What Is The UK’s Best Critical Illness Insurance In 2021?

Online Quote & Apply
Compare Top UK Insurer Quotes Logos
13-04-2021

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:

  • Cancer
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes.

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 help@drewberry.co.uk.

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:

The Insurer

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?

Conditions Covered

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.

ABI+ Definitions

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 Cover

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.

Additional Benefits

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

Other Factors

Maximum 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.

Partial Payouts

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.

Survival Period

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.

Compare Top 10 UK Insurers
Takes approx. 60 seconds
  • £

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.

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.

Personal Factors

  • Age
    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.
  • Occupation
    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 2021

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.

25 Years Old

35 Years Old

45 Years Old

Decreasing Cover

£33.77
per month

£48.68
per month

£84.80
per month

Level Cover

£39.75
per month

£67.97
per month

£122.48
per month

Compare UK’s 10 Best Critical Illness Insurance Providers 2021

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 AvivaLegal & General and Vitality.

Maximum Benefit

Unlimited

Conditions Covered

  • 39 in full as standard
  • 12 additional conditions paying the lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit

ABI+ Definitions

18

Survival Period

10 days

Children’s Cover?

As standard, covering children between the age of 30 days and 22 years old. It pays:

  • The lower of £25,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops one of the critical illnesses / additional illnesses the policy covers
  • A £5,000 death benefit if one of your children between the above ages dies during the policy term

Claims Paid

94% in 2019, totalling £41.9 million

Additional Benefits

Aegon offers its Policy Plus with Critical Illness Cover. This includes:

  • Second medical opinion service
    A face-to-face appointment with a UK specialist following a recent medical diagnosis
  • Health and wellbeing service
    Access to counselling in areas such as bereavement, emotional health, relationships, family concerns, finances and debt, legal issues and consumer rights

The Drewberry Verdict

👍

High number of ABI+ definitions

🏆
  • 5 star rating from Moneyfacts in 2020 for its level and reducing Critical Illness Insurance
  • Four times winner of the Best Protection Service Award at the Moneyfacts Awards 2017-2020
  • 5 star rating from independent insurance assessor Defaqto in 2020 for Critical Illness Cover

While Aegon includes children’s cover free as standard, it only covers children from 30 days old, not from birth

Fairly minimal additional benefits compared to other insurers

AIG

Maximum Benefit

Unlimited

Conditions Covered

  • 45 conditions full as standard
  • Plus the lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit for low-grade breast and prostate cancer

Enhanced Cover
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷), paying:

  • Your full benefit for 7 further conditions
  • The lower of £35,000 or your full benefit for 43 further conditions without impacting your ability to claim for the 7 conditions that warrant a full payout
  • £5,000 if you develop one of six pregnancy complications

ABI+ Definitions

16

Survival Period

10 days

Children’s Cover?

An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷) for children from birth to age 22, paying:

  • £50,000 if your child suffers one of 11 critical conditions, or £25,000 if your child develops a further 33 conditions
  • A £10,000 child death benefit (including stillbirth after 24 weeks)
  • £100 per night as a hospitalisation benefit if your child is hospitalised for up to 30 nights
  • £5,000 if your child is born with one of 4 birth defects

Claims Paid

398 claims totalling £30.3 million in 2019

Additional Benefits

Smart Health is AIG’s main additional benefits offering. It includes:

  • 24 / 7 digital GP service
  • Fitness and nutrition plans from qualified sports coaches / nutritionists
  • Mental health support / counselling
  • Online health assessment to boost awareness of health metrics such as your BMI and cardiovascular risk profile, as well as available tests and screening programmes.
  • Second medical opinion from Best Doctors

The Drewberry Verdict

👍

Smart Health provides an excellent range of additional benefits, among the best in the market

👍

Child death benefit of £10,000 (including for children stillborn after 24 weeks gestation) when you pay for the optional children’s cover add-on is one of the highest in the market

🏆
  • Winner: Best Critical Illness Provider and Outstanding Insurer of the Year at the 2020 LifeSearch Awards
  • Winner: Best Added Value Provider at the 2020 Cover Excellence Awards
  • 5-star Defaqto rating for both AIG’s core and enhanced Critical Illness Cover

While AIG publishes the monetary value of the claims it pays, it does not publish the percentage of claims which were successful

No children’s cover as standard. While this does mean you don’t pay for a benefit you won’t use if you don’t have children, for many insurers it’s free automatically with your policy.

