A very difficult time for your health and your wealth

The diagnosis of a serious illness can mean a very difficult time for your health and your wealth. But critical illness cover can provide vital financial security when you need it most. Most homebuyers purchase life assurance when they arrange a mortgage, but overlook critical illness cover, another form of financial protection that we are statistically more likely to need before reaching retirement.

 

Something critical

Critical illness assurance pays a tax-free lump sum on diagnosis of any one of a list of specified serious illnesses, including cancer and heart attacks. The good news is that medical advances mean more people than ever are surviving life-threatening conditions that might have killed earlier generations. Critical illness cover can provide cash to allow you to pursue a less stressful lifestyle while you recover from illness, or you can use it for any other purpose.

Core specified conditions

All policies should cover seven core specified conditions. These are cancer, coronary artery bypass, heart attack, kidney failure, major organ transplant, multiple sclerosis and stroke. They will also pay out if a policyholder becomes permanently disabled as a result of injury or illness.

But not all conditions are necessarily covered. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) introduced a set of best practice guidelines. In May 2003, the ABI introduced other measures. These included conditions such as non-invasive skin cancers and less advanced cases of prostate cancer. Tumours that have not yet invaded the organ or tissue, and lymphoma or Kaposi’s sarcoma in the presence of HIV are excluded.

There are also more restrictive conditions for heart attacks. There has to be evidence of typical chest pain, or changes in the electrocardiogram (ECG), for example, if a claim is to be successful. Cardiac conditions, such as angina, will not be covered.

Getting it covered

While life assurance is often the priority of those with dependant family members, critical illness cover can be vital if you are the sole breadwinner, rely heavily on your income or are single. It provides a welcome financial boost at a time of emotional stress and financial hardship.

Before you take out critical illness cover, you need to obtain professional financial advice to make sure that it is right for you and offers sufficient cover.