Critical illness cover

We've looked into critical illness cover, an option that can be combined or added to a life insurance policy to offer enhanced security.

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If you’ve decided that you want to offer your loved ones some financial security in the case of your death, then life insurance is something that you may well be looking into. But what would happen if you were living with a condition and unable to support your family because you could no longer work? Critical illness cover could offer you an enhanced level of security. Read our guide to find out what critical illness cover is, what it might cover and how much it could cost.

What is critical illness cover?

A life insurance policy will usually provide a lump-sum payment when the policyholder dies. Critical illness cover, on the other hand, can provide a lump-sum payment if the policyholder is diagnosed with a condition, often life-changing, that is defined as a critical illness by the insurer.

You can get critical illness cover in two ways:

  • Cover that can be added to a life insurance policy. If you choose to add critical illness cover to your life insurance, you and your loved ones will generally get a lump-sum payout if you have a critical illness and also when you die.
  • Cover that can be combined with a life insurance policy. If you choose to combine critical illness cover with your life insurance, you will generally only receive one lump-sum payout either when you have a critical illness or when you die.

What does critical illness cover?

An insurer will generally have a list of conditions that it defines as a critical illness, such as a heart attack, cancer or a stroke.

Some of the more comprehensive policies may list up to 50 illnesses, including common conditions such as Alzheimer’s or deafness. What is defined as a critical illness may differ from insurer to insurer, so always check what is included on the list and what conditions might be excluded.

Each insurer will have its own list of defined critical illnesses, so it’s always best to shop around to see what conditions are included in the critical illness list.

What is not covered?

Even though one insurer may list a condition as a critical illness, another insurer may exclude it from their critical illness list, so it’s always best to check the list before committing. For example, some insurers may list up to 50 or more conditions within their critical illness list while other insurers may limit their list to core critical conditions.

How much critical illness cover do I need?

How much cover you will need really depends on your own circumstances. What might be suitable for you might not be suitable for another person. Think about the level of cover you require instead of focusing on price since selecting the cheapest deal might not offer you the best cover.

How do I make a claim on my critical illness cover?

You should contact your insurer as soon as you get a diagnosis. Your insurer will be able to tell you whether your particular diagnosis is covered under your critical illness cover. If it is covered, you can begin the claim process. This will differ slightly depending on your insurer, but the exact process will be made clear to you after contacting your insurer. The contact details will usually be contained within your policy document.

The insurer will then need to access your medical records in order to gather information regarding your illness or condition as well as information regarding the severity of it. Based on this information, and after verifying all your information relating to the policy, the insurer will then process your claim and make a payout to you. Once you receive the payout, your policy will come to an end.

If, on the other hand, your diagnosis is not covered by your critical illness cover, you will not be able to make a claim. Your policy will remain in place until you make a future claim or your policy term ends, whichever comes first. However, your insurer will update your records with your new diagnosis. It is then unlikely that you will be able to make a future claim if any illness relates to this diagnosis.

How to find the best critical illness cover

Finding the best critical illness cover will very much depend on your own circumstances. It’s worth doing your research and finding out which conditions are listed as a critical illness. The more comprehensive the list of critical illnesses, the more the premiums are likely to be for the cover. You will need to decide which critical illness cover is right for you.

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