Critical illness cover

A helping hand for you and your loved ones

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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.

Children’s cover

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

Standalone policy

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.

Level cover

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.

Cover and premiums that remain the same over time

Decreasing cover

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
Cover and premiums that decrease over time

What our critical illness insurance covers

What's included

  • 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
    See the list of 53 conditions (PDF 202 KB)
  • 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.

5 Star Defaqto Critical Illness Direct
  • 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

Policy documents for critical illness cover

See a full list of what's covered in our policy wording.


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

Linda's story

“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. 

Ready to get cover?

Get a quote in minutes. And if you want to take out life insurance and critical illness cover together, just apply via our life insurance page.

Looking for more cover?

Here are some other ways to help protect your family’s future.

Life insurance

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.

Age: 18-89 

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).

Age: 50-80 

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 

Cover: £15,000

Payment: If you pass away
 

How our claims process works

If you need to make a claim, we’ll make sure it’s a smooth process.

Step 1

Let us know

You can make a claim online or over the phone.

Call us on 0800 015 1142 from the UK or use our online claim form.

Step 2

Expert review

Our team of experts will review your claim and contact you if they need any more information.

We might also need to contact your GP or consultant for any medical information relating to your claim.

Step 3

Paying your claim

If agreed, we'll make the claim payment within 5 working days of our decision. 


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).

Already with us?

If you would like to call us about an existing policy you can find our contact details here.

Find out about the different ways you can make a claim.

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Contact us

Still need help? Give us a call.

0800 068 5549

Monday to Friday: 8:00am - 5:00pm

Saturday and Sunday: Closed

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