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What is critical illness insurance?

Critical illness insurance can help you rest easy, knowing that you'll be covered in the event of a serious diagnosis.

Critical illness insurance pays you a lump sum if you suffer a stroke or heart attack, or if you’re diagnosed with a specified illness. You could use the proceeds of a successful claim to help you continue to manage your finances, including paying off your mortgage, for example.

Having a critical illness policy won’t stop you getting ill, but it can help you and your family cope financially at a very difficult time. 

But before taking out a new policy, you need to make sure you need it.

Is critical illness insurance right for you?

Critical illness insurance could be particularly important if you have family who rely on you financially.

It’s designed to be a living benefit to get you back on your feet again. Because a diagnosis doesn’t just affect your health, it can come with a hefty price tag, too.

It’s not just time off work, other potential costs may include childcare during treatment, adaptations to your home, heating bills while you recover and numerous hospital trips.

What illnesses are covered by critical illness insurance?

Critical illness insurance covers a range of conditions, such as:

  • terminal illness
  • cancer, excluding less advanced cases
  • heart attack
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • stroke
  • dementia or Alzheimers

Check if you already have critical illness cover

You need to feel confident that you wouldn't be paying for something you didn't need. Here are some things to consider:

  1. If employed, you may already have an employee benefit that would cover you if you were unable to work because of a serious illness or disability.
  2. You may have a form of critical illness insurance as part of an existing policy, such as life insurance.
  3. Sometimes your mortgage insurance also covers you for critical illness.
  4. In some cases, you may feel you have enough savings to cover any loss of earnings instead of insurance.

If none of these applies to you, then critical illness insurance could be worth looking into.

What affects the cost of critical illness insurance?

Certain factors can affect the cost of a critical illness policy, including: 

  • your age when you take out the policy – the younger you are, the cheaper your quote will be, as the risk of getting ill increases with age
  • your health – if you’re in good health, this can reduce the cost
  • your lifestyle – heavy smokers, for example, may pay more than non-smokers
  • your occupation – insurers may consider some jobs to be higher risk than others, which can increase the cost
  • the amount of cover you need and how long you need the cover for

How much critical illness insurance do you need?

The amount of critical illness insurance you take out is a personal choice and depends on your situation. 

You may want to start by working out how much you’d need to cover your monthly outgoings if you were unable to work for a period of time. 

Your outgoings may include:

  • your rent or mortgage
  • other debt payments
  • childcare
  • food and household bills
  • possible medical expenses

Once you’ve added it all up, it’s worth considering any savings, investments or other forms of income you could potentially use – to give you a rough estimate of how much you’ll need. 

If you’re unsure about how much critical illness cover you need, you can talk to one of our protection advisers. They’ll spend time getting to know your situation then recommend a competitive policy that's right for you from our hand-picked list of providers.

Check what exclusions there are

Not every type of illness is covered by critical illness insurance policies, so it’s important to check the small print to find out what is and isn’t included before you sign up.

Some types of cancer are also likely to be excluded, at least in their early stages. Certain illnesses, which you or your family have had before, may not be covered either.

You must be honest about the medical history of you and your family. If you miss out any important details, your insurer might refuse to pay out if you try to make a claim.

What critical illness cover do we offer?

You can take out Critical Illness Cover as an add-on when you apply online for HSBC Life Cover, or as a standalone policy through one of our advisers. 

To apply online, you'll need to be registered for online banking. You also need to be a UK resident aged 17 and over, and under 70, at the time the policy starts.

If you'd like to buy a standalone critical illness policy without life cover, our protection advice service is available to help you find the policy that’s right for you. Our protection advice service is available at no extra cost to HSBC customers who are UK residents aged 18 and over.

As with all insurance policies, terms and conditions, exclusions, and limitations apply. Please refer to your policy for more details.

HSBC Life Cover and Critical Illness Cover is provided by HSBC Life (UK) Limited.