Insurance

13 common serious illness cover questions answered

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Taking out serious illness cover doesn't have to be a daunting experience. To help you, we’ve answered frequently asked questions in relation to the process.

Specified illness cover offers you a financial safety net should you fall ill. However, if you’ve ever gone to take out serious illness cover, you may have been left with an abundance of questions and feeling overwhelmed.

Don’t worry though! Here we’ve outlined the most common questions we get asked about serious illness cover.

1. What is serious illness cover?

Serious illness cover, also known as specified illness cover or critical illness cover, is a type of life insurance that will pay out a tax-free lump sum should you be diagnosed with an illness that is listed and covered by your policy. 

Serious illness cover can be purchased by itself as standalone cover, or combined with another insurance policy, such as life insurance or mortgage protection.

You can learn all about serious illness cover in this guide.

2. What does a serious illness policy cover?

You will find the specific illnesses or disabilities covered in your policy terms and conditions. Your insurer will only pay out if you’re diagnosed with a listed ailment.

It should be noted that not all policies cover the same illnesses. There are some policies where you cannot claim unless your condition is extremely serious. Often more common illnesses, such as treatable cancers, aren’t covered at all.

Your insurer may not pay out if your illness has been caused by drug or alcohol abuse, a self-inflicted injury, or failure to follow medical advice.

Also, you usually won’t be covered if your illness is judged to be caused by drug or alcohol abuse, a self-inflicted injury or a failure to follow medical advice.

3. What is standalone serious illness cover? 

Standalone serious illness cover means that your cover is kept separate from any other life insurance policies you might have, such as life cover or mortgage protection. It’s a single policy.

4. What is accelerated serious illness cover?

Accelerated serious illness cover is added on to a mortgage protection or life insurance policy. 

Since the cover is combined with your life insurance, if you were to pass away from an accident or an illness that’s not covered by your serious illness policy, you would still receive a pay-out.

However, if you do make a serious illness claim, you will receive a payout which will be subtracted from the overall lump sum of your life insurance. If you then pass away during your policy term, your beneficiaries will receive the remaining amount left on your cover.

5. What is additional serious illness cover? 

Additional serious illness cover can also be added on to a mortgage protection or life insurance policy, however, it’s seen as being a separate policy. As such, it tends to be more expensive than accelerated cover.

The difference between accelerated and additional serious illness cover is that with accelerated cover, making a serious illness cover will reduce your life cover. 

So, if you were to make a claim with additional serious illness cover, the amount remaining on your life insurance policy will remain the same.

6. How much does serious illness cover cost per month? 

The cost of your policy will depend on several factors:

  • The amount of cover you choose
  • How long you want the policy to run for
  • Your age
  • Your health status
  • Whether you want a single life policy or a joint/dual life policy. You can learn about the difference here.

Smokers will also pay more for cover than non-smokers, as they are more prone to illnesses. 

7. Do I need serious illness cover? 

You may need serious illness cover if:

  • You have no other cover that would provide for you in times of ill health
  • You have a mortgage or other loans that would need to be paid off if you became ill and were unable to work
  • You have dependents who rely on your income

If you are considering serious illness coverage, you should speak with a qualified financial advisor, who will do a full financial review with you.

8. What illnesses are covered?

The list of illnesses covered tends to vary from insurer to insurer. Usually, insurers will cover the following: 

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Blindness
  • Some types of cancer
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Major organ transplantation 
  • A benign brain tumour
  • Severe burns

9. Are there any exclusions?

There may be certain exclusions and conditions that apply to your policy, which must be outlined in your policy documents. 

Certain illnesses may have additional criteria that you must meet for a claim to be valid, such as:

  • The illness results in permanent brain damage
  • The illness must meet a particular level of severity. For example, a minor stroke may not be covered even if a stroke is covered under the policy

There may also be specific exclusions based on your medical history, job or lifestyle.

A list of additional criteria will be included in the policy document.

10. Can I get cover if I have a pre-existing condition?

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you can still receive cover but an insurer will likely decide to exclude your pre-existing condition from your policy.

You will likely struggle if you’re seeking a policy that will cover your pre-existing illness. If you can find cover, it will likely be very expensive.

11. What are the benefits of a serious illness policy?

Depending on the policy, there may be additional benefits included in your cover. We’d recommend shopping around for the right policy to suit your needs, so you’re getting the best value for money.

Additional benefits can include:

  • Children’s life cover: Some insurers will pay up to 50% of the specified illness lump sum if one of your children is diagnosed with a specified illness. Typically children must be aged between 30 days and 21 years.
  • Monthly income on death: Certain insurers will pay a monthly income in the event of death, for the remainder of the chosen term.  
  • Reinstatement clause: If you missed a premium payment, a reinstatement clause allows you to reinstate your lapsed policy within 90 days of not making your payment. 

12. What add-ons are available for serious illness cover?

When choosing your serious illness cover policy, there are numerous optional extras you can add to your policy, including indexation and convertible term cover.

Indexation will allow you to increase your cover annually in line with inflation, which helps to protect the real value of your cover over time.

This would benefit someone who takes out a policy for a long period, such as 20 years or more.

Convertible term cover allows you to extend the term of your specified illness policy at any point, without having to undergo another medical examination. 

This is a good option for those who will be making significant life changes in the future or are worried about future health issues.

13. How do I compare serious illness cover?

Comparing serious illness cover is easy with bonkers.ie. 

Just head over to our serious illness comparison page, fill in some details such as your age, the amount of cover you want, and the term the policy should run.

We'll compare policies from Ireland's main providers and produce a quote for you in just seconds.

For more details, take a look at our guide on how to compare and apply for serious illness cover.

Easily compare insurance 

Along with serious illness cover, you can compare policies for life insurance, mortgage protection, home insurance, and car insurance on bonkers.ie.


We also compare plenty of other products including energy deals, broadband bundles, banking services, and mortgage rates. Why not see what you could save today?

Looking for more information?

We have plenty of other helpful insurance guides if you want to learn more:

You can keep up to date with our latest insurance news by reading our blogs and guide pages. 

Get in touch with your questions

Hopefully we answered any questions you had about serious illness cover in this guide, but if we missed any contact our team today on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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