Only covers two additional critical illnesses which pay a lower benefit as standard. Many other insurers cover more than this. For access to further conditions that mean a smaller benefit, you must pay for enhanced cover.

Maximum Benefit

£3 million (£2 million with TPD cover)

Conditions Covered

  • 33 in full as standard
  • Plus the lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit for low grade in-situ cancer of the breast or prostate

Upgraded Critical Illness Cover
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷), this pays out:

  • In full for a further 14 conditions
  • The lower of £25,000 or your benefit for 23 conditions
  • A hospitalisation benefit of £100 per night for up to 30 nights if you spend more than 7 consecutive nights in hospital.

ABI+ Definitions

19

Survival Period

10 days

Children’s Cover?

As standard for children from 30 days old until their 18th birthday (21st birthday if in full-time education), paying:

  • The lower of £25,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops one of the critical illnesses the policy covers
  • A death benefit of £5,000 should your child pass away during the policy term
  • A hospitalisation benefit of £100 per night for up to 30 nights if your child is hospitalised for more than 7 nights

Upgraded Children’s Benefit
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷), this:

  • Covers your child from birth to their 22nd birthday
  • Adds further critical illnesses, including some child-specific ones, with a £25,000 payout
  • Extends eligibility for the death benefit from the 24th week of pregnancy rather than from 30 days old
  • Pays a lump sum in ‘extra care cover’ if your child suffers a life-changing illness / injury

Claims Paid

93.1% in 2019, totally £353 million

Additional Benefits

Aviva DigiCare+

Free as standard, Aviva DigiCare+ is a health and wellbeing service offering:

  • 24 / 7 Bupa Anytime HealthLine, staffed by trained nurses to help manage minor health concerns
  • A Health MOT
  • Nutrition advice
  • Gym discounts
  • Up to six sessions of video / phone psychotherapy per year
  • Second medical opinion service on a recent diagnosis and your treatment options
  • Bereavement support if you lose a family member.

You can also opt to pay an extra £36 annually for three Digital GP appointments per year.

Optional Add-Ons for an Extra Premium (💷)

  • TPD cover
    Depending on underwriting, this pays your full benefit if, before age 71, you either can’t do your own occupation ever again or cannot perform at least three work tasks such as walking, climbing, lifting or writing / typing
  • Fracture cover
    Pays up to £6,000 once per year if you suffer a specified fracture
  • Global treatment
    Covers the cost of medical treatment, up to £1 million per year or £2 million over the life of the policy, if you or your child develops a serious illness and Aviva’s Best Doctors service signs off on you having treatment overseas

The Drewberry Verdict

👍

Aviva DigiCare+ is a great suite of additional benefits available for free

👍

You can pay to add various additional benefits to your policy, from fracture cover to global treatment. This is fairly unique among Critical Illness Insurance providers.

👍

Uses 19 ABI+ definitions, one of the highest in the market

🏆
  • Winner: Best Individual Critical Illness Provider at the 2019 Health Insurance Awards
  • Winner: Best Customer Service at the 2020 Health Insurance Awards
  • Aviva’s Critical Illness Insurance is 5-star Defaqto rated

While Aviva offers a digital GP service via Aviva DigiCare+, which not every insurer does, it’s at extra cost and limited to three appointments per year.

TPD cover isn’t standard; it’s an optional add-on for an extra premium. Also, if you add TPD cover, your maximum available benefit falls from £3 million to £2 million.

With the free child cover, Aviva doesn’t cover children from birth as some providers do. Cover starts from when your child turns 30 days old unless you pay extra for upgraded child cover.

