What is critical illness cover?
It's an insurance policy that helps protect you if you become critically ill during the policy term. It pays out a tax-free lump sum that you can use however you like – whether that’s to help cover health-related costs, monthly expenses, or lost income while you get better.
We’ll pay if your child is diagnosed with or has surgery for a critical illness
Lump sum payment
Financial support to help you focus on your health if you’re diagnosed with 1 of 53 conditions we cover
You can buy life and critical illness cover at the same time. As they’re separate policies, both could pay out
How does critical illness cover work?
You pay monthly premiums for the policy term, from 5 to 50 years, and if you're diagnosed with one of the 53 conditions we cover during that time, we'll pay out. Our policy also includes a children's benefit that covers any children you have at no extra cost.
Do you need critical illness cover?
You can’t know what’s around the corner for your health, but you can make sure you’re prepared financially.
Think about expenses you’d need to cover if you were critically ill and couldn’t work. It might be monthly outgoings like rent payments and general bills, or instalments on a loan or a repayment mortgage. If you don’t have savings to fall back on, getting cover can help take financial worry away while you’re recovering or having treatment.
How much critical illness cover do you need?
It depends on things like what you want to cover, how much you’re looking to pay each month, and for how long. Because our critical illness plan isn’t combined with life insurance, we’re flexible. Over half of our customers pay just £22 a month or less for our critical illness cover 1.
Our different types of cover
We offer different types of critical illness cover: level cover and decreasing cover. The type of cover you want may depend on what you want to protect, and how much you’d like to pay each month.
With level cover, you choose the cover amount and how long you want the cover to run for. The amount of cover and the amount you pay each month stays the same until your policy ends.
Level cover could be a good option if you’re looking to maintain loved ones’ living standards, and can help to cover things like:
- Your salary
- Any additional health and living costs
- Rent payments
- Continue to make mortgage payments
- Children’s school fees or other childcare costs
Protecting your cover from the effects of inflation
You can choose to make your cover amount increase in line with inflation. This ensures that the lump sum won't be worth less in the future because of the rise in the cost of living. With this option, the amount of cover and the amount you pay can both go up each year.
The maximum annual increase is 15% to your premium and 10% to your cover amount 2.
This type of cover might be used to help pay off a repayment mortgage, or other debts or loans, if you're diagnosed with a critical illness during the policy term.
- It lasts for a specific amount of time, and your monthly premiums are fixed, unless you make a change to your policy
- It usually costs less than level cover, as the value of the loan or mortgage you're paying off gradually decreases over time, and so does the cover
What our critical illness insurance covers
- Lump sum payment
If you’re diagnosed with a critical illness that meets our policy definition, and survive for 10 days
- 53 conditions covered
Outlined in our policy conditions
- Flexible length of cover
From 5 to 50 years – and the cover can last until you’re 75
- Cover for your child
If your child has a critical (not terminal) illness, we’ll pay up to £25,000, or 50% of the cover amount (whichever is lower)
- Joint to a single policy
If you separate from your partner, you can split your policy into two single policies, and won’t have to answer any new health and lifestyle questions
- Cover up to £1 million
To help you when you need it most
- Additional critical illness benefit
You can claim for some additional critical illnesses – and the policy won’t end if we pay a successful claim
What's not included
- If you're diagnosed with a critical illness outside the policy term
You won’t be covered after your policy ends
- If you don’t survive 10 days following diagnosis
We won’t pay out. For this, you need life insurance
- If you pass away
Your policy will end and we won’t pay out. If you have a joint policy and one person passes away, cover will continue for the other policyholder
- If you don't pay your premiums
Your cover will stop. The policy has no cash-in value at any time
- If you’re diagnosed with a critical illness not listed in our policy
You won’t be covered
- Once the policy pays out, it ends
We won’t pay out again, unless it’s a children’s or additional critical illness claim
Why choose our critical illness cover?
Our cover’s 5 Star rated by Defaqto – a trusted industry expert.
- We’re the largest UK insurer
With 15 million UK customers
- We’ve got heritage
We’ve been protecting our customers for over 300 years
- You can count on us
In 2018, we paid out £354m in critical illness claims, an average of £71,779 per customer 3
- We’re taking action on climate change
We’re a United Nations Momentum for Change award-winner
Are you eligible for critical illness cover?
To get cover, you must be:
- A permanent UK resident (excluding the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Gibraltar), with permission to legally remain in the UK on a permanent basis
- Aged between 18 and 64. For a joint policy, the maximum age applies to the oldest person covered
“You always think that nothing will happen to you, but you never know”
How critical illness cover helped Linda when she needed it most
Linda took out critical illness cover with us when she bought her house. Within a few years, she got some bad news completely out of the blue. Here’s how we could help her at this difficult time.
Looking for more cover?
Here are some other ways to help protect your family’s future.
Pays out a lump sum to help your family pay bills, mortgage repayments, school fees and any other debts, if you die within the policy term.
Cover: Up to £5,000,000
Payment: If you die, or get a terminal illness and aren’t expected to live longer than 12 months
Over 50s life insurance
Affordable over 50s cover that lasts a lifetime (whole of life policy).
Cover: £257 to £32,054 (subject to age and premium)
Payment: When you pass away
Free Parent Life Cover
A year’s worth of life cover for parents of children under 4. Absolutely free.
Age: 18-66 with a child under 4
Payment: If you pass away
What’s the most common critical illness claim?
Most of the claims we get are for cancer, and we often speak to people claiming for heart attacks, strokes, multiple sclerosis, benign brain tumours and Parkinson’s.
But everyone’s different, and we can’t predict the future. That’s why we cover as many as 53 illnesses, which are listed in the Critical Illness Plan policy summary (PDF 137 KB).
Take a look at our latest news and guides.
6 myths about life insurance
If you're thinking of getting life insurance, you might have come across a few common misconceptions while doing your research.
Want to switch your life insurance policy?
You might regularly review or change your car or home insurance policy. But is it worth doing the same with your life insurance?
Understanding critical illness cover
Find out more about the different types of critical illness cover available and what might be right for your family.
How does life insurance work?
From how much life insurance costs to who gets the money if you die during the policy term, here’s a simple guide to life insurance and how it works.
What is mortgage protection insurance?
Mortgage protection insurance is a type of term life insurance. Find out more about how mortgage protection insurance works, and how it can help you here.
What's the difference between life insurance and life assurance?
Life insurance and life assurance are terms that are often used interchangeably – but is there a difference?
Think you can't afford life insurance? You're not alone
Read our 4 top tips on how to make the cost of life insurance more manageable.
Within a few years of taking out critical illness cover, Linda received some bad news, completely out of the blue. Fortunately we could help her during this difficult time.
The difference between a death in service policy and life insurance
Understand the difference and why you might need both.
Should I buy a single or joint life insurance policy?
Understand the difference between both policies.
Understanding life insurance
Explore our different types of cover.
What is term life insurance?
There are 3 different types of term life insurance.
What happens to debt when someone dies?
Our guide to how finances are managed and debts are dealt with after a loved one passes away.
What happens to life insurance after divorce?
A simple guide to separating your life insurance policies if your relationship breaks down.
What is critical illness cover?
Critical Illness Cover pays out a lump sum to help cover costs should you fall ill. Find out how it could benefit you and your loved ones.
A financial guide to starting a family
Whether you're a new parent or have a little one on the way, here are our top tips for setting up your family's new finances.
Still need help? Give us a call.
Monday to Friday: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Saturday and Sunday: Closed
For our joint protection, telephone calls may be recorded and/or monitored and will be saved for a minimum of 5 years. Calls to 0800 numbers from UK landlines and mobiles are free.