Buying critical illness insurance with a family history of cancer

6 min Read Published: 17 Jun 2022

Buying critical illness insurance with a family history of cancerIn this article, we explain what cancer insurance is available if someone in your family has been diagnosed with cancer. For many, it is a time when you may become concerned about your own health, especially if the type of cancer is one that has strong genetic links.

Witnessing the material impact on someone's life after a cancer diagnosis can alert us to the great need for financial support as well as the other types of cancer support that are available through personal insurance policies.

Critical illness insurance policies offer a lump sum payment or an income if you are diagnosed with cancer and even provide peripheral benefits such as access to a second medical opinion, the support of a nurse or wellbeing practitioner amongst other non-financial benefits.

Can I be covered for cancer if there is a history of cancer in my family?

Yes, you can be covered for cancers that have affected a family member but this will depend on a few factors which we've answered below. Importantly, you are not required to offer any information, during a life insurance application regarding any genetic testing that you may have undertaken as a result of the cancer diagnosis for a family member but of course, you may choose to do so if the test was negative.

Which family member was diagnosed with cancer?

Critical illness insurance companies only ask you about the medical history of certain members of your family including your natural parents, brother and sisters. To confirm, you are not required to inform them about illnesses that have affected an aunt, uncle, grandparent or cousin. Furthermore, if you don't know this information, you should say that you do not know to avoid a claim being declined in the future due to misrepresentation during the application process.

What age was your family member when they were diagnosed with cancer?

You will usually only have to disclose any diagnosis of cancer that was made before the age of 60 or 65 depending on the insurance company. Cancers with strong hereditary traits that have been diagnosed for an immediate family member at a young age are likely to be excluded from your critical illness insurance cover depending on what age you are at the time of the application.

Which cancer was your family member diagnosed with?

Some cancers are deemed to have hereditary traits and are more likely to be excluded from your insurance if an immediate family member was diagnosed with it under the age of 60. However, some insurance companies may be willing to offer cancer cover to you without an exclusion but by charging you a higher premium due to the increased risk that you may claim against your critical illness cover. Hereditary cancers or cancers that can have a strong genetic link might include breast cancer, ovarian cancer and bowel cancer.

Sourcing the best critical illness insurance for hereditary cancer

Critical illness insurance pays out a lump sum if you receive a cancer diagnosis as well as cover for other medical conditions such as a heart attack or stroke. Cancer is one of the most common reasons for claims against this type of personal protection insurance but not all critical illness insurance policies provide the same cancer cover and insurance companies assess your family history of cancer differently. For these reasons, buying critical illness insurance that provides the right kind of peace of mind can be vital.

Although there are many online comparison sites that will compare the cost of critical illness insurance, most do not provide adequate support for those who wish to understand how the quality of cancer cover within the terms and conditions compares. Online comparison sites also fail to ask the right kinds of questions to determine any other pre existing details about your health and lifestyle that may affect which insurance company will be best for you. Speaking to a critical illness insurance expert* will provide you with support to:

  • understand what cancers are covered
  • discuss your family history of cancer so that you can avoid the insurers who may exclude cancer cover for you
  • choose the type of cover that is right for you - income protection insurance should be considered alongside critical illness insurance
  • choose a level of cover that fits your needs and budget

Furthermore, you'll receive up to £100 cashback if you choose to buy the critical illness insurance offered to you by the specialist adviser.


If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article