Maximum Benefit

£3 million

Conditions Covered

  • 54 in full as standard
  • Plus the lower of 25% of your benefit or £50,000 for 21 less serious illnesses without affecting your entitlement to claim in full for the 54 main conditions
  • Plus the lower of 10% of your benefit or £50,000 for low risk non-melanoma skin cancer, rising to the lower of 25% of your benefit or £50,000 for high risk incidences

ABI+ Definitions

18

Survival Period

14 days

Children’s Cover?

An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷) covering children from birth to age 23, which pays:

  • A lump sum of your choosing between £10,000 and £100,000 (up to 100% of your benefit) if your child develops any adult condition Guardian covers (except TPD), plus six child-specific ones
  • 25% of the child’s benefit for 22 additional conditions
  • £10,000 towards your child’s funeral if they pass away or are stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy

Claims Paid

n.a.

Additional Benefits

  • Guardian Halo
    Support after a critical illness claim, offering second medical opinions, estate planning / power of attorney, speech therapy, counselling and help returning to work
  • Guardian Anytime
    A 24 / 7 remote GP, plus a second medical opinion service following a serious diagnosis and post-diagnosis support from a dedicated nurse

The Drewberry Verdict

👍

TPD included as standard — for many insurers, this is an optional add-on for an extra premium

👍

Guardian pays at least some of your benefit for any diagnosis of cancer, regardless of severity, including low-risk non-melanoma skin cancer

👍

In many cases, Guardian won’t require extensive medical evidence before paying out, just the word of a UK consultant that you have a condition

👍

If you take out a policy and Guardian later improves its definitions, you benefit from these updated definitions too rather than just new clients, which is unique

👍

If you pay for child cover, you choose a payout of £10,000-£100,000 (up to 100% of your benefit). With most insurers, you get a fixed percent of your benefit. You could therefore get more if your child develops an illness with Guardian.

👍

The optional paid-for child cover covers children from birth up to age 23, regardless of education status. This is the longest term in the market. It also provides a high child death benefit of £10,000.

🏆
  • Winner: Best Individual Critical Illness Policy, Cover Excellence Awards 2020
  • Winner: Best Critical Illness Provider, Paradigm Awards 2020
  • 5-star Defaqto rating

Guardian’s survival period of 14 days is among the longest in the market

Child cover is an optional add-on for an extra premium. While this means you don’t pay for cover you won’t use if you don’t have children, it’s free as standard with many other providers.

As a relatively new insurer, Guardian doesn’t yet publish its claims data

Maximum Benefit

  • £3 million with work tasks TPD cover
  • £2 million with own occupation TPD cover

Conditions Covered

  • 31 in full as standard
  • Plus the lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit for low grade in-situ breast or prostate cancer

Critical Illness Extra
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷), this pays out for 48 conditions in full, plus a payout for 28 conditions of the lower of £30,000 or 50% of your benefit

ABI+ Definitions

17

Survival Period

14 days

Children’s Cover?

As standard, covering children between the age of 30 days and 22 years old. It pays:

  • The lower of £25,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops a critical illness the policy covers (except Total Permanent Disability)
  • A £5,000 hospitalisation benefit if your child suffers an accident which leaves them with physical injuries requiring at least 28 days in hospital
  • A £5,000 funeral benefit if your child dies during the policy term
  • £1,000 towards childcare with a registered childminder for a child under 5 years old in the 18 months after a parent gets a critical diagnosis
  • A £100 family accommodation benefit (up to £1,000) for each night a child spends in hospital in the 3 months after they develop a covered critical condition

Children’s Critical Illness Extra
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷), this extends child cover from birth rather than 30 days old, paying:

  • The lower of £30,000 or 50% of your benefit for all 76 conditions under Critical Illness Extra, plus eight child-specific conditions
  • £10,000 if your child is diagnosed as terminally ill (having less than 12 months to live)

Claims Paid?

92% of all claims in 2019 totalling £224 million

Additional Benefits

  • Accidental hospitalisation benefit
    £5,000 if you have an accident that leaves you with physical injuries requiring more than 28 days in hospital
  • Nurse Support Services
    A telephone helpline offering support with serious illness, disability and bereavement; mental health; caring for an ill or elderly loved one and more

The Drewberry Verdict

👍

Standard children’s cover includes some fairly unique features, such as financial support with childcare if you become critically ill and an accidental hospitalisation benefit

🏆
  • 5-star Defaqto rated

Minimal additional benefits

Only two additional critical illnesses covered as standard

Survival period of 14 days is one of the longest in the market

Maximum Benefit

Unlimited

Conditions Covered

  • 48 in full as standard
  • Plus the lower of £30,000 or 50% of your benefit for a further 18 conditions, as well as many less advanced cancers

Enhanced Claim Payments

Included as standard, of the 48 above conditions there are 17 which LV pays a higher benefit for due to the severe financial impact they’ll likely have on your life. It pays:

  • Double your benefit (maximum £200,000) if one of ten full payment conditions occurs due to an accident
  • Double your benefit (maximum £200,000) on top of your original cover for three full payment conditions (liver failure, major organ transplant and severe lung disease)
  • Double your benefit (maximum £200,000) if one of four neurological conditions (e.g. Alzheimer’s / dementia or Parkinson’s disease) occurs before age 55

ABI+ Definitions

16

Survival Period

14 days

Children’s Cover?

As standard, covering children from birth to age 23 without a survival period. It pays:

  • The lower of £25,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops one of the conditions the policy covers, except type 1 diabetes and TPD
  • The lower of £50,000 or 100% of your benefit if your child develops one of ten full payment conditions after an accident
  • The lower of £50,000 or 100% of your benefit for a further 3 full payment conditions (liver failure, major organ transplant and severe lung disease)
  • £5,000 towards a funeral if your child dies before age 23 during the policy term
  • A £1,000 cost of cancer diagnosis benefit if your child develops one of the cancers the policy covers.

Your child can convert their cover into an adult policy without medical underwriting if they do it within 6 months of their 23rd birthday.

The maximum cover available if they convert the cover is the lower of £25,000 or 50% of your benefit.

Enhanced Cover
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷), this pays:

  • The lower of £35,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops one of 10 conditions, including type 1 diabetes
  • £5,000 if you develop one of six pregnancy complications
  • A £5,000 child funeral benefit if your child is stillborn after 24 weeks gestation

Claims Paid

88% of claims in 2019 totalling £23 million

Additional Benefits

LV’s main additional benefits offering is LV= Doctor Services. This offers:

  • 24 / 7 remote GP appointments, with prescription services
  • Second medical opinion on a new diagnosis or course of treatment
  • Remote physiotherapy sessions
  • Remote mental health support
  • 25% off health MOTs

Also available is a cost of diagnosis of cancer benefit — a £1,000 payment if you develop one of the cancers the policy covers.

The Drewberry Verdict

👍

Standard child cover protects children from birth to age 23, regardless of education status. This is the longest coverage for children in the market.

👍

LV doesn’t apply its survival period to children’s claims

👍

£1,000 cost of cancer diagnosis benefit on top of your payout if you develop cancer

👍

Enhanced cover for 17 conditions as standard, which LV offers a higher payout for due to the considerable financial impact they’ll have on your life

👍

Good range of additional benefits, including a remote GP service

🏆
  • Winner: Best Individual Critical Illness Provider at the 2020 Health Insurance & Protection Awards
  • 5-star Defaqto rating

88% payout rate in 2019 is on the low side

14 day survival period is the longest in the market

Maximum Benefit

£3 million (£1.2 million with increasing cover)

Conditions Covered

  • 44 in full as standard
  • Plus a payout of the lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit for an additional 23 conditions
  • Plus a payout of £5,000 per pregnancy for pregnancy complications (unless the claim is for foetal death in utero, neonatal death or stillbirth after 24 weeks gestation, in which case the benefit is £5,000 per foetus / child)

ABI+ Definitions

14

Survival Period

10 days

Children’s Cover?

