It is a type of insurance that pays you a lump sum if you get diagnosed with a serious illness during the policy's term.

How does critical illness cover work?

If you have critical illness insurance and get diagnosed with a condition named in your policy, you can make a claim and receive a payout.

The amount you get is tax free and can go towards your medical expenses, but you could spend the payout on anything, e.g. a luxury holiday.

How to choose the right critical illness policy

To help you find the best critical illness policy, think about:

  • How much cover you need: Each insurer offers a maximum amount of cover you can claim, ranging from 25,000 to an unlimited amount.

  • What conditions you want covered: Most policies offer cover for types of strokes, cancer and heart attacks, with some also covering up to 114 different conditions.

  • How long you want the policy for: Each insurer sets a maximum term you can have a policy for, or up to a set age, whichever comes soonest.

  • Your age: This could affect your ability to get critical illness cover, with some insurers not letting you apply for a policy when you reach a certain age, e.g. 59.

However, if you want cover that is not limited to a set term, or ends when you reach a certain age, you could get whole of life critical illness cover instead.

Use this comparison to find a critical illness policy that offers the cover you need over the term you want.

How to apply

Once you find insurers that offer the cover you need, contact them to get a quote. Depending on the insurer, you could get a quote:

  • Online, by completing a form on the insurer's website

  • Over the phone, by speaking to the insurer's critical illness cover specialist

  • In person, by speaking with a financial adviser or specialist at the insurer's local branch

Alternatively, you could give your details to a specialist broker who will attempt to find the best policy for you.

How to get the best price

To find the cheapest critical illness policy, get several quotes by using this comparison.

Based on the information you give when getting a quote, the insurer will send you:

  • What cover you have chosen

  • How much you will pay each month

  • How long you will pay it for

If you are unsure how much cover you need, or want guidance on the type of policy to apply for, speak to an independent financial adviser.

Critical illness cover FAQs


How old do I need to be to get critical illness cover?


Most insurers offer cover from 16 years old. Each insurer also limits when you can apply, stating a maximum age, for example 59 years old.


Can I get critical illness cover for my family?


Most insurers offer joint policies for you and your partner, and some offer additional benefits that cover your children. Check each policy to find out.


Can I get cover if I already have a medical condition?


This depends on the condition you have. Speak to each insurer to see if they can offer you cover with the exception of your condition.


Is critical illness cover the same as life insurance?


No, it only pays out when you are diagnosed with a condition in your policy, unlike life insurance which only pays out when you die.


Can I get cover for a hereditary condition?


This depends on the insurer, some may offer you cover with an increased premium, while others may not offer you cover for the specific condition.

About our critical illness cover comparison


Who do we include in this comparison?


We include critical illness cover available from our panel of insurers. They are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Here is more information about how our website works.


How do we make money from our comparison?


We have commercial agreements with some of the companies in this comparison and get paid commission if we help you take out one of their products or services. Find out more here.

You do not pay any extra and the deal you get is not affected.