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.
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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.
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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.