Aviva Cancer Essentials review – How does it work and is it any good?

6 min Read Published: 01 Sep 2022

Aviva cancer essentialsIn this article, we take a close look at Aviva's Cancer Essentials insurance policy, a basic, cancer health insurance product for those on a tight budget. We'll explain how Cancer Essentials works, what is and isn't covered, how much you can expect to pay as well as the available alternative options.

What is Cancer Essentials insurance?

Cancer Essentials insurance is a niche health insurance policy that sits alongside other Aviva health insurance options but specifically covers the diagnosis of cancer. If a policyholder is diagnosed with cancer, the policy provides three different benefits.

  • A cash lump sum of £5,000
  • Access to £100,000 of cancer drugs not available through the NHS
  • Access to a trained specialist cancer nurse

The policy is simple and provides insurance for people worried about the immediate financial future and the practical and emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer Essentials - £5,000 cash benefit explained

The cash lump sum of £5,000 can be used by the policyholder in any way they see fit. The money could supplement paying your bills during a period of time off work as well as childcare, travel to hospital or even some initial private medical treatment.

Cancer Essentials - Access to cancer drugs explained

While many cancer treatments and drugs are available through the NHS, there may be cases where a patient has to apply to the NHS Cancer Drugs Fund to access drugs that fall outside of this. It can be worrying to think that you may not be able to afford the drugs needed to treat your cancer. Access to £100,000 worth of cancer drugs if you fall into this situation can offer some peace of mind in this respect.

Cancer Essentials - Access to cancer helpline explained

A cancer diagnosis can lead to confusion, anxiety, stress and may bring about practical problems at home and work. Aviva cancer essentials insurance provides you with access to a helpline that supports you via a dedicated nurse adviser. You can receive practical advice as well as counselling or therapy. A series of phone calls from a specialist nurse can be organised for you who can arrange a second medical opinion from an NHS or private medical professional if required.

How does Cancer Essentials insurance work?

Cancer Essentials is a limited private medical insurance that focuses on providing specific benefits in the event that the policyholder is diagnosed with cancer.

Aviva Cancer Essentials policy summary

Policy Name Aviva Cancer Essentials
Main benefits £5,000 lump sum cash benefit upon cancer diagnosis

£100,000 towards cancer drugs not accessible through the NHS or the Cancer Drugs Fund

Cancer helpline 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday

Policy term 12-month contract with automatic renewal at the anniversary
Qualifying rules UK residents only aged 18 to 70 years old
Payment options Monthly or annually payable by direct debit from a UK bank account only
Cancellation 14-day cancellation with a full refund of the first premium paid

Cancellation after 14 days possible but no refund of premium

What is excluded from Cancer Essentials insurance?

When buying any insurance product it is vital to understand what the policy will not cover to avoid any disappointment if your claim is denied. As we described earlier in this article, Cancer Essentials insurance is a limited private medical insurance and cannot be compared with the benefits provided by a full health insurance policy or critical illness insurance policy.

Besides the fact that Cancer Essentials only covers the policyholder against a cancer diagnosis, there are other caveats to making a successful claim for the cash benefit, accessing cancer drugs and using the helpline which we outline below.

Cancer Essentials cash benefit limitations

There is only one cash benefit of £5,000 payable if you are diagnosed with cancer and the cover does not renew once you pass the policy anniversary. This means that a person who has been diagnosed with cancer and has successfully claimed £5,000 cannot make another successful claim if they were to be diagnosed with cancer again.

Aviva Cancer Essentials exclusions

The following exclusions apply to Aviva's Cancer Essential insurance policy:

  • You are not covered if you are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer unless it has spread to lymph nodes or organs.
  • You are not covered if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer unless active treatment is recommended by an NHS specialist
  • Any cancer diagnosis within the 10 years preceding the start date of your policy will invalidate the cover.
  • If you have had a lump or mole that was unexplained in the 10 years preceding the start date of your policy and you are subsequently diagnosed with cancer, your claim will not be successful.

How much does Aviva Cancer Essentials cost?

Age Monthly premium for Cancer Essentials - Non-smoker Monthly premium for Cancer Essentials - Smoker
20 £2.09 £2.89
30 £2.63 £3.64
40 £3.66 £5.08
50 £6.53 £9.05

Is Aviva Cancer Essentials insurance any good?

For the price, it isn't a poor insurance product but other insurance products provide more comprehensive cover for cancer. Full private medical insurance, income protection insurance, critical illness cover and even life insurance can be useful and valuable insurances that can support you if you're diagnosed with cancer while not being limited to cancer. Many of these types of insurance include access to mental health support and access to specialist nurses as well as a second medical opinion if you feel you need one.

Aviva Cancer Essentials alternatives

Below we list some of the products you may want to consider looking at as an alternative to a Cancer Essentials policy.

Full private medical insurance

This type of insurance is not limited to providing insurance for a cancer diagnosis, making it more comprehensive. It can usually fund more private treatment than may be afforded with a £5,000 cash lump sum from Cancer Essentials. Furthermore, the insurance allows multiple claims making it far more valuable than one payout during the lifetime of a Cancer Essentials policy. However, this is reflected in the price and must be considered when comparing these two policies.

Income protection insurance

Income protection insurance can replace up to 70% of your gross income if you become unable to work due to incapacity. Periods of cancer treatment and recovery need not cause financial stress if you have this type of insurance and the payments could cover a longer period of income loss than a £5,000 payout on a Cancer Essentials policy. On the other hand, it does not pay an upfront lump sum of money. Again, this type of insurance is not limited to a cancer diagnosis.

Critical illness cover

This insurance provides a cash lump sum and pays out for the diagnosis of many but not all cancers. However, it does cover several other illnesses such as strokes, heart attacks, organ failure and most providers will cover you for around 70 different illnesses. The lump-sum cash benefit is not limited to £5,000 and you can choose a higher amount of benefit. You may even find that you can get more cover for your money at the lower end of monthly insurance premiums. If you are a young, healthy individual that does not smoke, you should consider getting a quote for critical illness insurance to compare the cost and benefits.

Life insurance

Life insurance can be extremely useful if a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness including cancer.  The death benefit can be claimed early if a consultant confirms that the insured person is unlikely to survive beyond 12 months. So this type of insurance benefit will not help if the cancer is treatable and unlikely to cause death within 12 months. It does however have the advantage of being fairly low cost and it provides a payout to your chosen beneficiaries if you were to die as a result of any illness or injury.

Best way to buy Aviva Cancer Essentials

Aviva Cancer Essentials is available to buy online through the Aviva website

The application is simple and quick to complete. You can get a quote in just a few clicks by providing your name, date of birth, smoker status, address, telephone number and email address. You will then be asked whether you wish to pay monthly or annually followed by a form to complete your bank details to set up your direct debit. You can apply for the policy online and it can be administered via your chosen online login.

Before buying a cancer insurance policy, we would recommend that you speak to an independent protection specialist* that can advise you on the best type of cancer cover for your circumstances. Additionally, if you contact the insurance specialist via the link above, you will qualify for up to £100 cashback when you take out a policy. Just click on the link provided and complete the short form to request a call at a time that suits you.


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 - LifeSearch