Basic Cover `
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷) covering children from birth to age 21 (23 if in full-time education).

It pays the lower of £25,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops one of the adult critical illnesses, including TPD.

Enhanced Cover
For a further additional premium (💷💷), the enhanced option pays:

  • The lower of £50,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops a terminal illness, an adult critical illness or 1 of 13 child-specific conditions
  • The lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit if your child develops one of the adult additional critical illnesses
  • £5,000 if the child meets the definition of pregnancy complications
  • £5,000 as a death benefit if your child passes away

Claims Paid

92.6% of claims in 2019, totalling £150.1 million

Additional Benefits

Royal London’s main additional benefits offering is Helping Hand. This offers:

  • Access to a dedicated nurse via a telephone helpline for help with bereavement or if you develop a critical illness
  • Support recovering from a heart attack
  • Speech and language therapy after a stroke
  • Access to complementary therapies to manage symptoms / help with recovery
  • Independent careers, legal and medical helplines for support when you need a professional opinion or advice

The Drewberry Verdict

👍

Includes TPD cover as standard. For some insurers, it’s an optional add-on for an extra premium.

👍

If you add children’s cover, it includes child TPD cover. Few providers offer this with child cover.

👍

Royal London’s additional benefits service, Helping Hand, offers support after a critical diagnosis such as cancer, heart attack or stroke. This includes speech therapy for stroke survivors.

🏆
  • Winner: Best Protection Provider at the 2020 Money Marketing Awards
  • 5-star Defaqto rating

Children’s cover is an optional add-on for an extra premium. While this does mean you don’t pay for a service you won’t use if you don’t have children, many other providers offer it free.

Number of ABI+ definitions is on the low side

Maximum Benefit

£3 million (capped at £1.5 million for TPD claims)

Conditions Covered

  • 30 in full as standard
  • 10 additional illnesses, paying the lower of £30,000 or 25% of your benefit
  • A booster payment of 150% of your benefit, up to £200,000, if you develop one of four neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s or dementia) the policy covers when you’re 45 or under

ABI+ Definitions

14

Survival Period

10 days

Children’s Cover?

As standard, covering children from birth to age 22. It pays:

  • The lower of £30,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops one of the critical illnesses / additional illnesses the policy covers (except TPD)
  • The lower of £30,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops one of five child-specific conditions
  • A £10,000 death benefit if one of your children dies between the age of 30 days old and 22 during the policy term

Claims Paid

93% in 2019, totalling £84 million

Additional Benefits

Scottish Widows Care is Scottish Widows’ main additional benefits offering. It centres around a team of dedicated nurses available on a telephone helpline, offering support with:

  • Long-term physical or mental health conditions / disability
  • Bereavement
  • Trauma
  • Discharge from hospital
  • Getting a face-to-face second medical opinion from UK-based specialists.

You can also access a course of therapy, for example counselling, complementary or occupational therapy where appropriate.

The Drewberry Verdict

👍

Get a booster payment if you develop one of four neurological conditions (Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s plus syndrome, dementia and motor neurone disease) aged 45 or under

👍

£10,000 child death benefit as standard, one of the highest available in the market

🏆
  • 5-star Defaqto rating

Scottish Widows covers one of the lowest overall number of conditions in the market

While TPD cover is standard (many insurers require you to add it for an extra premium), Scottish Widows caps it at £1.5 million rather than the full £3 million maximum available if you develop one of the other full payment conditions

Maximum Benefit

£3 million

Conditions Covered

Vitality offers Serious Illness Cover rather than Critical Illness Cover. This covers more conditions, with a severity ranking which decides how much of your benefit you’ll get.

As standard, you get cover for 153 conditions on a sliding scale of severity. The policy pays between 15% and 100% of your benefit depending on the severity of your condition.

Serious Illness Cover Booster
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷), this increases the number of serious conditions that attract a 100% payout to 81.

It also boosts your payout from 100% to 200% of your benefit if you develop one of the long-term debilitating diseases Vitality deems to have a major financial impact, such as motor neurone disease or total blindness.

Serious Illness Cover Plus
Serious Illness Cover Plus is another optional add-on for an extra premium (💷💷). It covers a further 29 conditions.

The sliding scale for Serious Illness Cover Plus runs from 5% to 100% of your benefit depending on the severity of the condition.

ABI+ Conditions

As Vitality offers Serious Illness Cover rather than Critical Illness Cover, ABI+ definitions apply differently.

However, with Serious Illness Cover, Vitality covers 38 conditions that no other insurer does. This rises to 61 conditions no other insurer covers if you pay for Serious Illness Cover Plus.

Survival Period

14 days

Children’s Cover?

Family Benefit 
Included as standard, this pays £5,000 once you’ve held the policy for 9+ months for:

  • 5 pregnancy-related complications, plus foetal death in utero / stillbirth after 20 weeks gestation
  • Your child being born with 1 of 8 congenital conditions
  • A child’s funeral if they due during the term of the policy before age 18 (23 if in full-time education)

Children’s Cover 
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷) covering children from 30 days old to age 18 (23 if in full-time education), paying:

  • A benefit of your choice up to £100,000 if your child develops a serious illness Vitality covers (except TPD)
  • £100 per night as a hospitalisation benefit if your child is hospitalised for 14 consecutive nights after they reach 30 days old, up to a maximum of 30 nights / £3,000

Claims Paid

92.9% in 2019

Additional Benefits

Vitality’s additional benefits centre on Vitality Select. It offers discounts on certain fitness tracking devices, plus access to certain reward partners.

You can add Vitality Optimiser, which widens the discount partners to many high street retailers, gyms, spas and also provides other rewards.

You could cut premiums by staying active and collecting Vitality points. If you earn a certain number of points through activity, you reach bronze, silver, gold or platinum status.

The Drewberry Verdict

👍

Although not every condition triggers a full payout, Vitality’s Serious Illness Cover protects against far more conditions than most Critical Illness policies

👍

If you pay to add child cover, you choose any benefit you like if your child becomes ill (up to £100,000). Most insurers only pay a percentage of your benefit with child cover, so Vitality potentially offers a higher benefit if your child is ill.

👍

Even without adding child cover, you get a £5,000 benefit for pregnancy complications. This includes foetal death in utero / stillbirth after 20 weeks gestation. With most insurers, you only get a payout for this after 24 weeks.

🏆
  • Winner: Best Individual Protection Provider, 2020 Health Insurance & Protection Awards
  • Winner: Best Critical Illness Cover Provider, 2020 MoneyFacts Awards
  • 5-star Defaqto rating

Some child cover is standard via Family Benefit. However, for meaningful protection, you must pay extra for full cover. While this means you don’t pay for a benefit you won’t use if you have no children, many insurers offer it free.

Survival period of 14 days is the longest in the market

While Vitality’s rewards and discounts programme is wide-ranging, as far as other additional benefits go Vitality is limited compared to other providers

The child hospitalisation benefit as part of the paid-for children’s cover only kicks in after your child spends 14 consecutive nights in hospital. This is shorter with most other providers.

Maximum Benefit

£5 million (£3 million with TPD cover)

Conditions Covered

  • 40 conditions in full as standard
  • An advanced payout while you’re on an NHS waiting list for 1 of 7 qualifying surgeries included in the above 40 conditions so you don’t have to wait until your surgery to get your benefit
  • Plus the lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit for less advanced breast and prostate cancer

Critical Illness Select 
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷), Critical Illness Select is an upgraded policy that pays:

  • Your full benefit for every condition the Critical Illness policy covers, plus 11 further illnesses
  • An advanced payout while you’re on an NHS waiting for 1 of 9 qualifying surgeries included in the above 51 conditions so you don’t have to wait until your surgery to get your benefit
  • The lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit for a further 46 conditions
  • An uplift of the lower of £100,000 or 100% of your benefit if you develop one of four neurological conditions or one of six traumas
  • £5,000 if you suffer one of five pregnancy-related complications

ABI+ Definitions

18

Survival Period

10 days

Children’s Cover?

