Critical Illness Cover pays out a tax-free lump sum if you become critically ill with one of the serious illnesses the policy covers. You must meet the severity of the illness the insurer details in its terms and conditions to make a claim.
There are multiple insurers to choose from, each with their own coverage for various conditions and slightly different policy terms. It can therefore be tricky to find the best Critical Illness Insurance. You need to know exactly what you’re looking for and what’s best for your needs.
If at any point you want an idea of Critical Illness Insurance premiums, use our online comparison tool to get quotes from every top UK insurer →
What Do The Best Critical Illness Insurance Policies Cover?
The most common conditions Critical Illness Insurance providers pay out for are:
- Heart attacks
However, your policy will likely cover many critical conditions. These often include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Permanent loss of vision / hearing
- Loss of limbs
- Motor neurone disease
- Specified organ failure / major organ transplant
- Heart valve replacement / repair.
Most of the best Critical Illness Insurance providers cover around 40 conditions.
However, there are insurers which cover just 10 illnesses and those which cover more than 100. It therefore pays to do your research or get an expert adviser on the case.
If you need help please don’t hesitate to pop us a call on 02084327333 or email email@example.com.
Getting The Best Critical Illness Cover
To get started, it’s important to understand just what Critical Illness Insurance providers offer.
Finding the best Critical Illness Cover isn’t easy. There’s lots to think about when you compare providers, from the number of conditions each insurer covers to the definitions of those conditions.
You’ll also want to check out any additional benefits, and potentially compare each provider’s child cover if you have a family or plan to start one in the future.
To get the best cover, you’ll need to compare a few key factors relating to insurers and their policies. For example, you’ll want to look at:
Firstly, look at the insurer providing the cover. Take a look at its reviews, both from clients and from expert advisers.
How is the claims experience? Does it offer a high enough benefit and have the kind of features you’re after?
Firstly, Critical Illness Insurance is there to pay out if you develop one of the conditions the policy covers. It’s that simple.
However, it’s more complicated when you start looking at each insurer’s small print.
All the best Critical Illness Insurance providers offer cover for the ‘big three’ illnesses (cancer, heart attacks and strokes). They also cover a number of other major conditions in common. However, there are key differences in many areas.
Ultimately, some insurers cover more conditions than others.
Total Permanent Disability Cover
One area where this is particularly clear is with total permanent disability (TPD) cover. This triggers a payout if you become totally and permanently disabled.
However, not every insurer includes it as one of the critical illnesses that trigger a payout. For many providers, you must add it for an extra premium.
As well as the number of conditions each provider covers, you want to dive into the detail and look at the definitions of those conditions.
Some insurers have better definitions than others. For example, some insurers pay out for any diagnosis of cancer. Most, however, require cancer to be at a set severity before you can claim.
To help with this, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) produced model definitions of conditions. This lays out the definitions of the illnesses the best Critical Illness Insurance providers commonly cover and therefore to what severity you must develop them before you can claim.
These are only minimum standards, however. Many insurers go above and beyond for some conditions, offering what’s known as an ABI+ definition. That’s a definition that is better than the definition the ABI dictates.
The best Critical Illness Insurance providers include the most ABI+ definitions.
Children’s Critical Illness Cover offers a payout if one of your children develops a critical condition. This is most commonly 25% of your benefit, but can be more with certain insurers. Other providers let you pick a child benefit of your choosing.
Some insurers include children’s Critical Illness Insurance as standard. It comes with the cover, regardless of whether you have children.
With other providers, it’s an optional add-on for an extra premium. This may suit those without children who have no plans to start a family and don’t want to have a benefit on their policy that they won’t use.
As with most aspects of Critical Illness Insurance, children’s cover isn’t created equal. There are some key differences to look for:
- As with adult cover, the number of conditions the cover protects against
- If the policy only covers children for the adult conditions or includes child-specific illnesses as well
- Whether your child gets cover from birth or from 30 days old
- Availability of cover for congenital conditions
- Whether it includes a payout for pregnancy complications, including loss of a child in utero.
Look beyond the core cover. All policies at their core pay out if you develop one of a select list of critical illnesses. Where the best Critical Illness Insurance providers differentiate themselves is in the additional benefits they offer.
These benefits commonly include:
- Digital GP services
- Mental health support / counselling
- Second medical opinions
- Support after a critical diagnosis, such as with your recovery, improving quality of life or accommodating a new disability
- Hospitalisation benefit
Each insurer has a different maximum benefit they’ll cover you for. For some insurers, there’s no limit. However, most Critical Illness Insurance providers cap this at around £3 million.
For the vast majority of people, the £3 million limit should be more than sufficient. Premiums would likely be significant for anything above this anyway.
Some providers pay out on a sliding scale if you don’t quite meet the necessary severity for the illness you develop as your insurer outlines.
For example, if you develop a low-grade, in-situ cancer and catch it early, the insurer may not pay the full benefit because you don’t meet the full definition of cancer in the policy documents.
Other insurers offer a proportionate benefit (commonly the lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit) if you develop a less serious, or ‘additional’, illness that isn’t quite as severe as the main conditions the policy covers.
