What does critical illness cover include?

Critical illness cover includes a wide range of illnesses. What you’re covered for will vary between providers.

Typically it includes heart attack, stroke and some forms of cancer but cover can be more or less comprehensive depending on how much you pay and who you secure cover with.

To find out the full list of what you’re covered for you should contact your insurer or refer to the terms and conditions of your policy.

At Reassured we can arrange critical illness cover with a number of providers and can work with you to find one that protects against all the potential illnesses you require.

Get in touch with a member of our award-winning team to secure a solution that best meets your needs.

Keep reading to find out what illnesses you’ll be covered for when taking out critical illness cover...

What are the 30 critical illnesses?

See below the 30 conditions commonly covered by critical illness protection.

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Coronary artery by-pass surgery
  • Heart valve surgery
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Kidney failure
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Severe dementia
  • Liver failure
  • Lung disease
  • Motor neurone disease
  • HIV
  • Coma
  • Loss of limbs
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Major burns
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Viral encephalitis
  • Benign brain tumour
  • Aplastic anaemia
  • Fulminant hepatitis
  • Surgery to aorta
  • Major organ/bone marrow transplant
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Angioplasty
  • Primary pulmonary hypertension
  • Loss of speech
  • Muscular dystrophy

Regarding life insurance, a critical illness refers to a life-changing, but not terminal, illness that can leave you unable to work.

These mostly include but aren’t limited to, the conditions listed above.

When diagnosed with a serious illness you may need to:

  • Make adpations to your home
  • Pay for a carer
  • Pay for private medical treatment

A critical illness pay out can provide the funds to cover these expenses, as well as covering your lost income.

The most common illnesses covered by critical illness cover include:


A stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, causing serious damage.

There are more than 100,000 strokes each year in the UK, (roughly one stroke every 5 minutes)[1].

This highlights the need to have protection in place to cover any lost income if you’re left unable to work.

Heart attack

In the UK more than 100,000 hospital admissions per year are due to heart attack[2].

Following a heart attack, you may need a period of cardiac rehabilitation which could require you to take time off of work.

A critical illness pay out could help to cover your family’s living costs during this time.


In 2018 there were 385,000 cases of cancer in the UK.

Statistics show that 50% of cancer patients survive the disease for 10 years or more.

During this time, you may need to take time off of work and pay for private medical treatment – a pay out from critical illness cover could help fund this[3].

It’s important to be aware that each insurer will have a different list of illnesses covered under their critical illness cover.

Each insurer will also have different definitions of each illness so you need to be aware of exactly what you’re covered for.

It’s important to shop around to find the most comprehensive cover, for a price that’s right for you.

At Reassured we can compare quotes from the UK’s leading providers to help you find the right cover for you.

Is heart attack covered by critical illness cover?

Yes, as stated above, a heart attack is one of the most common illnesses covered by critical illness cover.

In order for a claim to be accepted, and a pay out to be made, the heart attack must be of a certain severity and there must be evidence of acute myocardial infarction.

Does critical illness cover cancer?

Yes, critical illness cover includes some forms of cancer.

If you’re diagnosed with cancer after taking out a policy, you could be eligible to receive a pay out.

You’ll need to check your policy to see which types of cancer are specified as this will vary between insurers.

Typically, critical illness cover will cover cancer that has been diagnosed as being malignant, (this often includes Leukaemia and lymphoma, as well as some tumours).

Cancers that are in the early stages (or are less advanced) tend to not be covered within critical illness.

However, if you’ve previously been diagnosed with cancer, it’s likely an exclusion for cancer will be written into your policy.

This means if you’re diagnosed with cancer during the term, you won’t be able to make a claim.

Critical illness cover also won’t pay out if you’re diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 12 months or less to live.

In this instance, a terminal illness cover claim can be made, which will provide you with an early pay out from your life insurance policy, if you have combined critical illness and life insurance cover. If you have standalone critical illness cover you won't be able to make a claim for this.

(If you’ve already made a critical illness claim you won’t be able to make a terminal illness claim).

Does critical illness cover MS?

Yes, Multiple Sclerosis (or MS) is one of the common illnesses covered under critical illness cover.

If you’re diagnosed with MS during the term of your policy, it’s likely you’ll receive a pay out.

As with all illnesses, you’ll need to check the definition listed in the policy to make sure your condition matches for your claim to be accepted.

If you’ve been diagnosed with MS before taking out a policy, it won’t be covered. This is due to the condition being pre-existing.

Does critical illness cover kidney disease?

Yes, end stage kidney disease or kidney failure that will require on-going dialysis is often covered within critical illness cover.

As long as your condition isn’t pre-existing and it matches the definition outlined in your policy, you’ll be eligible to make a claim.

Is epilepsy a critical illness?

No, epilepsy isn’t considered a critical illness in terms of life insurance.

Therefore, you won’t be able to make a claim for this if you’re diagnosed during your policy.

We have written a dedicated epilepsy life insurance article if you require additional information »

Is cardiomyopathy a critical illness?

Yes, cardiomyopathy is often on the list of illnesses covered by critical illness cover.

This means if you’re diagnosed with the condition during the term of your policy, and it meets the specified severity, you’ll be able to make a claim.

However, if you’ve declared any previous heart problems on your application, there may be an exclusion for this (and other heart conditions) written into your policy as the likelihood of you developing the condition is greater.

Is Crohn’s disease a critical illness?

Yes, some providers include Crohn’s disease in their critical illness cover.

Your condition will need to meet their definition and, often, will need to be of a certain severity for you to be able to make a claim.

If you’re suffering from Crohn’s disease at the time of application, you won’t be able to make a claim for it on your critical illness cover due to it being a pre-existing condition.

