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Martin Lewis Critical Illness Cover

There are loads of useful insights and personal finance tips to read about on MoneySavingExpert.com, including Martin Lewis critical illness cover guidance. A critical illness cover policy pays out a lump sum if you become seriously ill or if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness.

We are big fans of the personal finance information and guides provided by Martin Lewis and his team. It’s important to remember that this guidance is not advice and that you should make sure that you get proper advice from a qualified critical illness cover specialist if you need to.

In this section we will review the information that is provided on the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide. We want to make sure that you have all of the information that you need to be able to make an informed decision about which critical illness cover policy and provider is best to protect you and your family.

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60-Second Summary – Martin Lewis Critical Illness Cover Guide

When reading any of the guidance that is provided by Martin Lewis and his team about critical illness cover and other protection policies, it helps to provide some simple steps to follow to get the best policies and the cheapest cover.

  1. Make sure that you read all of your policy wording carefully to check for exclusions, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
  2. Always choose the amount of cover that you need for the policy to pay out and how long you want the cover to last for, within your budget.
  3. Check to make sure that you don’t have cover elsewhere through an employer or with your partner.
  4. It is also worth considering an income protection insurance policy either as well as or instead of critical illness cover.
  5. Avoid buying a critical illness cover policy with your bank or direct with an insurer, ideally look for advice from a broker or critical illness cover specialist.

Most of us are familiar with the money saving tips provided by Martin Lewis and his team at MoneySavingExpert.com. Martin Lewis himself is one of the most well-known and highly regarded financial journalists in the UK, also known for his numerous campaigns and government lobbies for consumer rights.

It is also likely that you will have seen Martin Lewis on his various TV appearances with interviews on This Morning and Good Morning Britain. You may also be familiar with his own weekly finance programme on ITV called The Martin Lewis Money Show, with his co-host Angellica Bell.

MoneySavingExpert.com is the most popular and most visited consumer websites with millions of unique visitors every month. This website was created in 2003 for a sum of £100 which seems incredible in today’s economy.

You can also get information about various other personal financial products on MoneySavingExpert.com, such as:

A list displaying the services available on MoneySavingExpert.com

It is also possible to subscribe and receive a free weekly email newsletter which includes finance tips, weekly shopping deals and the latest financial news.

MoneySavingExpert.com also has a forum where you can subscribe to view topics from other forum members and post about your own personal finance issues.

Martin Lewis doesn’t actually say much about critical illness insurance cover itself, but there are various comments from his team on MoneySavingExpert.com. We can’t find any footage or content where Martin Lewis specifically talks about these policies apart from what we’ve found below.

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

When you read the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guidance on MoneySavingExpert.com, you’ll probably read that “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 is important for some consumers more than others, and how it might be right for some and not for others.

The comments also don’t mean that Martin Lewis doesn’t recommend critical illness cover, they simply seem to be pointing out that you should be fully aware of what is and isn’t covered. You can also see that Martin Lewis does not specifically recommend critical illness cover, but then again it doesn’t say that this it’s bad insurance policy or investment.

Most of the information and guidance on Martin Lewis critical illness cover suggests that you need to decide whether this is the right cover for you. Critical illness cover won’t pay out for every illness and it does not replace your income if you can’t work, that is an income protection insurance policy.

Income protection insurance is designed to pay out a regular income if you are unable to work due to illness or injury. While it is similar to critical illness cover in some ways, it is not the same policy and there are key differences.

Critical illness cover (or critical illness insurance) is a personal protection insurance policy that pays out as lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness, which is covered under the plan. Any pay out from a critical illness cover policy should be tax free and should be paid out to support you financially while you recover from your condition or illness.

Common medical conditions paid out for by most critical illness cover policies include cancer, heart attack and stroke.

As it also suggests on the Martin Lewis critical illness cover page, these policies are generally alongside or included with life insurance. It does say on MoneySavingExpert.com that they’re usually ‘tied’ to life insurance which often isn’t the case, as most of these policies are part of the life cover rather than with them or tied to them.

Critical illness cover can be used for several reasons, such as:

  • Repay your mortgage or to continue mortgage payments
  • Pay your monthly rent (long term or short term)
  • Continue repayments or settle credit commitments
  • Monthly household bills (e.g. utilities, insurances, shopping etc.)
  • School fees

It’s up to you how you use your critical illness cover payout and how much cover you need for your own financial needs or circumstances.

You can have ‘standalone critical illness cover’ which has become more popular in recent years as consumer demand more flexibility and options.

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As it suggests on the critical illness guide on MoneySavingExpert.com, you don’t need this type of cover and you need to decide if you think it’s good value or not. One thing to add here is that most people who take out critical illness cover a) Can afford to pay the monthly premiums, and b) Believe that the cover is worth the money.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you think you need critical illness cover and can you afford it. Lots of people take out these policies because of a personal experience or something that may have happened to a relative or friend.

Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide suggests:

1) You may already have cover

You may already have cover through a spouse or civil partners employer, and you could have critical illness cover through your own employer. It is unfortunately unlikely that you would have a proper critical illness policy through yours or your partners employer as an employee benefit.

You can always ask to double check if this is the case but don’t be surprised if you’re not covered through an employer. It is more likely that you might have a health insurance or life insurance (death in service) benefit from an employer.

There are also some risks with only relying on employee cover as this is not specifically designed to replace your own cover, so you should always consider personal cover arranged by yourself. For example, if you change employment then you might lose these benefits and you might not be able to get them in the future, and these benefits aren’t usually enough to give you full coverage.

2) Do you need critical illness cover if you don’t work?

There are definitely some situations where you might not need critical illness cover, such as for those who don’t work or who have a partner that is the main breadwinner in the household.

If your partner earns enough to be able to support the household if you were seriously ill, then you might not need critical illness cover as much as others. However, consider whether your partner would be able to continue to work full time if you’re seriously ill and would they need to care for your dependents.

Martin Lewis critical illness cover also suggests that you may be entitled to claim state benefits (e.g. statutory sick pay), which can pay up to £160/week. Obviously, this isn’t usually enough to support most households and this is why people tend to look at critical illness cover.

3) You might also want to consider income protection insurance instead

Lots of people are also now considering other types of cover such as income protection, which replaces lost earnings when you can’t work due to sickness or injury.

These policies are a slightly different type of cover because they replace an income for a period of time (up to 2 years usually), rather than paying out a lump sum. As Martin Lewis suggests, you should get proper advice from a qualified protection specialist to help you make the right choice.

There are several common myths about critical illness cover and several key things the consumers regularly misunderstand about these policies.

Common myths about critical illness cover include:

1) Critical illness cover won’t pay out

Generally, the pay-out rates on critical illness cover are well over 90% of all claims that are made, it is also one of the highest payout rates of all types of general insurance and non-investment insurance products.

2) Critical illness cover is too expensive

Premiums for critical illness cover are often far cheaper than people think, but it is true that it costs more than life insurance. Some things to remember here is that you can adjust the level of cover and term to suit your budget (some cover is better than none), and premiums are always cheaper for younger people (take it out as soon as you can).

3) Critical illness cover excludes pre-existing medical conditions

While it is possible that some critical illness cover policies will exclude certain pre-existing medical conditions (especially serious medical conditions), you can shop around to look for other better options. If you’ve got a pre-existing condition and you need critical illness cover then you should speak to a medical expert to get proper specialist advice. This can help you to save time, money and to get the right cover.

4) Critical illness cover pays out to replace my income if I can’t work

One of the common issues is where people get critical illness cover and income protection insurance mixed up, or they think that critical illness cover does both. Unfortunately, if you want to be protected fully for serious illness or if you can’t work due to sickness then you’ll need both types of cover.

5) Critical illness cover can only be taken with life insurance

Some older and more traditional critical illness cover policies could only be taken out with a life insurance policy as an additional benefit. Modern day critical illness cover is far more flexible and also does not attract Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) which was also an issue with older policies. You can now have ‘standalone critical illness cover’ or you can have a different amount of life insurance to critical illness cover within the same plan (called ‘split sum assured’).

It does say on MoneySavingExpert.com that lots of people think that a critical illness policy will pay out for anything, which we don’t necessarily agree with. Most consumers are pretty savvy and would understand that these policies won’t pay out for ANY serious illness.

Another suggestion on Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide is that the definition ‘critical illness’ can be a minefield because of how different the products are between different insurers. When you consider that the majority of claims are for cancer, then this really is the ‘critical’ bit and all policies cover the majority of cancer definitions.

What’s usually covered with critical illness cover?

Here’s a list of common inclusions from the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide and a few of the other standard options that we know of.

Other standard critical illnesses covered:

One of the main reasons why people refer to MoneySavingExpert.com is for advice about the potential issues with certain financial products. With this in mind, the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide explains about common exclusions and potential issues with these policies.

All critical illness cover policies come with a list of serious illnesses that are covered within the policy terms, as well as certain exclusions that may apply. It is always advisable to seek advice from a critical illness cover expert to help you to understand these terms and conditions fully, or make sure that you read your documentation properly.

As it explains on the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide, there are some standard exclusions to be aware of, but also these don’t apply in all cases.

Some critical illness cover policies will only pay out on the highest levels of severity of certain serious illnesses. There are also other severity based critical illness cover policies which pay out different levels of benefits based on the severity of your condition or symptoms. Often, severity based critical illness cover offers a much bigger list of serious illnesses than standard critical illness cover.

It also suggests on the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide that some insurers can withdraw cover for some conditions as you reach a specific age. This is extremely rare and only in the cases of policies that exceed standard age limits (e.g. Age 70). Generally, most critical illness cover policies will include all conditions up to the end of the policy term.

Other common critical illness cover exclusions:

  • Injury or illness as a result of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Certain pre-existing medical conditions (as specified by each insurer)
  • Injury or illness resulting from extreme or dangerous sports (as specified by each insurer)

Some of the other points to clarify from the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide are:

  • Time limits (90 days from start date): MoneySavingExpert.com also suggests that claims made within 90 days of the policy start date would be rejected. This is in fact not a common exclusion and most policies will provide full cover from Day 1 and will not exclude any conditions that are not pre-existing. Obviously, you need to be honest about any existing health or medical issues to ensure that claims are paid out and avoid any potential questions.
  • Extreme or dangerous sports: this is also not necessarily true and you will be asked about whether you take part in certain sports or activities on your critical illness cover application (e.g. motor sports, mountaineering, diving, base jumping etc.). Most extreme and dangerous sports can be covered as long as you are not paid as a professional athlete or semi-professional. 99% of us normal folk can get cover for the type of typical activities that we take part in (e.g. winter sports, mountain biking, climbing, scuba diving etc.).
  • Death within a month of diagnosis: this only really applies to a standalone critical illness cover policy as most would have life insurance attached and pay out on death anyway. If you don’t have life insurance with your critical illness cover policy, then your claim may not be paid out if you die almost immediately after you have been diagnosed.
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Another great thing about some of the content on ManeySavingExpert.com is the quick need-to-know and FAQ guides.

We wanted to explain a bit more detail about the Martin Lewis critical illness cover FAQs on his MSE guide. There are a couple of points that need to be properly explained and just a bit more detail that we want to add.

Q. Can I get critical illness cover for a pre-existing medical condition?

A. The explanation provided on the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide is very black and white, these rules don’t apply to every medical condition in every situation. It should be explained that there are literally thousands of variables and everyone’s situation is very different. Critical illness cover can provide protection for and with pre-existing medical conditions, depending on your medical history and severity of your symptoms.

You should ideally get proper advice from a medical life insurance specialist in this situation to have the best chance of getting proper cover and save money. Each insurance provider has its own underwriting criteria and attitude to risk for pre-existing medical conditions, so you shouldn’t always accept the first answer.

Q. How many critical illnesses are covered?

A. As it suggests on the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide, each insurer is different and this will depend on which policy you choose. It also says on MoneySavingExpert.com that’s insurers will usually cover between 20 and 60 critical illnesses, but this is more likely to be between 40 and 70. Most of the standard traditional High Street critical illness cover policies will be around 50 different illnesses.

It also says on the Martin Lewis critical illness guide that you can only claim once and then the policy will end. This is not necessarily true as some policies will allow you to claim multiple times, especially severity based critical illness cover policies.

As you can probably see from the wording on MoneySavingExpert.com, critical illness cover can be quite complicated and confusing, especially when it comes to different illnesses on payouts. Ideally, you should get proper advice from a qualified critical illness cover specialist who can guide you towards the best policies.

Q. Can I change the amount of critical illness cover I have during the policy?

A. Suggests on the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide that only some insurers will let you increase the level of coverage during the policy term, when in reality almost all will allow you to do this. The majority of insurers offer a plan option called ‘guaranteed insurability’ which is the ability to increase the level of cover to a certain limit or percentage.

Your premiums will increase in this instance to reflect the higher level of cover being offered. However, usually most insurers would not require any additional underwriting for increasing the cover amount under guaranteed insurability.

Q. Can I get children's critical illness cover?

A. Most critical illness cover policies and some life insurance policies will now allow you to add children’s critical illness cover. This will usually cover your children for serious illness and child related illnesses up to the age of 16, or 21 if they’re in full-time education.

Most of these policies will have a maximum amount of cover that they will allow, which is usually 25% of your own critical illness cover amount. Each insurer has their own limits, so you should check to find out which offer the best children’s critical illness cover benefits.

Q. How does life and critical illness cover work?

A. The most common way for people to take critical illness cover is combined with a life insurance policy. Usually, policy holders will have a life and critical illness cover plan that covers for death or earlier serious illness.

As it also suggests on the Martin Lewis critical illness cover guide, there are generally 2 main options for this which are ‘combined’ or ‘additional’ benefits.

Combined critical illness cover is where the life and critical illness cover elements are covered under one plan, on the policy will pay out once for whichever happens first. This is generally the most common option that insurance providers offer and usually the cheapest, mainly because of the single payout limit.

Additional critical illness cover is offered by a selection group of life insurance providers, which covers death and serious illness and two separate parts. This type of cover is generally slightly more expensive because it can pay out more than once. Also, if you die then you would lose the critical illness cover element of the policy.

If you are unhappy with something about your critical illness cover policy or your insurer then you can follow a standard complaints procedure. In the first instant you should complain to your insurance broker or insurance provider, and then you can escalate your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if you are still unhappy with the outcome.

All critical illness cover policies are regulated and governed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which means that you’re automatically protected by these regulations.

Common critical illness cover complaints:

  • Declined or refused claims
  • Unclear policy terms and conditions
  • Poor customer service
  • Bad advice

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Making a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is an impartial and free service for financial services customers in the UK. This service can be used to settle any disputes between life insurance companies and their customers in the United Kingdom. If they feel that you have suffered any financial loss as a result of your life insurance policy, then they may rule for compensation to be awarded.

Telephone – 0800 023 4567 (or 0300 123 9123)

Telephone (outside the UK) – 0207 964 0500


You can only also use an online tool called Resolver which is a free website for consumers to help them to make complaints about financial services products.

Critical illness cover premiums can vary dramatically from one insurer to another and can depend on where you buy your policy from. There are a number of simple steps that you can follow to help you to save time and money on your critical illness cover premiums.

Martin Lewis critical illness cover warning: Generally, life insurance and critical owners cover premiums are higher if you buy them through your bank or direct with the insurers. Some online price comparison tools are also more expensive for these types of insurance policies.

The best and cheapest way to buy critical illness cover policy is to get proper advice from a life insurance specialist. A broker should have access to all of the top critical illness cover insurance providers and be able to compare quotes for you to find the best cover and the lowest premiums.

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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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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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