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Martin Lewis Critical Illness Cover

Martin Lewis and MoneySavingExpert.com talks about critical illness insurance with plenty of useful information on this subject. You can read all about the Martin Lewis critical illness insurance guidance to help protect yourself against financial loss if you are diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

Critical illness insurance pays out a cash lump sum if you become seriously ill which would prevent you from working for several months or years.  The number of conditions that are covered on these policies will vary from one insurer to another, so you should check the policy wording carefully to make sure that you’ve got the cover you need.

In this guide, our team of insurance experts looks at the Martin Lewis critical illness insurance guidance on MoneySavingExpert.com. We explain all of the key points in detail and give you some extra useful information from our own experts who have over 30 years of experience and expertise.

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60-Second Summary – Martin Lewis Critical Illness Cover 2024 Guide

Martin Lewis is a trusted and well-known personal finance expert in the UK, mainly because of his consumer website MoneySavingExpert and his television show called the Martin Lewis Money Show. Millions of households now turn to Martin Lewis for advice about personal finances before deciding which is the best option for them.

Here’s a summary of Martin Lewis and MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) critical illness insurance guidance.

  • Critical illness insurance pays out a cash lump sum if you are diagnosed with a serious condition that is covered by your policy (e.g. cancer, heart attack, or stroke). You can buy this cover with life insurance or separately as a standalone policy (with some insurers).
  • Most of the information on MSE is correct, but the guide states that critical illness insurance usually only provides cover to age 75 maximum which isn’t true for all insurers. Many UK insurers will provide cover that lasts until past this age, including insurers like AIG, Aviva, and Royal London.
  • Martin Lewis and MSE state that they aren’t ‘fans’ of critical illness cover, but this isn’t necessarily a recommendation against buying it. You should consider your own situation and how your family would cope financially if you became seriously ill.
  • The main points that are made in the MSE critical illness guide simply suggest that you should have a full understanding of these policies, and that they might not be the right fit for everyone.
  • We agree with the point that is made that states that applying for insurance through banks or with an insurance company directly will often be more expensive.
  • MSE’s user forum also contains several threads where consumers share their experiences and opinions about critical illness insurance.

Martin Lewis hasn’t spoken much about critical illness insurance in his interviews on radio and TV programmes such as ITV’s This Morning. As you can see below, he will usually focus more on topics like life insurance in general, rather than related products like critical illness cover.

Martin Lewis’ Guide to Life Insurance – Different Types | This Morning

There is however extensive guidance about critical illness insurance that is available on his website MoneySavingExpert.com. While Martin Lewis did not write this guide himself, it can be classed as his advice as he runs the website where it is published.

When you read the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guidance on MoneySavingExpert.com, you’ll probably read the following quote:

 “We’re not big fans of critical illness insurance as many believe they will pay out if you get ANY serious illness and can’t work”.

These comments don’t really help to explain why critical illness cover works better for some consumers compared to others.

While it is true that critical illness insurance won’t pay out for every illness, it can provide valuable financial protection for many people. It helps to minimise the financial impact of a serious diagnosis, and some insurers (e.g. Vitality) will cover more than 100 specified medical conditions.

Can you buy Martin Lewis critical illness cover?

Martin Lewis doesn’t sell policies like critical illness insurance, as he is not an insurance broker or employed by an insurance company. Martin Lewis provides his opinions on these policies, but he can’t provide full advice in the way that a qualified broker can.

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While the comments on MoneySavingExpert.com aren’t overly positive, this doesn’t mean that Martin Lewis doesn’t recommend critical illness insurance. He is simply suggesting that it doesn’t work for everyone and that it is important to be aware of the limitations of this type of cover.

At no point does Martin Lewis or MSE suggest that you should not buy critical illness cover or that it isn’t worth it for any person in the UK. Instead, the focus is on the importance of understanding all your options and deciding whether this type of cover is right for you.

Martin Lewis will generally be upfront in his opinions, and so it is likely that he would simply say not to buy critical illness insurance if he felt strongly about this. Martin Lewis suggests he isn’t a ‘big fan’ of these policies, but you should use your own judgement to assess if critical illness insurance is worth it for you.

Some of the main benefits of critical illness cover include:

  • Additional financial support for you and your family if you are diagnosed with a serious medical condition (e.g. stroke, cancer, heart attack)
  • Often includes additional benefits like 24/7 online GP support services.
  • Can usually add your child to your policy, and several insurers provide children’s cover at no extra cost.
  • Available from most of the UK’s top life insurance companies.

Critical Illness Cover provider reviews

Our life insurance experts have carefully reviewed every detail within MoneySavingExpert.com’s critical illness cover guide to check that all the information is up to date and accurate.

Below we explain the points that are made within each section of this guide, and whether the information that is provided is correct.

Number 1

What is critical illness cover?

