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Vitality Data Reveals Critical Illness Gap Runs Even Deeper

26 March 2024

Critical Illness Gap runs deeper than expected

Research from Vitality Life has found two-fifths (41%) of UK adults say the top reason they would purchase life insurance is to provide financial security and protection for their loved ones, yet it also revealed potential gaps in policy understanding that could leave consumers unprotected in the future.  

The provider’s research highlighted over half (57%) of Critical Illness Cover (CIC) holders believe their plan will continue to cover future illnesses after they receive a payout. However, unlike other types of insurance, traditional CIC ceases following a full pay-out, leaving clients uninsured, and potentially uninsurable, in the future. 

These findings follow Vitality’s recent discovery of a ‘critical illness gap’, which pointed to other CIC consumer understanding gaps, with half (49%) of those with CIC not aware of the conditions they would be covered for if they needed to claim.  

When looking at the most important considerations consumers face when purchasing CIC, good value for money came out on top with 9in 10 (89%) saying this was very important to them. The findings point to “good value” as being more than purchasing cover with the lowest premiums, as nearly half (44%) of UK adults said they would be willing to pay higher premiums for the ability to claim more than once. This shot up to 64% when those aged 25-34 shared their thoughts.  

Hayley Morris, made two separate claims on her Vitality Serious Illness Cover policy before the age of 40. The first for a pulmonary embolism in 2021, a condition unique to Vitality’s Serious Illness cover, and the second for thymoma cancer in 2023. When reviewing the results of the findings she said “While I never expected to claim on my serious illness cover, let alone twice, the fact that my cover continues to this day is incredible.  

“Knowing there is financial protection in place for me and my family if anything else happens or if my conditions come back, that my daughter can have the money she might need in the future to get married, go to university, things like that, is a massive relief.” 

Justin Taurog, Managing Director, VitalityLife said: “When we first identified the critical illness gap we were examining how well people understood what they were protected against, but these additional findings raise further concerns. If people believe they will be able to make future claims on their CIC policies, we have a gap, and it demonstrates how little consumers understand CIC. 

“This highlights the difference a severity-based approach can have to people across the market, providing cover for a wider number of conditions at earlier stages and continuous cover that allows for multiple claims across a client’s plan, helping ensure consumers are not left uninsured and uninsurable.” 

Zoe Priselac, Managing Director at Way More said: “These statistics really bring to light how common the misconception is that people think their critical illness policy would continue to cover them and pay out again after they have made a claim.  

“By understanding this protection gap, as advisers we can help to make sure people have the financial protection they are looking for, for longer, which is where products such as the severity-based cover Vitality offers, comes in.” 

In 2022, 1 in 12 Vitality claimants had previously claimed on their SIC plan, with £3m paid out to members for secondary Serious Illness Cover claims**.  


Notes to Editors:  

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

*Critical illness insurance - Citizens Advice 

**VitalityLife Claims and Benefits Report 2023 

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