Is diabetes a critical illness?

No, diabetes isn’t considered a critical illness. Therefore, you won’t be able to make a claim for this condition.

In the case of type 1 diabetes, this is often a condition that you’re born with and would be considered a pre-existing condition at the point of application.

In the case of type 2 diabetes, the condition often linked to obesity and poor health/diet. With good management of the condition, it can have minimal impact on your day to day life.

With medical advancements, both types of diabetes can be easily regulated with medication and therefore, the condition isn’t considered to be a critical illness.

Does critical illness cover appendicitis?

It’s unlikely that critical illness cover will include appendicitis.

While appendicitis can often result in hospitalisation and surgery to remove the inflamed appendix, the condition isn’t seen as life-changing.

Recovery is often quick and you won’t be left unable to work for prolonged periods of time.

The definition of critical illness is a life-changing illness, hence why this condition won’t be covered.

Does critical illness cover death?

No, unlike life insurance, critical illness cover won’t make a pay out upon your passing.

Instead, if you’ve taken out combined critical illness and life insurance, your loved ones can make a claim on your life insurance.

Will critical illness cover my children?

Luckily, most critical illness policies will allow you to make a claim if your child is diagnosed with a serious illness listed in the policy.

Typically, children will be covered under their parent's policy until the age of 18/21 and the pay out amount will usually be up to 50% of the parent's sum assured, or up to £25,000.

The money paid out can be used to help pay for any private medical treatment or used to replace lost income if you need to take time off of work.

Please note, the amount of cover offered to children will vary between insurers and some may charge a premium.

When can I make a critical illness claim?

You can make a claim on your critical illness cover if you’re diagnosed with one of the illnesses listed in your policy.

If your condition matches the insurer's definition and your premium payments are up to date, you’ll be able to make a claim and receive a pay out.

In order to do this, you’ll need to contact your provider and provide evidence of the illness which has taken place.

When critical illness won’t pay out

There are some instances when a critical illness cover won't pay out. These include:


If you have a pre-existing medical condition and you declare this during the application, it’s likely the insurer will write an exclusion for the illness into your policy.

For example, if you’ve previously had cancer, an exclusion for cancer will be written into your policy – meaning if you become ill with cancer again, you won’t be able to make a claim.

Equally, if you suffer from a pre-existing medical condition you may have exclusions written into your policy which will prevent you from making a claim due to related illnesses, i.e. diabetes type 1 sufferers may have an exclusion for high blood pressure or heart attack written into their cover.

Non-disclosure of existing illness

If you have a pre-existing medical condition (such as diabetes, cancer, HIV) and you do not declare this on your application it is known as non-disclosure.

This means that if it’s found that you’ve become ill due to your pre-existing condition, the policy will become void and the insurer isn’t obligated to provide the pay out.

Do I need critical illness cover?

Whether you need critical illness cover or not will be completely dependant on your own personal circumstances.

Statistics show that you’re more likely to fall seriously ill than to pass away during your working life.

If you were to fall ill and couldn’t work as a result, could your loved ones afford to:

  • Continue to pay the mortage?
  • Cover family living costs?
  • Pay off large debts?
  • Make adaptions to your home?
  • Pay for carers?

A pay out from critical illness cover could help cover this and alleviate any financial stress at an already stressful time.

We believe that anyone who provides an income for their loved ones would benefit from some form of protection.

At Reassured, our award-winning team can take you through the entire application process and compare quotes to help you find the right cover at the right price.

How much critical illness cover do you need?

Enter your financial commitments to understand the level of cover you require.


£121,687 is the estimated average outstanding mortgage per household in the UK.

Our property is generally the largest financial commitment any of us will make.

Your life insurance should cover this significant debt should you no longer be around.


According to Money Advice Service, full-time childcare in the UK now costs £242 a week.

The loss of a parent could result in the need for additional childcare whilst the surviving parent increases their hours to account for lost income.

Your life insurance cover should factor in this additional required outgoing.


The average level of debt (minus a mortgage) in the UK is £15,385.

Factoring in any outstanding debts in your name when arranging life insurance ensures this burden is not passed to loved ones.


You may wish to leave your loved ones an inheritance or lump sum gift upon your passing.

Factoring in the gift amount when arranging your cover will ensure the pay out amount will be sufficient to provide your loved ones with this selfless gesture.


If you are one of the 65% of the UK who are lucky enough to have savings, this could be used as protection if you were to pass away.

Any pay outs from existing life insurance policies and investments can also be used as financial protection for your loved ones if you were no longer around.

Factor this into your required cover amount.

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Your total cover estimate

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Let us find your best quotes.

Reassured’s Big 3

Reassured offers an exclusive critical illness cover to those who take out a life insurance policy through us, called ‘The Big 3’.

This provides protection from the three most common critical illnesses:

  • Heart attack
  • Cancer
  • Stroke

We use the life insurance underwriting process to provide an immediate decision on your acceptance.

Big 3 also allows you to make a claim for your children.

Should any of your children be diagnosed with one of the critical illnesses defined within the policy, a pay out will be made for the lower of £25,000 or 50% of the Big 3 cover amount.

Compare critical illness cover

Critical illness cover will vary between insurers, as will the price you pay.

It’s best to compare quotes to ensure you’re getting the right cover for the right price.

And the best part is by using our award-winning service, you can compare quotes completely free of charge.

Why not get in touch and get free, no-obligation quotes today?


[1] https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/stroke-statistics

[2] https://www.bhf.org.uk/-/media/files/research/heart-statistics/bhf-cvd-statistics-uk-factsheet.pdf?

[3] https://www.macmillan.org.uk/_images/cancer-statistics-factsheet_tcm9-260514.pdf

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