Critical illness is an insurance policy that pays out a lump sum if you are diagnosed with one of the defined illnesses listed on the policy. While it can be expensive, especially if you want to take out enough to cover to pay off your entire mortgage, more and more people are opting to take out a smaller lump sum which can help towards recovery, whether by seeking treatment abroad or simply taking time off of work to recuperate. Taking out a smaller lump sum is certainly better than taking out no cover at all.
Critical illness insurance is not to be confused with income protection, a policy that pays out a regular income if you are unable to work. In an ideal world, you should have both, but many people find themselves choosing between either critical illness or income protection. To find out whether income protection is something you should consider, check out our article 'Income protection - do you really need it?'.
Tips to buying critical illness insurance
Not every critical illness policy is the same and every insurance company has different underwriting criteria and so below we have created 7 tips to help you buy the best and cheapest critical illness cover, including how to get £50 cashback.
Tip 1 - Stay within budget
Don't overstretch yourself. Work out how much you can realistically afford and stick to it. There is no point in taking out a policy which you will struggle to afford as you will only end up cancelling it. Having some cover is better than no cover at all.
Tip 2 - How much do you truly need?
Critical illness cover is designed to pay out a lump sum upon diagnosis of a critical illness. The lump-sum can be used towards anything you like, however most will use it to help bridge the gap in income if they have to take a break from work. The great news is that most people will recover from a critical illness and so a smaller lump sum, perhaps enough to cover a year's salary, is a sensible option and helps to cut down the cost of the cover.
Tip 3 - Understand what you are buying
Do your research and understand what it is that you are buying. As we mentioned earlier, critical illness insurance is very different from income protection and there are other insurance policies which are often confused with critical illness such as accident sickness and unemployment cover. We would recommend speaking to an independent insurance specialist as they will be able to answer all of your questions and ensure the cover you are buying is right for you. We talk more about this in tip number 7, as well as how to get £50 cashback when you take out cover.
Tip 4 - Quality not quantity
The quality of the insurance that you are buying is often far more important than the quantity of illnesses covered on the insurance. Some insurance companies, for example, may cover a higher number of illnesses on the policy, but they may have strict claims criteria or a poor claims record making it more difficult to claim. An independent insurance specialist can talk you through the options so that you understand exactly what you are buying.
Tip 5 - Guaranteed or reviewable rates?
When you buy critical illness insurance you are given a choice of guaranteed or reviewable rates. Reviewable rate critical illness policies are often cheaper from outset, but they will be reviewed and subsequently increase each year. If you are planning to keep your critical illness policy for the full term, then you are often better going for a guaranteed rate policy because although it is more expensive from outset, you know exactly what you will be paying and it will end up cheaper in the long run.
Tip 6 - Check the claims statistics
Contrary to popular belief, insurance companies do not like declining insurance claims as it gains unwanted negative press and can harm future sales. It is important to understand that most insurance claims are declined due to 'non-disclosure' which means that something important was not disclosed to the insurance company at the time of the application. The best way to ensure this doesn't happen is to spend extra time when applying, making sure that everything is noted. If you are not sure, then ask the insurance company to write to your doctor. Most insurance companies pay over 95% of claims and so you shouldn't get too hung up on whether your policy will pay out or not. Again, speaking to an independent specialist can help as they will ensure that all of your medical information is detailed on the application form and so there would be very little chance of the policy not paying out.
Tip 7 - Speak to an independent specialist
When it comes to buying critical illness cover it can be difficult knowing where to start. Online comparison sites are a good start, but they provide relatively little information and it can be difficult to compare the policies as every provider will cover a different number of illnesses. The best way to buy the cheapest critical illness cover is to speak to an independent specialist such as LifeSearch*, the UK's biggest life and critical illness insurance specialist.
An independent specialist can:
- guarantee to find the cheapest quotes
- provide independent advice over the telephone, explaining which policy is best and why
- help you to complete the application forms
- chase the insurance company (and doctor if required)
- provide aftersales services such as helping to put policies into trust and contacting you if they find cheaper cover
- provide help during the claims process
In addition to the above, LifeSearch* also offers £50 cashback when you take out a policy. LifeSearch has over 9,500 reviews on independent review site Trustpilot, scoring an aeverage of 4.9 out of 5.0.
Critical illness insurance is not for everyone. It is relatively expensive and it has its limitations however it does provide a valuable lump sum at a time when the last thing you want to be worrying about is money. Just getting a small amount of cover is better than no cover at all and it can be cost-effective, especially if you add it to life insurance as an additional 'bolt on', as the administration cost is then reduced.
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
Looking for a financial adviser near you?
Do you need financial advice? An independent financial adviser can show you how to make the most
of your money. Find your nearest qualified and regulated adviser using this VouchedFor search tool.