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Critical illness creates £15bn hit to UK economy

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Critical illness, including cancer, MS, strokes and coronary heart disease costs the UK economy over £15bn a year as people withdraw from the workplace.

The impact of cancer alone is £9.3bn according to Legal & General’s annual Cost of Critical Illness report. This is not only people being unable to work, but also those still in work but affected by long-term consequences such as fatigue and post-traumatic stress. However, the biggest impact comes from premature death (£5,2bn).

Coronary heart disease and strokes caused a financial impact of £2.8bn and £1.9bn respectively. MS, while less common UK workers, has a disproportionate effect on the UK workforce when compared to the number of sufferers. Only 28% of MS sufferers are still in employment.

John Summerfield, protection director at The Mortgage Broker Ltd, said: “While it’s clear that diseases like cancer and strokes have a major impact on the economy, the effects of these conditions are much more immediate, worrying and potentially financially damaging for the individuals diagnosed with them.

Being diagnosed with a critical illness means that people often have to take time off work to recover, which has a financial impact through loss of earnings and the added worry of struggling to pay monthly bills or the mortgage. This is precisely where Critical Illness Insurance can play a positive role, providing much-needed support for individuals and their families by paying out a lump sum to cover monthly costs.”

Do you need critical illness cover?

Critical illness insurance is designed to ensure that a policyholder can cover their expenses if they develop a number of specific conditions. Increasingly, these protection policies are becoming more sophisticated, providing cover for a greater number of illnesses and providing optional extras. However, they remain more expensive than other types of insurance, such as life or health insurance. According to MoneySuperMarket data, the average cost of critical illness cover, alongside a level term life insurance policy, is £58 a month.

These are the situations in which you might need cover:

  1. You are self-employed, or your employer provides few benefits – some employers may continue to pay your full or part salary for a fixed period, which in turn may depend on your length of service. However, it is worth checking.
  2. Your family depends on your income – if you are not the main earner in the household, critical illness cover may be less crucial. However, those with caring responsibilities should remember that there will be a cost to replace your role.
  3. The state provision isn’t enough to cover your expenses – You can get £89.35 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)  if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks. You need to qualify for SSP and have been off work sick for 4 or more days in a row (including non-working days). When SSP finishes, you will need to look at Employment and Support allowance.
  4. You don’t have a lot of savings – If you have alternative options, such as high savings or generous family members, it may be that you can take the risk of not holding critical illness cover.


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