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

Are you at risk? Critical illnesses you may be susceptible to

Are you at risk of a critical illness? The main objection of some who are loath to take on a critical illness policy is that the possibility of getting seriously ill is so small that it’s not practical to get a policy.

But we beg to disagree. Depending on your lifestyle and family health history, some face the distinct possibility of getting critically ill.

Critical Illnesses Are More Common Than You Think

According to the UK Office of National Statistics:

  • Around 320,000 (male and female) were diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year during 2008 to 2010. There were also around 82,000 male and 75,000 female mortalities for cancer in each of those years, which converts to a mortality rate of 204 per 100,000 males and 149 per 100,000 females.
  • Of the cancers, the most common ones are breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer.
  • The standardized discharge rate (the number of persons admitted to the hospital) for heart attacks amounted to 348.5 for every 100,000 persons. Incidences of strokes amounted to 251.8 for every 100,000 males and 185.9 for every 100,000 females. This translates to 152,000 people having a stroke (as per The Stroke Association website 2012).
  • According to the Multiple Sclerosis Trust, there is an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people diagnosed with MS every year, translating to 50 – 60 people diagnosed every week.

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The Cover You Need

What illnesses are you concerned with? The following are the most commonly-made claims, according to The Critical Illness Claims Report by Scottish Provident for the first 6 months of 2012.

The table also includes the criteria for payment and exclusions. Please take note that the covered critical illnesses and their definitions can vary from policy to policy. It is still best to read the terms and conditions of the policy to know exactly how it is defined in the policy.

Critical Illness % of Claim* Criteria for Payment Exclusions
Cancer (excluding less advanced cases)


  • Breast Cancer (30%)
  • Bowel/Colon Cancer (11%)
  • Malignant Melanoma (8%)
  • Prostate Cancer (7%)
  • Thyroid cancer (4%)

Percentages based on total cancer claims.

Malignant tumour that exhibits invasion of tissue and growth of malignant cells that can’t be managed and overcome by treatments.

Less advanced cases are excluded. Exclusions:

  • Pre-malignant, has low malignant potential or just bordering on malignant
  • Non-invasive
  • A tumour that has little danger of becoming malignant
  • Skin cancer
  • Prostate cancer (having a Gleason rating of above 6)
  • Cancer in situ
  • Chronic leukaemia
Heart Attack (of specific severity)


Defined as acute myocardial infarction marked by:

  • Chest pain and other typical clinical symptoms
  • New characteristic electrocardiographic changes
  • An increase in Troponins or cardiac enzymes that are equal to or higher than 1.0 ng/ml (for Troponin) or .5 ng/ml (for AccuTnl)

Excludes angina and other acute coronary syndromes.



The stroke must result in dead brain tissue caused by the lack of blood supply or haemorrhage within the skull. This results in permanent neurological deficit with persisting clinical symptoms.

Excludes traumatic brain injury and transient ischaemic attach.

Multiple sclerosis


This should be diagnosed by a Consultant Neurologist and results in clinical impairment of motor or sensory function.

Symptoms should be manifest for a continuous period of at least 6 months. No payments made before this 6-month period.

Benign brain tumour


The tumour must be permanent and must show non-reversible neurological deficits. This should cover a cyst or non-malignant tumour:

  • in the brain
  • in the skull’s meninges
  • the cranial nerves

Tumours in the Angiomas and pituitary gland are excluded.

*Based on Scottish Provident Critical Illness Claims Report for the 1st half of 2012.

Additional Definitions

If the following illnesses concern you, follow these links to the corresponding articles to know more about the cover critical illness insurance provides for them:

To help you further assess the risk, we have come up with some additional descriptions of the usual list of critical conditions.

Please take note that the covered illnesses and their definitions can vary from policy to policy. It is still best to read the terms and conditions of the policy to know exactly how it is defined in the policy.

Critical Illness Criteria for Payment Exclusions
Alzheimer’s disease

The Insured must exhibit:

  • A highly deteriorated memory.
  • Inability to reason, understand and express ideas.
  • Mild forms of dementia are not considered.

The occurrence of this disease before a certain age (60) is not included in the cover.

Blindness / Deafness / Loss of speech

Should be total, irreversible and permanent.

  • For vision, this is measured 3/60 using a Snellen eye chart.
  • For hearing loss, the loss should be more than 95 decibels across all frequencies of the ear that can hear best./
  • The loss of speech should be due to an accident or illness.
Aorta graft surgery

Covers the thoracic and abdominal aorta.

Branches of the aorta are excluded. Stents and endovascular repair are also excluded.


This should produce symptoms that are both irreversible and permanent. The coma should last for more than 96 hours.

Coma caused by substance and drug abuse is excluded.

These are just some of the illnesses and conditions covered by the critical illness policies. Knowing this, you can more or less determine where you are at risk.

Does critical illness cover breast cancer and other “common” cancers?

Again, based on the Scottish Provident Critical Claims Report, 30% of all cancer claims are for breast cancer, while prostate cancer makes up 7% of all cancer claims. Breast cancer and prostate cancer are not included in the main cover.

However, there are critical illness covers that provide partial payments if you are diagnosed with these kinds of cancers.

Can you get covered for a critical illness if your parents already have that same illness?

It depends. Various companies have different underwriting guidelines. These are guidelines on how a critical illness policy is issued based on an individual’s specific physical condition. The underwriter will look into a combination of factors:

  • The applicant’s age and other health indicators (weight, blood pressure, etc.)
  • The number of relative (parents and siblings) diagnosed with a certain illness (i.e. stroke, cancer)
  • The age when the relatives were diagnosed
  • Other risk factors, such as a smoking habit, poor diet and weight maintenance

Depending on the severity of the critical illness and the possibility that it may be genetic, a critical illness may be excluded from the cover but the policy may still be issued and cover the rest of the critical illnesses in the list.

Last updated on: 18.1.2013

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