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The Critical Illness Gap Leaving Unaware Policy Holders at Risk

7 March 2024

Unaware Policy Holders at Risk

Research from Vitality Life Insurance has found half (51%) of those with Critical Illness Cover (CIC) aren’t fully aware of the conditions they would be covered for if they needed to claim. 

This has led Vitality to identify a ‘critical illness gap’ to raise awareness of the issue, which they hope will ultimately help better protect consumers. 

Vitality found that Crohn’s was a key condition sitting within this critical illness gap, with nearly one in six (16%) CIC policyholders believing their policy would pay out in the event of a diagnosis of the disease. However, not all CIC policies cover the condition, and those that do require instances of surgery to pay out. Given that only 1 in 5 of those diagnosed with Crohn’s will require surgery within five years of a diagnosis*, the likelihood of a successful claim being made is significantly reduced. 

Vitality also found CIC policyholders believed they would be covered for conditions such as loss of sight in one eye (22%), a craniotomy (for any reason) (17%), pulmonary embolism (17%) necrotising fasciitis (16%) and the surgical removal of a kidney (15%). However, these conditions aren’t typically covered by critical illness plans, with some unique to Serious Illness Cover.  Serious Illness Cover, Vitality’s alternative to critical illness, protects clients from illnesses deemed less “critical” but still has serious impact on a person's quality of life. 

Ultimately, illnesses like Crohn’s disease may not be life-threatening but they can have a lifelong impact on a person’s way of life, potentially impacting their ability to work, leading to higher household bills** and lifelong prescription costs for those living in England***. 

These findings reveal a significant gap in people’s understanding of what their policy covers, which could leave people financially at risk and unprotected against conditions they expect they would receive a payout for. 

Justin Taurog, Managing Director, VitalityLife said: “We’ve long understood that our clients want to be covered for a wide range of conditions, and while something might not be life-threatening, it can significantly threaten their way and quality of life.  

“We designed our Serious Illness Cover to provide extensive protection that provides comprehensive protection that covers illnesses earlier and pays out for conditions not covered anywhere else. In fact, in 2022 1 in 8 claims paid by Serious Illness Cover weren’t covered by a typical enhanced CIC plan highlighting that Serious Illness Cover is more than a name difference, rather it is responding to the modern trends in illnesses, aligning it to the needs of the modern consumer.”

Advisers can use Vitality’s SIC vs CIC comparison tool to give prospective clients an easier way to see what conditions are covered under the typical CIC policy or are unique to Vitality’s SIC offering. Users can launch a pop-out experience that features a quick video and interactive content that highlights the many conditions covered under SIC. 

Notes to editors
Research was conducted by Opinium among 2,000 UK adults in January 2024 

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