What is critical illness cover?

Critical illness cover is a type of health insurance that pays out a sum of money if you're diagnosed with a specific medical condition or illness listed in your policy. Although it’s a type of health insurance, a critical illness policy has very specific limitations.

Critical illness cover definition

Critical illness cover, in general, costs a lot less than health insurance. That, in itself, is an indication that the two policies are intended to deliver different benefits. Both types of policy offer financial compensation for long-term debilitating conditions. It’s how you use that money, and how much money is available – that’s the key.

Health insurance focuses on providing funds for treatment and may not have an upper limit on the amount of money it will pay out. Critical illness cover focuses on the finances themselves – it gives you a specific sum of money, usually quite quickly, that you can use to spend on anything.

You’re not obliged to spend the payout from a critical illness policy on medical care – although many people do. You might decide the money is useful for paying household bills if you’re unable to work for a long period of time; to explore alternative care; to pay for other everyday living costs; or – if the absolute worst should happen – to make provisions for your loved ones or specific plans in the end stages of life.

One of the striking differences between health insurance and critical illness cover is that health insurance excludes conditions that it won’t payout for, but critical illness cover is very specific about the conditions that it will cover. Every insurer has a different list of specific conditions covered by its critical illness policy. Vitality, for example, define and describe 178 specific conditions. Aviva, on the other hand, cover 54 illnesses but the scope of each policy is different.

Does Better Health offer critical illness cover?

No. We do work with many of the leading insurers who provide these policies, but we only make recommendations on health insurance policies. If you’d like to support in choosing critical illness cover, we recommend talking to an independent financial advisor.

For questions about health insurance, talk to our expert Healthcare Consultants. If you have more questions about the differences between critical illness cover and health insurance, we’re also happy to help – but we can’t offer advice on buying critical illness cover.

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