In this section, MSE provides full details about what critical illness insurance is and what it does. Most of the information about how these policies work is true, and all the following points are correct:

  • Critical illness insurance pays out a tax free lump sum if you are diagnosed with a critical illness. This can be useful in providing extra financial support if you are unable to work due to your condition.
  • Many (but not all) critical illness policies are bought in combination with a life insurance policy. Some policies are available separately from life insurance, but only with certain insurance companies.
  • Critical illness insurance is flexible, as you can choose how much cover you want and how long you will be covered for.
  • Your policy premiums will be based on the answers that you provide about your health and lifestyle when you apply.

One thing to note is that MSE states that critical illness insurance typically only covers you until you reach the age of 75 years old. This isn’t actually true, and most of the UK’s top insurance companies like AIG, Aviva, and LV will cover you until age 80. Certain insurers will cover you past age 80, such as Royal London which can provide cover up until age 84.

Number 2

What conditions are covered? (and exclusions)

MSE lists some of the common conditions which are covered by critical illness insurance, which includes illnesses like cancer, heart attack, and stroke. It also notes that navigating which conditions are covered can be a ‘minefield’, as critical illness definitions can vary a lot between insurers.

While the term ‘minefield’ is a little extreme, we do agree that it can be confusing to compare critical illness policies due to the differences between insurers. You should carefully read your policy terms and conditions to understand exactly what you are covered for, and get proper advice if you are unsure.

MSE also makes a good point when it notes that ‘there are often stipulations where a policy won’t pay out at all’. These are known as policy exclusions and generally, any condition that isn’t listed within your policy documents will not be covered.

Note: If you have pre-existing conditions and don’t declare these when you apply, you risk any critical illness claim that you make being deemed as invalid.

Number 3

Should I get critical illness cover?

The main advice given in this section is that you don’t ‘need’ to have critical illness cover and you need to decide whether the cost is worth it for you. While critical illness insurance may not be considered essential, the pay out from these policies can make a huge difference if you become seriously unwell.

It is also noted that you should check whether you or your partner already have an element of critical illness cover, through an existing life insurance policy or your employer.

Something that we don’t agree with is where it states that if one family member earns enough to support your household, other family members won’t need critical illness cover. This might be true in some cases, but you should consider how expensive it may be if you need to make adaptions to your home for example.

While your partner’s income may cover standard household bills, it might not be enough to cover additional expenses associated with your medical condition if you can’t work.

Number 3

How to save money on critical illness cover

The rest of the MSE critical illness cover guide focuses primarily on the cost of critical illness insurance and the simplest ways to save money on your cover. Here, it is made very clear that you shouldn’t ‘blindly’ trust a policy that is offered to you by your bank or an insurance company as this can be very expensive.

We 100% agree with this statement, and many people are surprised by how much they can save by applying through a broker compared to a bank or insurer. A bank will usually have one preferred insurance company, and an insurer can only advise you about their own products even if other companies are cheaper.

We like MSE’s suggested formula for calculating how much critical illness insurance you might need. It’s important to choose an appropriate amount of cover, so you don’t end up with too little cover or paying for more cover than you realistically need.

MSE suggests looking at your usual monthly outgoings and multiplying this by the length of time that you need the cover for. If you’d rather not work this out yourself, many websites (including ours) have life insurance calculators that can help with sums like this.

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Martin Lewis and MoneySavingExpert.com don’t list the ‘best’ critical illness insurance companies or policies, but they do have a list of ‘advised brokers to try’. It can be helpful to know that you have multiple options, but these insurance brokers won’t necessarily be the right choice for everyone.

MSE even states that these brokers are included due to the cash-back deals that they offer and that you shouldn’t be swayed to choose them just because of this. They also provide a link to the British Insurance Brokers Association or ‘BIBA’, which can help if you are struggling to find a suitable broker.

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What to do if you can’t find life insurance

There are certain options and support mechanisms that are available to you if you’re struggling to find life insurance. One of the bodies to support consumers with life insurance is the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) which covers all insurance services in the United Kingdom.

BIBA provides a Find Insurance service that allows you to search for a recommended member who might be able to help you.

Telephone (Insurance Help)- 0370 950 1790

Telephone (General Enquiries) – 0344 7700 266


Ultimately, you should base whether you buy critical illness cover on whether it seems worth it for you and your family. Though it can be helpful or reassuring to buy policies endorsed by experts like Martin Lewis, it’s best to do your own research and to think about things like:

  • Can you afford to pay for critical illness insurance each month?
  • Have you got savings or other financial support for if you become seriously ill?
  • Would your partner still be able to work if they needed to care for you?
  • Would another policy (e.g. income protection insurance) work better for you?

If you need help with your critical illness insurance policy, you can call our experts for FREE advice on 0800 009 6559 or CLICK HERE.

