Understandably, no-one likes to think about the possibility of their child becoming critically ill. But if the worst did happen, it could be the case that you’d need financial support in your household, which is exactly what children’s critical illness insurance can provide. This kind of cover is available as part of regular (adult’s) critical illness cover; most insurers will include it in your policy at no extra charge.

How children’s critical illness cover works

If your critical illness policy includes children’s cover, in most cases it’ll be included as an  additional benefit. It’s important to understand what this actually means – i.e. what’s covered by an additional benefit and how the policy would pay out if you needed to claim for a children’s illness.

Illnesses covered

In a typical policy, children will be covered for the same core illnesses and conditions as adults (including things like cancer, organ failure, loss of limbs, and loss of hearing or sight – read our guide to illnesses covered by critical illnesses insurance for more detail). Some policies may also include some child-specific illnesses, including:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Down’s syndrome

To make a children’s critical illness claim, your child’s illness or condition will always need to meet the insurer’s definition, stated in your policy. The definition usually includes a required severity level or symptoms.

How it pays out

As with regular critical illness cover, the policy will only pay out for a children’s illness if your child is diagnosed with one of the illnesses or condition listed in your policy. And since children’s cover is included as an additional benefit, it’ll only pay out a proportion of your cover amount – usually 50% or £25,000, whichever is the lower amount. So, if you had £75,000 cover, you’d receive £25,000; and if you had £40,000 cover, you’d receive £20,000.

The good thing about an additional benefit is that your policy doesn’t end after a claim; if you claim for a children’s illness, your policy remains in place, and you can still claim the full amount at a later date if you yourself are diagnosed with a critical illness.

Number and age of children covered

Details like these will vary, so make sure you check the details per policy and insurer, but typically any children (biological, legally adopted, or step) are covered up to their 22nd birthday – though it could be lower, until aged 18, or higher (for instance, LV= now offers extended child’s cover up to age 23). Some insurers will cover your children from birth, while others will only cover them from 30 days old. As for the number of children covered, there’s usually no limit – all of your children will be covered (including children you already have and children you go on to have).

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Enhanced children’s critical illness cover

It’s worth noting that when you buy critical illness cover, you’ll often have the choice between standard or enhanced children’s cover. If you go for the ‘enhanced’ option, your children will be covered for more illnesses and conditions – plus, it’s usually only enhanced cover that protects them in case of child-specific illnesses too.

There’s particular value in buying enhanced children’s cover if your children are below the age of five or if you plan on having more children in the future; this is because covering child-specific illnesses is more important if you’re children are at an age when they’re likely to be more prevalent – i.e. below five. If your children are over five, standard children’s critical illness cover may suffice.

If you’re buying critical illness cover for yourself, it’s definitely worth adding child cover if you have (or are planning to have) children because it’s usually included at no extra cost. As ever, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the list of children’s illnesses covered and the definitions set by the insurer, as this will be different from policy to policy.
Can children have critical illness cover?
Yes, children can have critical illness cover by being added to an adult policy. Most insurers will add children’s cover to your policy at no extra cost. Your children will then be covered for the same illnesses as you, and sometimes some additional child-specific illnesses too.
Is it worth getting critical illness cover?
Critical illness cover is worth it if you think you’d struggle with the financial consequences of getting seriously ill. Becoming ill yourself or having a child who’s seriously ill can have a big impact on household finances, especially if a breadwinner needs to take time off work. Critical illness cover is peace of mind that a diagnosis in your household won’t leave you struggling for money.
Can I have two critical illness policies?
Yes, you can have more than one critical illness insurance policy. However, it’s always worth checking whether you can amend your existing policy to suit your needs, as this could work out simpler and cheaper.
Which is the best critical illness policy?
The best critical illness policy for you depends on your profile, needs and budget. Different policies cover different lists of illnesses, so some might be more relevant to you than others, based on your profile.

Bear in mind that one policy isn’t necessarily better than the other simply because it covers ‘more’ illnesses. The additional illnesses covered might not be relevant to you, or it might seem like more illnesses are covered simply because the insurer has categorised them in a slightly different way.

This post is intended for informative purposes only and does not constitute advice.