Most insurers have a survival period. This is a set number of days you must live after your diagnosis before you can claim. Survival periods can vary from 10 days to 2 weeks or more, so check carefully.
Which Critical Illness Insurers Offer The Best Premiums?
There are a lot of factors which affect the cost of Critical Illness Insurance. They’re split into personal and policy factors.
- Sum assured
How much you want the policy to pay out if you become critically ill. The higher your benefit, the higher your premiums.
- Policy length
How long you want the policy to last. The longer you require Critical Illness Insurance for, the higher your premiums due to the increased risk of illness you face as an older policyholder.
- Level or decreasing cover
With level cover, the benefit is the same for the policy term. It’s therefore useful for covering fixed costs, such as bills if you can’t work or adapting your home for a new disability. Decreasing cover falls over the policy term, reaching zero by the end. You typically align it with a repayment mortgage. As the risk to the insurer is fixed with level cover, it’s more expensive.
The older you are when you take out the policy, the more it will cost due to the higher risk of illness as we get older.
- Health and medical history
Your state of health is important, including factors such as your height and weight. If you have pre-existing conditions, the insurer might place exclude that condition or charge higher premiums to compensate.
- Smoker status
Smokers are more likely to become ill, and to suffer serious conditions such as cancer and heart attacks, than non-smokers. Insurers therefore charge smokers more for cover.
If you work in a riskier role, such as on a construction site or at heights, you run a greater risk of serious illness / injury than the typical desk workers. Higher risk roles generally therefore mean higher premiums.
Average Cost Of Critical Illness Cover In 2022
To calculate the premiums in the table below, we’ve had to make a number of assumptions about each individual. For example, we’ve assumed they are:
- A healthy non-smoker
- Employed in a desk-based role (an accountant)
- Seeking £250,000 of Life and Critical Illness Cover to age 60
- Applying for cover as a single individual, not jointly with a partner.
These premiums are the cheapest available that meet the above criteria. However, the cheapest policy won’t necessarily be the best.
One provider might have more robust definitions, better additional benefits or a range of other factors that are an improvement over the cheapest option.
Compare UK’s 10 Best Critical Illness Insurance Providers 2022
As an independent insurance broker we compare all of the leading UK insurers for our clients.
Each insurer has its own unique coverage. This includes number of conditions they cover and the definitions of those conditions, as well as areas such as additional benefits where insurers really set each other apart.
In addition to this expert guide we have also written expert product reviews for each of the top UK critical illness providers individually including Aviva, Legal & General and Vitality.
Which Critical Illness Insurance Companies Have The Best Payout Rates?
Most people understandably want to choose a policy by picking the insurer that’s the most likely to pay a claim when they need it the most.
However, it’s actually fairly hard to distinguish one provider from another in this area. Payout rates across the industry are not only higher than many people assume but are also fairly uniform.
As you can see in the table below, in 2019 almost all insurers paid out on more than 90% of the claims they received.
IMPORTANT NOTICE 🧐
You shouldn’t use payout statistics alone to decide which insurer offers the best Critical Illness Cover. Instead, use them as a rough guide to compare successful claims across the industry as a whole.
Which Is The Best Way To Set-Up Critical Illness Cover?
You have two options to set up Critical Illness Cover. You can either go direct to an insurer or buy cover through an adviser, such as Drewberry. It’s important to recognise the difference as one provides you with far more protection than the other.
Going Direct to an Insurer
Going direct is a non-advised sale. You personally make the decision to buy a policy, which means there’s no financial protection if it’s inappropriate. The responsibility is on your shoulders.
Not only this, but going direct often involves more work. To get the best Critical Illness Insurance, you’ll need to approach every insurer and compare quotes from all of them to get the best deal.
And it doesn’t stop there. You’ll then have to compare critical illness policies by number of illnesses covered and the definitions of those illnesses. This involves a lot of reading of fine print and interpretation of medical and insurance jargon.
Getting Independent Advice
On the other hand, an adviser offering a whole of market advised sale, such as an expert from Drewberry, is fully responsible for any policy they arrange. This offers you more protection than going it alone.
An adviser will consider your circumstances fully to make sure you get the best cover for your needs. We’re here to compare every insurer on your behalf so you can be sure you’ve got the best deal.
We also take all the heavy lifting off your desk, looking through insurers, their policies and their definitions to find you the best terms.
We’re proud of the service we provide and are delighted that our clients love it as well. We have 3017 and growing independent reviews rating us at 4.92 / 5.
Compare Critical Illness Insurance Quotes & Get Expert Advice
With around ten major UK Critical Illness Insurance providers to compare, this involves sifting through a lot of information.
We search for the best Critical Illness Insurance providers for our clients day in, day out. We know the market like the back of our hand, so we’re happy to lend you a hand.
Why Speak to Us?
We started Drewberry™ because we were tired of being treated like a number.
We all deserve a first class service when it comes to issues as important as protecting our health and our finances. Below are just a few reasons why it makes sense to talk to us.
For help and fee-free advice on comparing the UK’s best insurance companies, don’t be afraid to pop us a call. We’re here on 02084327333, or drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.