What is critical illness insurance and do I need it?

While it might not be the nicest thing to think about, the reality is that every single one of us runs the risk of falling seriously ill at some point in our lives. You only have to consider that in the UK, every 2 minutes, someone is diagnosed with cancer[1], and every 5 minutes, someone has a stroke[2] , to see that we cannot take our health for granted. 

Having critical illness insurance doesn’t reduce your risk of falling ill, but it does prepare you and your family financially for any bad news that might be lurking around the corner. And for this reason, these policies can provide a great deal of comfort and security.

Ultimately, critical illness cover is about protecting the people you love, which makes it, in our humble opinion, one of the most powerful and positive insurance products on the market.

This guide will explain what critical illness cover is, run through how it works and, ultimately, help you decide whether or not you need it. Spoiler - you probably do.

How does critical illness insurance cover work?

Critical illness cover is an insurance policy that pays you a lump sum of (tax-free) money if you fall ill with one of a number of specified serious illnesses. The serious illnesses which qualify for a payout are defined by the insurer when you purchase a policy. 

Just like other types of insurance, it is there to step in and relieve pressure when something bad happens. It ensures that, should you receive bad news about your health, there is a financial safety net in place for you and your family.

Do I need a critical illness insurance policy?

While living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your likelihood of falling ill, the truth is that even the healthiest among us are still at risk. So, while there is no harm in hoping for the best, it is also important to plan for the worst, particularly for those of us with families who depend on our income. 

Ask yourself, if you fell ill and were unable to work, how would you meet your financial commitments? Perhaps you have substantial savings, generous employer support, or a partner whose salary is enough to cover all of your family’s costs? If not, then you may want to consider taking out critical illness insurance.

What is classed as a critical illness? 

The exact list of illnesses and injuries covered varies from policy to policy, but some commonly covered conditions are:

  • Cancer

  • Stroke

  • Heart attack

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Blindness

  • Deafness

  • Dementia

Before purchasing a critical illness policy, you should take some time to read the policy documents in detail, so you understand exactly what it covers.

If you already have a policy but need help understanding your cover, give one of our consultants a call on 01392 241 850, they’d be happy to help!

 

I have a pre-existing medical condition, can I still get a critical illness plan?

A pre-existing medical condition could affect your chances of getting critical illness cover, or, depending on the condition, you may find that cover is a little more expensive. When you apply for a policy, the insurer will ask you questions about your current and past health and based on this information will make a decision around the insurance they can offer and the cost. The golden rule is to be completely honest when applying for a policy, as any incorrect information can invalidate the policy if you ever need to make a claim. 

It is a common misconception that insurers are reluctant to pay out claims, when in reality, a staggering 91.6%[3] of all critical illness claims were paid last year! What about the remaining 8.4% you ask? Interestingly, the single greatest reason for claims not being paid was non-disclosure - policyholders not being completely truthful when they purchased their policy. So honesty really is the best policy!

How much critical illness insurance do I need?

The amount of cover you need depends on your own personal circumstances, but here are a few questions to consider: 

  • What are your financial commitments? For example, do you have a joint mortgage that your partner would not be able to maintain on their own?

  • How much financial support would you get from your employer should you become too ill to work for an extended period of time?

  • Do you have savings that you could draw on to replace your income if you were no longer able to work?

  • If you were to fall ill, what would you want your payout to cover?

Many people use the size of their mortgage as a guide for how much insurance to take out, because a mortgage is often the largest debt people have, but it’s important to remember that critical illness insurance can be used for anything. For example, you might decide to use the payout to cover the costs of private medical treatment or to cover your ongoing monthly bills, so these costs should be factored into the amount of insurance you buy.

How much does critical illness cover cost?

When you purchase a critical illness policy, you are also purchasing peace of mind. In our opinion, that’s pretty priceless! That said, actual premium prices will vary, both from insurer to insurer, and also depending on factors such as:

  • Your age

  • Whether you smoke or not

  • Your general health and family medical history

  • The amount of cover you want

  • How long you want to be covered for

Like all insurance, the cost of your premiums is based on how likely you are to need to claim. In other words, if your lifestyle or medical history mean you are more vulnerable to falling ill, your insurance may be more expensive. 

Having said that, you may actually find that the cost of a critical illness policy is less than you think, so it’s always worth doing your research before making any assumptions about whether you can afford it.

How can I buy critical illness insurance?

At Cavendish Online, we can help you work out exactly how much critical illness insurance you need, and which insurer is best suited to you. Call 01392 241 850 to speak to one of our insurance specialists, who can guide you through the process and support you in choosing the best cover for you and your family.

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