A critical illness policy only provides protection for specific listed diseases.

  • Some policies only cover cancer
  • Some only cover female cancer
  • Some also cover total and permanent disability
  • Some also cover a wider range of disabilities

Amount of critical illness cover

The policy covers a set sum, which you choose. Some policies have minimum and maximum limits. Cover is often between £100,000 and £250,000. The sum you choose may have to last you 10 or 20 years, so too low a figure may not be enough. If you choose a Life policy with Critical Illness, the critical illness amount may be limited to the full amount of, or a fraction of, the life sum assured.

  • Some policies allow you to increase the sum assured during the life of the policy.

  • Some policies include, or offer as an option, the ability to increase the sum insured at each renewal, in line with inflation.

  • Some policies may reduce the sum assured during the life of the policy, particularly if it is linked to a mortgage where the amount you owe the mortgage provider reduces over the years.

Policies, which include cover for children, will have a lower sum insured on children, often based on a proportion of the adult sum insured.

How long will cover last?

Some policies (often called term-assurance) are limited to a specific number of years. This period may be renewable after the first period, which can be one or five years. Some policies (often called whole-of-life based) continue as long as premiums are paid.

There may be restrictions on how long you can continue cover; e.g. retirement or reaching the age of 65, whichever happens first. There may be an overall limit on how long the policy can last, before a new one has to be taken out e.g.25 years.

Illnesses/conditions covered

There is no such thing as a standard Critical Illness Policy. Every insurer has their own variation. This is an area which changes quite regularly as insurers seek to keep up to date. A list of diseases may look simple, but in practice is only a guideline. Deciding what is or is not the cause of an illness, and whether or not it fits into a particular listed disease, is often a cause for debate, discussion, medical opinions and analysis.

You can compare what is offered by different companies by looking at their “key features documents”. This is a document provided by most insurers outlining what diseases are covered and which are excluded.


Any condition or illness not specifically listed. The list varies by insurer but usually includes;

  • Alcohol or drug abuse;
  • Criminal acts;
  • Flying (except as a passenger in a commercially licensed aircraft);
  • Hazardous sports and pastimes;
  • HIV/AIDS (except where specifically listed as a covered condition, for example if contracted from a UK blood transfusion);
  • Living abroad;
  • Self-inflicted injury;
  • Unreasonable failure to follow medical advice;
  • War and civil commotion.


Latest news

Ewen Griffiths in the spotlight

Covid 19 services at The London General Practice

Andrew Goldberg was featured on Radio 4's 'Inside Health'.

FREE Guide
FREE Guide

Critical illness insurance guides

  • What is covered
  • What does it cost
  • Types of cover

Find a plan...

...within: miles