It’s tempting to think that critical illness cover is just a nice-to-have. Something to sit alongside your life insurance for a bit more protection.

By the same token, it’s tempting to think you can probably let go of it if you’re looking to cut spending. Which quite a lot of people, calculators in hand, are right now.

But having critical illness cover might prove to be more beneficial than not.

Even when you’re boxing fit, if you’re diagnosed with the kind of condition that stops you picking up that pay cheque, it’s going to be a long, hard, expensive journey. That's where your critical illness cover could help -  think of it as a strong, sympathetic, deep-pocketed partner propping you up as you face that journey.

So, when thinking about your cover – especially in light of today’s climbing cost of living – it’s useful to think about value versus cost.

And if you’re doing that, it also makes sense to look at what critical illness cover can actually do for you.

What’s critical illness cover?

It’s cover that protects you if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness. It’s not about leaving money behind (like life insurance); it’s about making sure you’ve got money to help you cope with an illness in the future.

It does that by paying out a tax-free amount of money for you to use how you like. That could be to cover health-related costs or to cover your income while you make a comeback.

In simple terms, critical illness cover (PDF 220KB) helps take the pressure off your bank balance while you’re ill and having treatment.

To give you an idea of numbers, in 2023 the average critical illness cover claim amount we paid was £74,803. That sort of money goes a long way to helping you feel like you again.

What does critical illness insurance cover?

You’ll find that different insurers cover different things. Our policy can cover as many as 52 different illnesses.

Everyone’s different and we’ve helped customers claiming for such things as strokes, heart attacks, benign brain tumours, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

However, most of the claims we get are for cancer. So let’s look at this in a bit more detail.

Critical illness cover and cancer

We’ve partnered with Macmillan Cancer Support. Their research shows that almost one in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our livesFootnote [1]. By Macmillan’s estimates, someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer every 90 seconds.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, given those pretty sobering stats, 58.4% of all critical illness claims we paid in 2023 were for cancer. Footnote [2]

That’s an important number because the financial impact of cancer hits as hard as anything else. Macmillan’s research shows that 83% of people with cancer in the UK face an average £891 a month on top on their usual household billsFootnote [3]. Those extra costs come from things like travel, hospital parking, increased electricity, heating, and water use at home and so on.

That’s quite the bill and far more than critical illness cover costs. In fact, over half our customers pay £19.00 a month or less for their cover.

Is critical illness cover worth it?

We've seen the numbers - it's hard to ignore the value of your policy and how it could help you and your family. And when the time comes to claim, we do much more than just pay up and leave you to it.

Our partnership with Macmillan means, as part of your claim journey with us, we’ll put together rehabilitation and back-to-work packages to give you the clinical and emotional support you need.

A great example of our cover in action is described by Linda. She took out critical illness cover with us when she bought her house. Then she got some bad news about her health, exactly when she least expected it.

Find out more about critical illness cover or, if you’re ready  to go now, get a quote in minutes.

Linda's story

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. 

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My name's Linda Hood. I am a finance business partner for a government department. In August last year I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, which was a bit of a blow to say the least, because I hadn't had any symptoms at all, was feeling perfectly fit and healthy, was running, doing my house up, doing my garden.

I went to the hospital, and that was that really. And I phoned … It was really an afterthought to be honest, because you're trying to process all this information that they're giving you. The lady I spoke to was lovely. Really, really, lovely, and very sympathetic, and great empathy, and I'm really sorry, and don't worry about it we'll deal with everything for you. We'll contact your doctors, and the hospital, and to give us all those details, and we'll make sure that we keep in touch with you.

And I cried…

….and because it was such a huge relief, because you don't know what the future's gonna hold. At the end of the day, you don't know whether the cancer's gonna come back or not. If you've got that relief in knowing that your mortgage is paid for, and you're not gonna get turfed out of your house, you are not gonna get your house repossessed it's just such a wonderful feeling, and it just means you can concentrate on looking after yourself, and getting yourself prepared for the chemo, and just coming to terms with everything, and just getting on with life, and not having to worry about where the money's gonna come from.

My whole process along the line with Aviva has just been fantastic really, the people I've spoken to, the communications methods have been great, and obviously the end result paying off my mortgage is just fantastic.

You know they ask "How are you doing? How's everything going? How's the treatment going?" I said I was about to start the chemo. I think it was the following week. Again, he said "I hope it's not too severe, and I hope you manage all right with it." So it really felt like you were a real person, and not just a number, or a statistic. It felt like they actually had an interest in you as a human being, which is something else that's really, really nice when you're going through this process… so to be treated as a human being, and for somebody to pick up on how frightened you are, or how worried you are about things, is lovely. It really is.

I have to say you hear all kinds of horror stories about insurances, but I have to say I've had no quibbles with Aviva at all. I'm living proof that they've paid out. It's been simple, easy, stress-free. It's been great.

Covered today, protected tomorrow

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