Why cover?
  • affects 1 in 4 women / 1 in 5 men before retirement
  • 94.1% of the critical illness claims are paid
  • protect yourself and your family if you get seriously ill
Why us?
  • get the cover that will pay when you need it
  • save up to 35%, cover from £5 a month
  • free, fast and without obligation quotes
Insurers: Aviva, Legal & General, Liverpool Victoria, Scottish Widows, Vitality, Zurich

Will critical illness insurance cover any kind of cancer?

You buy critical illness insurance, knowing that it covers “cancer” and then the mistake would be to assume that the coverage will be for all types of cancer. For the standard policies, however, that is usually not the case.

Cancer Defined

Cancer is a disease that is potentially fatal. With this disease, the body’s normal cells grow and divide abnormally so that the other healthy cells are being destroyed. The cancer cells are spread to other body parts by way of the lymph and blood systems. There are approximately 100 types of cancer. Some are covered in critical illness while some are excluded.

ABI definition: The Association of British Insurers defines cancer (excluding less advanced cases) as “any malignant tumour positively diagnosed with histological confirmation and characterized by the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells and invasion of tissue”.

Know more by reading The exclusions to your critical illness policy

To ensure that the policy you have has your preferred level of coverage for cancer, it is best to ask questions like, “What cancers are covered by critical illness insurance?” or “Does critical illness cover skin cancer?” before you buy the cover.

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Remember, “critical illness” is for diseases that are life-threatening. Some cancers don’t fall under this definition since they are very treatable or are at the early stages.

What cancers are covered?

Cancers that are covered are those that are marked with a presence of a malignant tumour and there is histological confirmation that the malignant cells have grown uncontrollably and healthy tissue is being invaded and attacked.

Based on a claims report provided by Scottish Provident covering the first 6 months of 2012, the most common cancers being claimed against (listed by number of claims) are:

Type of Cancer % of cancer claims
Breast cancer 60%
Colon cancer 11%
Malignant Melanoma 8%
Prostate cancer 7%
Thyroid 4%
Leukemia 4%

Cancers involving the testicles, cervix, lungs, ear/nose/throat, ovaries, brain, pancreas, and lymphocytes comprised less than 3% each.

What cancers are not covered by critical illness insurance?

Cancers that are not often included are:

  • Skin cancer
  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) – this refers to a non-malignant tumour found in the breast.
  • Other types of cancers that have not yet attacked and infected the surrounding tissue.
  • Prostate cancer where the Gleason score is lower than 6 or have not progressed to at least clinical TNM classification T2N0M0
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

Although these are not covered under the “main benefit”, most critical illness covers provide partial payment for specified cancers (i.e. breast cancer or prostate cancer).

Why aren't illnesses like DCIS and skin cancer included?

The Cost of Treating Cancer

  • The average cost of cancer treatment is about £30,000. (2010 rates).
  • This is expected to rise to about £40,000 by 2021.

This is based on Bupa Report entitled Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment: A 2012 Projection.

With the medical advancements available nowadays, it is highly possible that the above conditions can respond positively to treatment and will be arrested before the condition worsens.

Also, with the available screening tests, doctors can already find and treat cancers before they become life-threatening. There is also a very high survival rate for these kinds of cancer, especially if these are discovered at an early stage.


If you are concerned about contracting cancer and would like critical illness cover for it, it is best to find a provider that defines cancer more broadly or that provides partial payments for cancers that are usually excluded. It is important to always make comparisons of the different features and coverages provided by different insurance policies. Also, the key is to read the fine print and not make assumptions on how illnesses are covered.

Last updated on: 18.1.2013

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