Children’s Benefit 
Only available with the standard Critical Illness policy, this is optional add-on for an extra premium (💷). It covers children from birth to age 22, paying:

  • The lower of £25,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops any of the adult conditions the policy covers
  • The lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit if your child develops one of the adult additional conditions
  • A £5,000 death benefit if your child dies between 30 days old and their 22nd birthday while the policy is in force.

Enhanced Children’s Benefit
Only available with Critical Illness Select, this is optional add-on for an extra premium (💷). Unless stated otherwise, it covers children from birth to age 22, paying:

  • The lower of £25,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops any of the 51 adult conditions the policy covers
  • The lower of £25,000 or 25% of your benefit if your child develops any of the 46 additional adult conditions the policy covers
  • An uplift of the lower of £25,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child meets the criteria for overseas treatment (the child can’t access UK-based treatment for critical illness that’s effective in curing / preventing deterioration and treatment that’s effective, curative or prevents further deterioration is available overseas)
  • An uplift of the lower of £25,000 or 50% of your benefit if your child develops an advanced cancer
  • A £5,000 death benefit if your child dies between 24 weeks gestation and their 22nd birthday while the policy is in force.

Claims Paid

90% of claims in 2019, totalling £76.4 million

Additional Benefits

Included free as standard, Zurich’s main additional benefits offering is Zurich Support Services. This offers:

  • Support with finding care for children and elderly relatives
  • Career coaching
  • Debt and money management
  • Legal information

Multi Fracture Cover 
An optional add-on for an extra premium (💷), this pays out £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on your injury if you suffer certain fractures / dislocations, rupture an achilles tendon or tear a cruciate ligament.

The Drewberry Verdict

👍

Zurich lets you pay extra for fracture cover, which few other Critical Illness Insurance providers offer as an option.

🏆
  • 5-star Defaqto rated

Standard cover only includes two additional conditions that mean a smaller payout. For further cover, you must pay extra for Critical Illness Select. Many providers cover more additional conditions as standard.

Children’s cover is an optional add-on for an extra premium. While this does mean you don’t pay for a benefit you won’t use if you don’t have children, with many providers it’s free as standard.

TPD cover is an optional add-on for an extra premium. With some providers, it’s free as standard.

No cover for stillbirth or foetal death in utero, even if you pay to add children’s cover to a standard policy. This is only available if you pay for Critical Illness Select and pay extra for enhanced children’s benefit. Then you get cover from 24 weeks gestation.

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.

Insurer

2017

2018

2019

Aegon

94%

93%

94%

Aviva

93.2%

92.6%

93.1%

Scottish Widows

93.6%

94.1%

93%

Vitality

92%

91.2%

92.9%

Royal London

91.2%

91.2%

92.6%

Legal & General

92%

93%

92%

Zurich

95%

91%

90%

Liverpool Victoria

88%

89%

88%

AIG

93%

94%

n.a.

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.

Curved wave background

Common Critical Illness Cover Questions...

  • Do I Really Need Critical Illness Insurance?

    Ultimately, this depends on your needs and circumstances, as well as your point of view.

    You can use a Critical Illness Insurance payout to repay your mortgage, keep up with your bills or adapt your home to meet a new disability.

    Unfortunately, none of us know what life has in store for us. A serious illness could strike at any time. Statistics show the risk of many critical illnesses is rising in the UK, even among younger people of working age.

  • Is Critical Illness Insurance Better Than Income Protection?

    Critical Illness Insurance and Income Protection both pay a benefit if you become ill. It can therefore be hard to tell them apart or know which one would work best for you.

    Find out the difference between Critical Illness Cover and Income Protection here →

    However, in brief the main differences are in the:

    Benefit

    Critical Illness Insurance pays a lump sum of your choosing, while Income Protection pays a monthly benefit of a proportion of your earnings.

