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The diagnosis of a serious illness or chronic condition in your family can have major implications for everyone. You will face a new routine of hospital appointments and treatment, and you and your loved ones might have to take a lot of time off work and school.
Having the right critical illness insurance in place takes away the financial strain while you adjust to the condition and potentially to a new lifestyle. It enables you to focus on the person with the diagnosis, as well as allowing extra support for your children, whether or not they are the one with the critical illness.
What is critical illness cover?
Critical illness cover is a type of protection insurance that pays out a lump sum if you or a member of your family is diagnosed with a serious condition listed in your policy. Under new Association of British Insurers guidelines, drawn up to protect consumers, critical illness policies must cover heart attack, stroke and some types of cancer, while many will also include illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, as well as permanent disability.
Critical illness insurance can be taken out as a stand-alone policy or as part of a life insurance plan. The sum of money your family will receive on diagnosis is tax free.
Critical illness cover for parents
If you’re a parent, chances are you have financial commitments currently met by your salary. Were you to develop a critical illness, it’s likely that you would have to give up work, at least in the short term.
A critical illness cover payout gives breathing space while your family comes to terms with the diagnosis. It can also help fund any adaptations you may need around your home, such as wheelchair ramps, handrails or mobility aids.
Do I need critical illness cover for my children?
No sum of money can buy back your child’s health, but it’s important to think about how you would manage if he or she was diagnosed with a serious condition.
They might need to spend a long time in hospital or recuperating at home, and you or your partner would need time away from work to care for them. You could incur significant travel costs visiting hospital or attending appointments, and you might even need accommodation for your whole family nearer to the treatment centre.
Your child’s illness could lead to adaptations around your home, as well as private tuition to catch up with school work or additional learning aids. Critical illness cover for children is designed to help with all these things.
As with life insurance, it is very rare that you could take out a critical illness policy in your child’s name. It is far more common for them to be included on your cover; some policies include children automatically while others allow you to add them on.
What does children’s critical illness cover include?
Critical illness cover applies to biological, adopted and step children. The exact cover depends on the policy you take out and whether you choose to add any extra benefits to the standard inclusions.
Critical illness insurance for children often includes childhood cancers, stroke and benign tumours. Depending on your policy, it might also cover permanent disability and terminal illness.
A range of further benefits is available, such as:
- Child accident hospitalisation benefit
- Childcare costs, should you be unable to look after your child for a while
- Family accommodation, should you need to stay near a hospital or treatment centre
- Play therapy
- Practical help around the home
- A dedicated nurse to offer practical and emotional support
- A specialist children’s nurse
The age at which children are covered varies from policy to policy. Some cover applies to children from birth, while other insurers offer cover from 30 days old. The upper age limit can be 21 or 22 and might depend on whether your child is still financially dependent on you.
In 2018, our partner Legal & General paid 96% of all children's critical illness cover claims, with an average payout of £17,838 per family.
What other family insurance do I need?
Family health insurance covers parents and children for tests and treatment following accidents and injuries or for acute medical conditions. Children are often insured up to the age of 18, or beyond if they are in full time education.
If your child needs to go to hospital, our guide can help your family know what to expect and how to make it a smoother experience.
Life insurance for parents can also be invaluable for families, as it reassures you that those you love will be taken care of if you pass away. For more information and to compare life insurance and critical illness cover for your family, use our simple online tool.