What Is Critical Illness Cover and How Does It Work?

Critical illness cover protects you and your loved ones if you were to become ill.

In a nutshell, critical illness cover protects you and your loved ones from the financial impact of a critical illness such as cancer, or having a heart attack or stroke. You would receive this lump sum payout while you are still alive.

How does it work?

Critical Illness cover is a type of life insurance policy that usually pays out a one off, tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed with an illness that’s listed on your policy. The money can be used to cover health related expenses or supplement your lost income while you recover.

Critical illness cover can be added to a life insurance policy for an extra cost, or it can be bought on its own.

What is covered?

Each insurance company has a specific list of illnesses that are covered with almost all covering ‘the big 3’ - some cancers, heart attacks and strokes. Some others include:

  • Organ failure
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease

Some policies also cover children for free! It’s important to do your research and always check the list before signing up as each company lists different conditions.

*It’s important to read your documents thoroughly because there will most likely be limits to your protection. It may only cover you once your illness hits a level of severity or only cover you with specific symptoms. Read carefully!

Why should I get it?

If you wouldn’t have enough savings to cover your expenses if you were to fall ill, critical illness cover may be right for you. While the government does offer benefits of up to £95.85, this may not be enough to replace your income, especially if your employer does not offer sick pay too.

Also, if you have no dependents who would rely on your life insurance payout if you were to die, critical illness cover may be a better option for you as it pays out while you are still alive.

What factors affect the price?

If you’re healthy, it should be quick and easy to get covered. However, the amount that your critical illness insurance will cost each month depends on a few things.

  • The amount of cover you’re looking for
  • Your age
  • Your health and lifestyle (including smoking and alcohol consumption)
  • Any pre-existing medical conditions
  • Your current personal circumstances
  • The term (meaning how long you want to be covered for)

*If you’ve had an illness in the past or any pre-existing conditions, you need to be honest. This shouldn’t mean that you won’t get covered but it could mean that it is more expensive.


At Bequest, we don’t currently offer critical illness cover but we are looking forward to the day we do! Check out our Bequest Life Insurance FAQs for more information about the types of life insurance we offer.

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FF Bequest Limited, trading as Bequest, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority with firm reference number 923791. You can check our authorisation on the FCA Financial Services Register by visiting the following website: register.fca.org.uk . We are registered in England and Wales, Registered office address: Founders Factory, Northcliffe House, London, United Kingdom, W8 5EH. Company Number 12367897.

Regulated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) [ZA662891]. "Bequest" is trademark protected by FF Bequest Limited (UK00003452648). FF Bequest Limited is registered in England and Wales, No 12367897.

0203 916 5433

FF Bequest Limited, trading as Bequest, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority with firm reference number 923791. You can check our authorisation on the FCA Financial Services Register by visiting the following website: register.fca.org.uk . We are registered in England and Wales, Registered office address: Founders Factory, Northcliffe House, London, United Kingdom, W8 5EH. Company Number 12367897.

Regulated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) [ZA662891]. "Bequest" is trademark protected by FF Bequest Limited (UK00003452648). FF Bequest Limited is registered in England and Wales, No 12367897.

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