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Critical illness cover

What is critical illness health insurance?

Critical illness cover is a type of life insurance that pays out a lump sum if you suffer from a serious illness or injury that’s listed on your policy. It doesn’t cover you in the result of your death and when it’s paid out once, the policy ends.

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What types of critical illness cover can I get?

There are two types of critical illness insurance: 

  • Integrated critical illness cover – this is taken out alongside your life insurance policy at an additional cost to form one policy. It will cost more than an independent life insurance policy but it’s cheaper than taking out the two policies separately. However, insurers will only pay out once for integrated life and critical illness cover, either if you’re diagnosed with a qualifying condition or in the event of your death.
  • Independent critical illness cover – this is taken out as a standalone policy. You can specify the amount of cover you want and it doesn’t affect the amount of life insurance cover that you have. If you have to make a claim, your critical illness insurance policy will come to an end but you can still claim on your life insurance. 


Do I need critical illness cover?

Critical illness life insurance isn’t a legal requirement, getting cover is your choice. Critical illness cover will give you financial protection if you were to suffer from a serious illness or disability. The government can offer some help in the form of sick pay but it’s usually capped at £100, which could be too low to replace your income. If you don’t have sufficient savings to cover an extended period of illness, you might want to consider taking out a critical illness insurance policy.


How much does stand alone critical illness cover cost?

This all depends on your personal circumstances. When comparing critical illness cover and getting quotes, you’ll need to provider the following details:

  • The amount of cover you want
  • Your age, health and lifestyle (including alcohol and smoking consumption)
  • Any pre-existing medical conditions you have
  • How long you want the policy to last

If you already have a life insurance policy in place, adding critical illness cover to your existing policy is normally quick and easy. If you’re looking to take out critical illness cover only, you need to consider more than just the price. Cheap critical illness cover isn’t necessarily the best critical illness cover. We recommend that you read critical illness cover reviews from a variety of insurers to get an idea of how good the cover is and how they handle claims. You want to make sure you’ll be in safe hands if you ever need to make a claim.


What does critical illness insurance cover?

The specific illnesses that are covered will differ depending on the life insurance that you take out, but critical illness cover typically includes heart attacks, strokes and non-terminal cancer. It can also protect you if you’ve become permanently disabled following an injury. Be aware that not all illnesses are covered and most policies will state how serious the condition must be for you to make a claim.

What’s not covered?

Some serious conditions and advanced cancers are often excluded from critical illness life insurance. Like most insurance policies, it’s unlikely that you’ll be covered for any pre-existing conditions. Make sure you thoroughly read through your policy and the terms and conditions so you know exactly what is and isn’t covered.

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Critical illness insurance pros & cons



  • If you have to make a claim, you get a lump sum of money that can be spent however you like
  • Some policies allow you to cover your children for free alongside yourself


  • Not all illnesses and injuries are covered
  • Most insurers will only pay out for one claim
  • The premiums can be expensive
  • Your age, lifestyle and health can have an impact on your ability to get a policy


Compare life insurance providers

Compare life insurance providers on Compare by Review today. We’re the first and only comparison site that ranks life insurance providers exclusively on customer experience and product quality rather than price. Our full table of providers will give you an impartial and unbiased overview so you can purchase life insurance from a high-quality provider that you can rely on when you need them most.


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