Critical Illness Why it is important and how do you choose the right provider?

Critical Illness forms a very important part of any protection planning solution but I find many clients simply do not have this in place or are unaware of the conditions their policy covers them for. The Critical Illness market has evolved over the last few years and, definitions of illnesses covered have been made much clearer whilst the conditions covered have improved generally.  

However, it is extremely important that any existing cover you have in place is assessed fully before any changes are made as you may end up losing valuable medical condition covers that are no longer available with new policies. It may be possible to reduce your existing monthly premium for example if you were previously a smoker and have been a non- smoker for at least 12 months.

Critical illness cover is very important as it provides you with protection in the event of diagnosis of a serious illness which typically include heart attacks, cancers or, a stroke which are the three most common conditions claimed for.

Cover can be provided from age 18 up to age 75 typically, although all providers have their own specific rules so seeking financial planning advice is always recommended. Critical Illness cover can be used by individuals to protect themselves, their family, their mortgage or, indeed, a business owner wanting to ensure continuity of their company if they were affected with one of the conditions covered and needed time to recuperate. The key is to seek advice early, as the younger you apply for this cover the cheaper it will be and, the premium can then be guaranteed for the term of the policy. The good news is that most Critical Illness plans also include life assurance to the same value and, so provide protection on death and or, earlier diagnosis of a terminal illness that would result in their death within, typically, 12 months. The cover can also be written on joint lives for example to cover a mortgage which can assist in keeping the cost down.

Any application will be assessed for pre-existing health conditions which can be a complicated process. I work closely with the providers which means I can obtain decisions in principle for our clients thereby helping them to understand the likely outcomes.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) sets a standard definition of each condition in their statement of best practice for Critical Illness Cover. The plans we recommend follow the ABI guidelines and, in many instances exceed their standard conditions covered.

Cancer is never a pleasant conversation piece, almost certainly we know someone who has been diagnosed with some form of cancer. However, as it’s going to affect at least 1 in 2 of us during our lifetime, it’s vital this subject is discussed more openly.


  • There are around 363,000 new cancer cases in the UK every year, that’s more than 990 every day (2014-2016).
  • In females in the UK, there were around 178,000 new cancer cases in 2016.
  • In males in the UK, there were around 185,000 new cancer cases in 2016.
  • Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer.
  • Breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancers together accounted for over half (53%) of all new cancer cases in the UK in 2016.


Though there are more than 200 types of cancer, just these four types – breast, prostate, lung and bowel – together account for more than half (53%) of all new cases in the UK (2014). The two most common cancer types occur mainly or exclusively in only one sex. Cancer represents 65% of all critical illness claims.


This comment is based on personal opinion and does not constitute medical advice or treatment of the conditions above. Professional advice is necessary in every case.


John Merrifield.

Dip PFS, Cert (CII) MP.