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Critical illness

A critical illness plan pays out a lump sum if you are diagnosed with any of the policy's specified critical illnesses, but survive for a period of time after diagnosis (normally 28 days). The lump sum you get could be used to pay for things like nursing care, home-help or adapting your house to accommodate a disability.

It could also pay off your mortgage or pay for a holiday to help you recover from treatment.
Critical illnesses usually include types of cancer, heart attacks, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, major organ transplant and strokes. These are known as 'core conditions' and are the most common illnesses people claim for.

The breadth of conditions covered varies hugely between the companies that offer the cover. The details of what will and will not be covered are fully explained in the policy papers, which you must check fully to ensure that everything meets your needs.

Permanent, total disability is usually included in the contract. Some insurers define permanent total disability as being, “unable to work as you normally would as a result of sickness”, whilst others see it as being “unable to independently perform three or more ‘activities of daily living' as a result of sickness or accident”. Activities of daily living are simple tasks that are performed on a day-to-say basis that you are expected to be able to perform with ease.

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