Best Critical Illness Cover

What is the best critical illness cover on the market?

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What is the best critical illness cover on the market?

As with many things, what works for one might not work for another.

This type of insurance policy covers a number of serious health conditions, giving a lump-sum payout on diagnosis of a serious illness such as heart attack, stroke, or cancer.

A person’s own medical history will determine how risk-exposed they are to a particular illness, and as such helps guide what policy works best for them.

In addition to that people will have their own risk preference, and manage the risk in their own lives to differing degrees.

In addition, your premium levels and coverage offered by a prospective provider will also be determined by your personal circumstance and medical history, so again, a particular critical illness cover on offer to one individual might not be available to another.

Let’s look at the various things one can use to determine what is the best critical illness cover out there.

Personal Circumstances

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You will be asked to decide how much Critical Illness Cover you would like i.e. the size of the lump-sum paid to you in the event of a covered diagnosis.

In terms of the best Critical Illness Cover for you here, you have to make sure it meets your financial needs if your ability to work and earn is compromised.

Think about what you need the insurance to protect: mortgage, living costs, private medical bills.

You will also need to get a policy that is able to protect you for as long as you need it to.

This varies depending on individual circumstances, but also look at what you are trying to provide financial protection for in the first place.

For example, when will your mortgage come to an end, and when will your family and dependents become self-sufficient?

In addition, you don’t have to purchase Critical Illness Cover as a single policyholder.

Should you have a partner and child, a policy that allows joint policy holders and additional coverage for children might be more cost-effective.

On the other hand, whilst two single policies may be more expensive than a joint policy, it will mean that if one policy is claimed against then the other policy payout remains intact.

Individual Health and Medical History

Your medical history and current health status could mean some insurers are less willing to provide certain aspects of coverage.

For example if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age then you will probably find that your policy comes with a breast cancer exclusion.

It is more likely that a condition will be excluded from the policy than a more expensive premium, however it depends on the condition in question, and the insurance provider.

Just because one insurer refuses a particular coverage in their quote does not mean there are others out there who will also insist on that exclusion, so it is advisable to hunt around for a product that will meet your needs.


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All insurers will provide different conditions, not just dependent on an individual’s history, but also generally in terms of their standard offering.

Some might cover more critical illnesses than others, or indeed give higher payouts for less severe or advanced conditions such as cancer for example.

The typical list of covered illnesses include the following:

Typical Conditions Covered

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Aortic surgery
  • Aplastic anaemia
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Benign brain tumour
  • Blindness
  • Cancer (life-threatening)
  • Coma
  • Coronary artery- bypass surgery
  • Deafness
  • Heart attack
  • Heart valve replacement
  • Kidney failure
  • Loss of independent existence
  • Loss of limbs
  • Loss of speech
  • Major organ transplant
  • Major organ failure on waiting list
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Occupational HIV infection
  • Paralysis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Severe burns
  • Stroke (Cerebrovascular accident)

Additional Policy Features

Many insurance providers give policy enhancements to make their product stand out from the crowd.

A policy that is not much more expensive than another might actually be worth the extra cost once one factors in additional policy features.

These could be a real “value-add” to make your life easier when you need the cover to respond to an unfortunate life circumstance.

Here are some of the policy enhancements to look for:

Complimentary legal advice service

This service offers advice over the telephone and also guidance in relevant legal matters.

Policy in trust

The policy allows for the claimant to put the lump-sum award in trust meaning it will go directly to your named beneficiaries, instead of to your legal estate (i.e. the sum of your assets).

The benefit of this is that insurance payout will not be subject to inheritance tax.

Second medical opinion

If you are not happy with your proposed treatment after your first diagnosis, you have the option to seek out a second medical opinion from another GP.

Cover during underwriting

This means that between the time of making an application and when the policy is confirmed you will have some form of insurance coverage.

The amount of cover available will be in your policy documentation.

Children’s critical illness

In the event your child gets diagnosed with a critical illness, the policy will respond, paying a lump-sum.

The amount you will receive will be in your policy documentation.

Defaqto Ratings

Whilst Critical Illness policy’s appropriateness for a person is largely determined by their individual circumstance, there is an objective guide that allows for independent comparison between product offerings and insurance providers: Defaqto.

This is a service that compares financial products.

It then gives them a star rating based on the features and benefits they offer, with 5 stars being the top rating, and meaning that it provides one of the highest quality offerings in the market.

Here are all the current 5 star rated Critical Illness policy providers (and the product name) from Defaqto for 2020: