Updated: August 21, 2019

Cancer and Critical Illness Insurance

Will critical illness insurance cover cancer? We explore which type of cancers are covered, and how to find the right level of cover for you

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Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston - Mortgage Expert

Updated: August 21, 2019

With over 355,000 new diagnoses of cancer in the UK during 2015, it isn’t surprising to learn that it is the condition most likely to result in a critical illness claim.

For a lot of people, the diagnosis of cancer is a complete shock and unfortunately many lack the financial safety net that critical illness cover can provide.

Those that do have insurance cover can feel prepared and relieved to know that if they are not able to work because of cancer, their mortgage, bills and other expenses could be covered by their insurance.

However, for financial protection and peace of mind, you need to feel confident that your policy will pay out for your type of cancer as not every policy is the same.

To help you find critical illness cover that covers a range of cancers and other illnesses, we’ve created this simple guide.

If you have immediate questions about the type of cover you might be eligible for with critical illness cancer insurance, then feel free to talk to an advisor.

Critical illness protection – does it cover cancer?

Many critical illness insurance policies do cover cancer, however, you may find that some only pay out if your illness closely meets the definition in their policy.

This definition may vary between insurers however cancer is often defined as, “A disease in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues.”

Unfortunately, an insurance company could decide that your particular type of cancer doesn’t quite fit their definition and they may reject your claim.

As well as this, many people with critical illness protection are unaware that their insurer’s list of covered cancers may not include skin cancer or other early-stage cancers.

This can be frustrating for many policyholders who have continuously paid premiums to protect their finances in such an event.

Because of this, it’s important to work with an insurance advisor who can look into the terms and conditions of each policy to establish which one will be able to offer you the most protection and under what circumstances.

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Does critical illness insurance cover breast cancer?

Despite breast cancer being the second most common cause of cancer death for women in the UK, some critical illness policies do not pay out on diagnosis.

This is because early stage breast cancer is not considered life threatening and therefore this usually means that the claimant has an increased chance of survival.

In fact, more often than not, breast cancer claims are met with a partial payment, meaning that unless the cancer is aggressive and invasive, only a fraction of the payout may be released.

For help with finding the best critical illness cover for breast cancer, speak to an advisor who can compare the whole market.

Does critical illness insurance cover prostate cancer?

For UK males, prostate cancer is the most common cancer, with around 47,600 reported cases in 2016.

The good news is that more than 8 in 10 (84%) men diagnosed with prostate cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for ten years or more.

Many critical illness policies do not include cover for prostate cancer unless it has progressed to at least a clinical TNM classification T2N0M0.

A lot of people worry that they won’t be able to find critical illness insurance that covers prostate cancer but depending on the stage, it may be possible.

In fact, some critical illness insurers pay out 25% of your full payout amount if you meet their definitions of prostate cancer.

However, for some people, this is not a suitable amount and so they decide to purchase additional critical illness cover which includes prostate cancer and other low grade cancers within the policy.

Does critical illness insurance cover testicular cancer?

The survival rate of testicular cancer is very high and in 2011, 98% of those diagnosed lived for more than ten years.

Again, because testicular cancer is not always invasive some insurers don’t include it within their list of covered illnesses.

You may be able to find insurance that covers testicular cancer but be aware that you might only be liable for a 25% payout, depending on the stage of your cancer at the time of your claim.

Does critical illness insurance cover skin cancer?

Skin cancer (including cutaneous lymphoma) is not usually included on most insurers’ lists of covered diseases although if your melanoma is malignant and has caused invasion beyond the epidermis (outer layer of skin) you may be liable to make a claim.

Melanoma skin cancer is the 5th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 5% of all new cancer cases in 2016, so it’s not surprising that more and more people are seeking financial protection in the form of critical illness insurance.

To find out which critical illness insurance companies offer cover for skin cancer and under what terms, speak to an insurance advisor.

Can I find critical illness insurance that covers a larger range of cancers?

Not all insurers have a restricted list of covered cancers and there may be a handful of policies that will pay out in the event that you are diagnosed with a lower level cancer such as thyroid or bladder cancer.

It may be the case that these insurers charge higher premiums for a wider range of cover but the advisors we work with can compare numerous quotes and find you the most affordable deal.

Whilst these types of cancers can still be life-threatening and traumatic for many sufferers they thankfully have a high rate of survival and therefore insurance companies are likely to pay out lower payments.

To learn more about which critical illness insurance providers cover cancers including bowel, leukaemia, basal cell carcinoma or benign brain tumours, speak to an advisor.

How to find critical illness insurance that covers cancer

With over 200 types of cancer, it can be tasking to find a critical illness policy that covers all of them.

So, with such a range of variations between insurance plans, how can you be sure that a policy will cover you?

Work with a critical illness insurance expert

If you decide to take out a critical illness policy, you need to thoroughly read the contract and understand the terms you need to meet in order to successfully make a claim.

Contracts can be tedious and without knowledge of typical critical illness insurance contracts, it can be difficult to know which terms are fair or perhaps not so favourable.

An insurance professional can quickly identify any clauses that could prevent you from receiving a payout and can point you in the direction of other insurers who might be able to offer you more assurances.

Talk to an expert to discuss the critical illness insurers that cover cancer.

Check how much your insurer will pay out

This is important as some critical illness insurers won’t make a 100% payment unless the diagnosis is for advanced cancer. To prove that your cancer has progressed and is advanced, you may be asked to provide evidence such as scan results.

Many of the critical illness providers will pay a percentage payment dependent on the severity of the condition, with some only paying 25% of the sum assured. This can be frustrating as many policyholders depend on their payout to cover their expenses which can quickly accumulate because of lack of income, treatment and aftercare.

To prevent this, it can be helpful to calculate the amount of payout you would need to cover your expenses in the event that you are diagnosed with cancer and can no longer work.

Think about how long you could potentially be off work and whether the minimum payout would cover your mortgage, bills and other living expenses.

Check how often they pay out for claims

Once you know how much you would need in the event of a claim, compare insurance companies based on their average payout and their claim statistics. If their data shows that they don’t pay out often for cancer claims, it could be worth looking elsewhere.

Researching payout rates can be time consuming and you might not know where to start.

The assistance of an insurance professional can be really helpful with this as they have access to a database with information on many critical illness insurers.

To save you time, they can compare claim statistics, average payouts and policy prices. Once they have found the best deals and contract conditions, they can recommend the insurers to approach or can then further assist you with your application.

Cancer survivors – can you get critical illness cover after cancer?

If you have previously received a diagnosis for cancer, your choice of insurers can be more limited.

The price you pay for your premiums for post-cancer critical illness cover could also be much higher in comparison to the premiums you might have paid without a cancer diagnosis.

This is because the price that insurers set for their policy holders is largely based on their assessment of whether you’re likely to make a claim or not.

To calculate this, they may look at information about your health, weight, age and medical history.

If you have an increased risk of falling ill, the insurer may conclude that they are more likely to have to pay out.

That being said, it may be possible for you to get critical illness insurance after cancer as not all policies are the same.

To learn more about the options that may be available to you, speak to an advisor.

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If my cancer progresses, can I make a further claim?

If you have already purchased your insurance and have made a claim, it can be helpful to review your policy. This is particularly important for those expecting to receive a further payout because of a progressive diagnosis.

As mentioned previously, not all insurance providers pay the full amount but will make further payments if some particular types of cancer become more aggressive.

Check the terms and conditions of your policy for information on partial payments and seek the advice of an insurance professional.

Talk to an expert an expert about critical illness insurance cover for cancer

Thinking about the possibility of getting cancer and not being able to work isn’t pleasant but safeguarding your finances from such an event can provide peace of mind.

The advisors we work with provide confidential and professional advice and based on your circumstances, they can recommend which insurers are most likely to pay out and under what conditions.

Call us on 0808 189 0463 or fill out an enquiry form to ask us more about critical illness cancer insurance. We also have experts on hand who can provide guidance on how to find critical illness cover post cancer.

Ask a quick question

We can help! We know everyone's circumstances are different, that's why we work with brokers who are experts in critical illness cover. Ask us a question and we'll get the best expert to help.

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Pete Mugleston

Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Expert

About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for OMA of course!

FCA Disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms that are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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