What is specified illness cover?
Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

Often referred to as critical illness cover or serious illness cover, in this article we'll explain what specified illness cover is and why you might need it.

Specified illness cover is a form of insurance that pays out a tax-free lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness during the term of the policy. Specified illness cover is sometimes called critical illness cover or serious illness cover but they all refer to the same thing.

Specified illness cover can be purchased as standalone cover or combined with life cover or mortgage protection under the one policy. 

Standalone specified illness cover

Standalone specified illness cover means that your cover is kept separate from any other life insurance policies you might have. 

Accelerated and additional specified illness cover

Your specified illness policy can also be added to your mortgage protection or life insurance policy. In this instance it can be added as additional cover or accelerated cover and is best explained with an example.

Accelerated specified illness cover 

  • Say you buy €200,000 life insurance with €50,000 accelerated serious illness cover
  • You make a successful serious illness claim
  • €50,000 cash is paid out tax-free by your insurer
  • Your life cover reduces by €50,000 to €150,000
  • Your policy continues with €150,000 life cover and this amount would also be paid out if you were to die during the remainder of your policy

Additional specified illness cover

  • Say you buy €200,000 life insurance with €50,000 additional serious illness cover
  • You make a successful serious illness claim
  • €50,000 cash is paid out tax-free by your insurer
  • Your life cover remains at €200,000 as the serious illness cover was in addition to your life insurance
  • Your policy continues with €200,000 life cover and this amount would also be paid out if you were to die during the remainder of your policy

What illnesses are covered?

Before getting cover it’s really important to know that not all serious illnesses will be covered by your policy. 

With some policies your condition would have to be extremely serious before you could make a claim and in many cases more common illnesses, such as back injury and treatable cancers, aren’t covered at all.

Your policy’s terms and conditions will outline exactly what’s covered and your insurer will only pay out if you’re diagnosed with one of the specific illnesses or disabilities listed.

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.

Do I need specified illness cover?

It depends. 

If you have a mortgage or other loans that would still need to be paid if you became ill and were unable to work, then you should consider getting cover. Likewise, if you have a family who relies on your income then cover is recommended.

The maximum rate for Disability Allowance from the Department of Social Welfare is currently only €232 a week, meaning relying solely on the State should you get sick won’t be an option for most people.  

Before taking out specified illness cover it’s always a good idea to speak with a qualified financial advisor who can conduct a full financial review with you and advise of the appropriate level of cover for your personal circumstances.

Who sells specified illness cover?

There are lots of providers who sell specified illness cover in Ireland such as Aviva, Irish Life, New Ireland, Royal London, and Zurich to name a few.

Do I need to undergo a medical examination to take out specified illness cover?

It depends. If you’re in fairly good health then the answer is usually no.

However if you have a history of illness, are over a certain age, or are applying for a large amount of cover then you may need to undergo a medical examination or complete an over-the-phone medical questionnaire, which will be organised and paid for by the life insurance company.

Your life insurance company may also have a medical questionnaire sent to your doctor for him or her to complete.

How much is specified illness cover?

Specified illness cover tends to be more expensive than other forms of insurance such as mortgage protection or life insurance as you don’t have to die before a benefit is paid out.

The exact cost of your policy will depend on several things such as the amount of cover you choose, how long you want the policy to run for, your age, and your health status.

Smokers will also pay more for cover than non-smokers, so another good reason to try kick the habit! 

How do I apply?

You can apply for specified illness cover through bonkers.ie. We deal with all of the main life insurance providers in Ireland meaning we can find you the best quotes available for the cover you need.  

With our easy-to-use serious illness cover comparison service you can review policy prices in just a few seconds. In many cases you can get covered in less than 1 hour!

Don’t forget that you can also compare life insurance, mortgage protection insurance and home insurance on bonkers.ie too.

Have a read of our other insurance guides

If you found this guide helpful, you may benefit from reading our other insurance guides. Consider taking a look at the following:

You can stay up to date with all of the latest insurance news and top saving tips with our blogs and guides.

Have any questions?

Serious illness cover gives you peace of mind that should something unexpected happen you’ll be covered in your hour of need, however wrapping your head around various policies can be confusing.

If you have any questions about serious illness cover, let us know! We have an in-house insurance broker team, made up of qualified advisors who would be happy to help. 

Feel free to also get in touch with us on our social media channels.