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Is it worth getting critical illness insurance?

The main benefit of critical illness insurance is that it pays out a lump sum if you become seriously ill to help support you and your family financially. The benefit payment can be used to pay your mortgage, rent, and other regular household bills.

Critical illness claims include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Usually, you would be unable to work for at least several months or even years, if you became seriously ill. Critical illness cover allows you to recover properly without having to worry about your finances and making sure that your family don’t suffer.

What are the 36 critical illnesses?

People looking for critical illness insurance are often concerned about whether it will pay out for all illnesses. Obviously critical illness insurance won’t pay out for absolutely everything, but it is specifically designed to pay out for the most common conditions. There are several key conditions on the list and then 36 main critical illnesses that are usually covered.

The following are widely considered the main 36 critical illnesses:

1. Cancer19. Hepatitis (Fulminant Viral)
2. Heart Attack20. Coronary Artery Disease
3. Stroke21. Encephalitis
4. Kidney Failure22. Head Trauma
5. Multiple Sclerosis23. Medullary Cystic Disease
6. Parkinson’s Disease24. Brain Surgery
7. Alzheimer’s Disease25. Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
8. Brain Tumour (Benign)26. Lung Disease (end-stage)
9. Paralysis (limbs)27. Surgery of the Aorta
10. Muscular Dystrophy28. Terminal Illness
11. Third Degree Burns29. Loss of Independence
12. HIV30. Major Organ Transplant
13. Cardiomyopathy31. Primary Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
14. Loss of Speech32. Severe Coronary Artery Disease
15. Chronic Aplastic Anaemia33. Heart Valve Surgery
16. Blindness (Permanent)34. Angioplasty
17. Bacterial Meningitis35. Coma
18. Liver Failure (end-stage)36. Deafness (Permanent)

Most of the modern critical illness insurance policies will cover somewhere between 40 and 80 different conditions. There are some other policies such as Vitality Serious Illness Cover that offers up to around 180 different conditions.

Is it worth getting critical illness cover?

Critical illness cover is specifically designed to protect you and your family against potentially serious financial difficulty due to diagnosis of a critical condition (e.g. cancer, heart attack, stroke, MS etc.). Everyone is different and your attitude towards the risks of serious illness is entirely up to your own personal preference.

Some consumers feel that life insurance and critical illness cover are absolutely essential because they want to protect their family or property. Usually, this might be based on either personal experience or something that has affected a family member or even a friend.

If you’ve seen the impacts of financial loss through a loved one then you might be more inclined to take out critical illness cover. This type of policy is always cheaper for younger people and for those who are in good health, so it’s advisable to try to get some cover in place sooner than later.

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https://www.iaminsured.co.uk » guides

Is critical illness insurance worth it? - iam|INSURED

How much does critical illness cover cost UK?

The cost of critical illness cover is based on the amount of cover that you want and your individual circumstances (e.g. age, health, smoker status etc.). You will also find that the prices and quality of cover will vary dramatically from one insurance provider to another.

Below we have examples of critical illness cover premiums based on age, to show how much premiums can change if you take a policy out when you’re older.

Critical illness cover - £50,000 over 25 years (non-smoker)

Age  Level term critical illness cover (family protection)Decreasing term critical illness cover (mortgage protection)

As you can see from the table above, the cost of critical illness cover changes as you get older, and it’s often far cheaper than people think.

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Average cost of critical illness cover UK - iam|INSURED

Can I get critical illness cover on its own?

The simple answer is ‘YES’ you can absolutely get critical illness cover on its own, and this is becoming more popular as policies become more flexible. This is also known as ‘standalone critical illness cover’ and basically means that you haven’t got life insurance attached to it.

Standalone critical illness cover will only pay out for serious or critical illnesses and won’t pay out on death. Some common reasons why people opt for taking critical illness cover without life insurance are:

  • Already have life insurance either personally or through work
  • Don’t need life insurance (e.g. no children or dependents)
  • Want to take out extra critical illness cover
  • Personal preference

There are many reasons why you might want standalone critical illness cover and ultimately it’s completely your decision.

What does Martin Lewis say about critical illness cover?

Martin Lewis’s advice for critical illness cover on MoneySavingExpert suggests that they don’t particularly believe in this type of cover. While this might seem reasonable to some consumers, if you accept this advice and then have a serious illness yourself, you might not be quite as grateful for his insight.

We understand that Martin Lewis is entitled to his opinion and you should remember that this is the opinion of a financial journalist and not financial advice. Having personally seen hundreds, if not thousands of claims for critical illness, I find it difficult to understand how this opinion can be so broad.

It is up to you to decide which cover is best for you and for your family, so we strongly suggest that you consider all angles before you make your final decision.

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Martin Lewis Critical Illness Cover - iam|INSURED

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