    Payout Threshold

    With Critical Illness Cover, to claim you must develop a critical condition in the policy at a severity your insurer dictates.

    On the other hand, Income Protection pays out simply if you can’t do your job after any accident or sickness.

    Conditions Covered

    The most common conditions Critical Illness Insurance providers pay out for are serious illnesses such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Income Protection, meanwhile, pays out for anything that medically stops you working, from cancer to a bad back.

    Payout Frequency

    If you claim for a full payment condition with Critical Illness Cover, the policy ends. You get your lump sum but nothing further, even if you can never work again.

    This is opposed to Long Term Income Protection, which continues paying a monthly benefit until you retire if you can’t ever return to work.

  • What's The Difference Between Critical Illness And Terminal Illness?

    Terminal Illness Insurance is usually included free with Life Insurance. It pays the policy benefit early if the policyholder becomes terminally ill (where a doctor has said they have less than 12 months to live).

    Critical Illness Insurance, on the other hand, pays out if you develop a critical illness of a specified severity, such as cancer, heart attack or stroke.

    The two options sound similar but are in fact very different and not interchangeable. It’s possible to recover from a critical illness, for example, whereas that’s not the case after a terminal prognosis.

  • What is Total Permanent Disability (TPD) Cover?

    Total Permanent Disability Cover (TPD) pays out if you are left totally and permanently disabled and unable to work due to illness or injury.

    To make a TPD claim, you must suffer a severe life-changing disability that has no medical prospect of improvement. There are fairly strict criteria to make a total permanent disability claim.

  • Do You Pay Tax On A Critical Illness Payout?

    No, you don’t typically pay tax on a Critical Illness Insurance payout.

    This is because you usually pay premiums from income you’ve already paid tax on, i.e. your wages. That means HMRC has already effectively taxed you once and therefore allows you to receive a Critical Illness Insurance claim tax-free.

Curved wave background

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 help@drewberry.co.uk.

I’ve held a policy with Drewberry for several years now. They are always friendly, insightful and offer great service.

Dan Pettitt
13/01/2021
Reviews.co.uk Logo
Compare Top 10 UK Insurers
Takes approx. 60 seconds
  • £

Or call us on 0208 432 7333

Compare Top UK Insurer Quotes Logos
Contact Us
Head Office & Pensions and Investments
Senator House
85 Queen Victoria Street
London
EC4V 4AB
Personal Insurance & Accounts Payable
Telecom House
125-135 Preston Road
Brighton
BN1 6AF
Drewberry London Office MapDrewberry Brighton Office Map
Our Core Principles
  • 1You Come FirstWe are a client focused business who always aim to put you first.
  • 2We are ExpertsTo provide you with the best advice, we need to know our stuff!
  • 3We are HumanWe are real people with feelings who are here to help you.
  • 4We are ProfessionalProviding a 5-star service requires a professional approach to everything we do.
  • 5We are here to EducateWe don't believe in sales, we are here to educate so you can make informed decisions.
Finalist - Moneyfacts AwardsFinalist - Cover Excellence AwardsHighly Commended - Protection Review Awards
Proud member of AMII (Association of Medical Insurers & Intermediaries)Proud member of Money Advice ServiceProud member of UnbiasedProud member of BIBA (British Insurance Brokers' Association)

If you are unhappy with our service, we have a complaints procedure, details of which are available upon request. If you are unhappy with how your complaint has been dealt with, you may be able to refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). The FOS website is www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.

Drewberry Ltd is registered in England and Wales. Companies House No. 06675912

Drewberry Ltd registered office: Telecom House, Preston Road, Brighton, England, BN1 6AF. Telephone 0208 432 7333

Drewberry Ltd (Financial Conduct Authority No. 505473) is an Appointed Representative of Quilter Wealth Limited and Quilter Mortgage Planning

Limited, which are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Drewberry™ uses cookies to offer you the best experience online. By continuing to use our website you agree to the use of cookies. If you would like to know more about cookies and how to manage them please view our privacycookie policy.