Thinking about becoming seriously ill is something everyone wants to avoid. But unfortunately, it can happen.
Without the right insurance cover in place, you could suffer financial hardship if you become critically ill – which is hard enough, without the extra worry that being out of pocket brings.
Critical illness cover protects you if you are diagnosed with a critical illness before the end date of your policy. And a claim is normally paid provided you survive past a specified number of days after the diagnosis or following the operation. Your provider will pay out a tax-free lump sum, but the illness must be listed in the policy and meet the definition specified.
Critical illness insurance policies don’t cover every type of medical condition. The kinds of illnesses covered are usually long-term and serious. For example for some illnesses you would need to have permanent and ongoing symptoms. Every insurance provider has a different list of illnesses they define as critical, so make sure you check what you’d be covered for before you sign up.
It’s important to have a thorough read of the terms and conditions of your provider’s policy before you agree to take out critical illness cover. You may also want to discuss this with your insurer if you’re not sure of something, either in person or over the phone.
The core conditions always covered by critical illness are: 
Comprehensive critical illness policies often cover around 40-50 conditions, so make sure you read the terms of a policy before taking it out. Other illnesses often covered include: 
Every claim is different, and your medical and family history are sometimes factors. Check with your insurer if specific conditions are covered and in what circumstances they may not be.
Each insurance provider will state in their policy what is excluded. The most common exclusions, that people may think they can claim for, are:
Even if your illness is listed in the conditions that are covered, it must also match the definition given for that illness within your policy. Some types of non-invasive cancer aren’t covered, for example.
Also some causes of critical illness may be excluded where it’s clear that the activity could directly impact an individual's health. The number and type of exclusions varies between insurance companies, but some examples may include:
It is important to ask your insurer what exclusions are in their policies and to read through these exclusions carefully.
If you were to pass away before the specified time between diagnosis and death in your policy, your provider may not pay out. For example, if your policy states no payment will be made if death occurs within 14 days of diagnosis or having an operation. However, if death happens after 14 days of diagnosis and before the end date of the policy, a death claim could be paid, if your policy also includes life insurance cover that pays out on death. Not all policies will include this.
Each different insurers policy varies. Before buying cover, ask the insurer which cancers their policy includes. Cancers that are often not included are:
Potentially. The next of kin usually arranges the funeral and is responsible for the cost. As the next of kin is normally the spouse, partner or a child of the policyholder, they may also be the beneficiary of the insurance.
If you have any questions about paying for a funeral, your local funeral director can give advice.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) produce a guide to minimum standards for Critical Illness insurance, which all of their member insurance companies agree to follow. It provides that, to be called “critical illness” insurance, policies must include cover for cancer, heart attack and stroke according to specified minimum definitions of those conditions. It also sets out minimum definitions for some other conditions which insurers may or may not offer.
You can read more about Critical Illness insurance insurance on the ABI’s website. The ABI also produce a consumer guide to Critical Illness insurance which you may find useful.
Critical illness insurance can help protect your home, family and lifestyle through stressful times. Learn more about critical illness insurance and how to claim with LV=
 Heart Statistics - British Heart Foundation