Critical illness insurance will pay out if you get one of the specific medical conditions or injuries listed in the policy. But be aware that not all conditions are covered and the policy may also state how serious the condition must be. Do not confuse critical illness cover with life insurance, although they are sometimes sold together. Most policies will also consider permanent disabilities as a result of injury or illness. Some insurance providers will only pay out once but there are some providers that offer protection on your policy. Some policies will make a smaller payment for less severe conditions, or if one of your children has one of the specified conditions. The key here is to know what you want covering and do your research. Always check that you are getting the best deal for your circumstances.

Who needs it?

Different people will need critical illness cover for a variety of reasons. If you are single, you might want a policy to ensure your mortgage is paid, and some form of cover is often a requirement of the mortgage application. If you have children, you may want to ensure your family is provided for if you can not work due to ill health. Recovering from a critical illness can also mean extra costs for you and your family e.g. making changes to your home or hospital costs. Your pay-out could be used to cover this.

Should I get critical illness insurance?

Most people will benefit from a critical illness policy, but the impact of the premium and the benefit of the payout will vary from person to person. It’s a matter of weighing up the monthly cost against the benefits of a pay-out. If you and your family depend heavily on your salary, it could be exactly the kind of protection you need. If you have no financial commitments or dependents, critical illness insurance may not be for you.

How much cover do I need?

Traditionally, critical illness plans pay out the full amount regardless of how serious your illness actually is. Some offer severity-based cover, where the payout depends on how bad your illness is which can be beneficial in a lot of ways. When deciding on how much cover you need, think about what you would lose if you were unable to work due to illness. Also, think about what financial commitments you would still have, such as children or a mortgage.

Which illnesses are covered?

Illnesses covered will vary between insurers, so it’s important to check the details of a policy before you buy. Policies commonly cover illnesses such as some types of cancer, heart attacks and strokes, and may include optional add-on illnesses.

Other conditions that could be classed as critical illness include:

  • Major organ transplant
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Deafness
  • Traumatic head injury
  • Bacterial meningitis

A critical illness and terminal illness are different things – a standard life insurance policy should cover any illness where you are expected to die within 12 months of diagnosis.

Your medical history

You will be required to give some details about your medical history in order to get a critical illness insurance quote. This is so that an insurer can determine how much of a risk you are, and calculate an accurate price. It is important to be honest – your insurer could void any future claims if they find out that the information on your application is false.

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