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Serious Illness Cover Ireland-New 2024 Guide

What Is Serious Illness Cover?

First off, Serious illness cover (also known as specified illness cover or critical illness cover) will pay you a tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed with a serious illness that is covered by your policy. Importantly, you can choose to buy your Serious Illness Cover either individually or in combination with life insurance or mortgage protection. However, when it comes to illnesses covered,there are up to 90 different serious illnesses, depending on the insurer you choose.

What is Partial Payment Serious Illness Cover?

Partial payments are paid when you are diagnosed with what is considered a lesser serious illness compared to the illness covered under full payment.

Generally, Partial payments are paid at a reduced rate compared to your chosen level of serious illness cover. 

For example:

With Zurich their partial serious illness cover payment is 50% of your serious illness benefit up to a maximum of €15,000. Similarly, with Aviva Ireland it 50% of your original serious illness cover benefit amount up to maximum of €20,000, which is lower.

Serious illness cover for kids?

Serious Illness Cover Ireland-New 2024 Guide

Thankfully, if you have Serious Illness Cover on your policy, your kids will automatically have serious illness cover.

The amount will depend on the insurer and level of cover you choose for yourself:

  • Irish Life : The lower of €25,000 or 50 per cent of the parent’s illness cover amount. A child covered to 25 if in full-time education.
  • Zurich Life: The lower of €25,000 or 50 per cent of the parent’s illness cover amount. A child covered to 25 if in full-time education.
  • Aviva Ireland: The lower of €25,000 or 50 per cent of the parent’s illness cover amount. A child covered to 25 if in full-time education.
  • Royal London Ireland: The lower of €25,000 or 50 per cent of the parent’s illness cover amount. A child covered to 21 if in full-time education.
  • New Ireland: The lower of €25,000 or 50 per cent of the parent’s illness cover amount. A child covered to 21 if in full-time education.

Do I need Serious Illness Cover?

Ask yourself, “If I could not work any longer due to a serious illness how would I survive financially?”

OK, It is likely that if you have assets such as rental properties, dividends that provide you with significant unearned income then you may feel you do not need serious illness cover.On the other hand, if you depend on your good health to earn a living then Serious illness cover is something you should consider.

According to the Irish Cancer Society, cancer is a significant health issue, with over 44,000 new cases diagnosed each year. As of 2020, there were 207,000 cancer patients or former cancer patients alive in Ireland.

For most people, being diagnosed with Serious Illness will likely have some financial consequences. This benefit can give you and your family some financial peace of mind and time to recover if you are diagnosed with a serious and long-term illness.

Does Serious Illness Cover really pay out??

Serious Illness Cover Ireland-New 2024 Guide

Absolutely, it does :

New Ireland : 2021 statistics show they paid over 27 million euros in serious illness claims in 2021.

Aviva Ireland : In 2021,126 customers who were diagnosed with a serious illness were paid a total of  €10 million during the year.

Irish Life: Paid €49.2 million in total across 744 claims in 2021. Malignant Cancer, Stroke and Heart related claims make up 87% of Specified Illness claims paid

Royal London Ireland : Paid €163 million in serious illness cover claims in 2021. (note this includes their UK claims)

Zurich: Paid out more than €23.4m in serious illness claims in 2022, with cancer accounting for 69% of all serious illness claims. The average age of claimants was 52 with 57% of all male claims relating to cancer.

It is worth noting, when it comes to females, 83% of all claims related to cancer and 45% of those related to breast cancer claims

Serious Illness Cover Ireland-New 2024 Guide

Which Serious Illness Cover is the best in Ireland?

Serious Illness Cover Ireland-New 2024 Guide

Honestly, this really will depend on your personal situation.

The most common claims made for serious illness cover are for what we call “the BIG 3”, which is CANCER, STROKE and HEART ATTACK. Thankfully all the main insurers cover theses illnesses under their Serious Illness Cover benefit.

Although when we look at some other illnesses, we can see some differences in coverage.

Some examples:

Drug Resistant Epilepsy with surgery: Royal London Ireland is the only Insurer covering this illness with full payment under their serious illness benefit.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Royal London Ireland is the only Insurer covering this illness with full payment under their serious illness benefit.

Diabetes Mellitus Type 1: Is covered under partial payment Serious Illness Cover with New Ireland, Zurich & Royal London Ireland. This illness is not Covered with Aviva & Irish Life.

Booster Serious Illness Benefit: Unique to Zurich Life, this provides a booster payment of up 200% your original Serious Illness Cover or maximum €50,000 for certain illnesses.

Additional Benefits that come with Serious Illness Cover

Asides from the illnesses covered you may also want to consider additional benefits provided free with each insurer, for example:

Aviva Life & Pensions Ireland DAC:

Offers the Best Doctors benefit. Policyholders and their immediate families, if diagnosed with a serious illness, can access Best Doctors Second Medical Opinion. This service provides an expert review of their medical case from a network of over 50,000 medical specialists in 450 specialties. It’s confidential, complements their own doctor’s care, and includes a comprehensive, personalized report with recommendations, ensuring the right diagnosis and treatment plan.

Aviva FREE GP Tele Doc Benefit

  • It’s easy to use from the comfort of your own home
  • Provides quick access to an experienced GP
  • You can use it at home or on holiday
  • This service is available to you, your spouse or partner, your children up to age 18.
  • get prescriptions sent to your local pharmacy 

Royal London Insurance DAC:

Includes a very valuable Helping Hand service which complements the financial benefits of the insurance with emotional and practical support at a time when it is needed most. In times of need Helping Hand can provide you with: Bereavement counsellors or; Speech and language therapists or; Face to face second medical opinion or; Complementary therapies or; Massage or; Physiotherapy for serious health conditions. These ancillary specialist therapies are only provided if recommended by your personal nurse advisor and only for a limited time. Helping Hand is available for you and your family from day one of the policy, regardless of which type of policy you choose and whether or not you make a claim and at no additional cost. And once your support from your Personal Nurse Advisor starts, there’s no limit to how often you can speak to them.

Irish Life :

The Irish Life LifeCare range of services offers you the following, at no extra cost. Nurse on Call: someone to help when you’re not sure what to do. Nurse on Call is a helpline service that gives you access to qualified nurses for non-emergency medical advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

As you can see there is a lot to consider here and ultimately your choice on the best Serious Illness insurance provider for you and your family, will depend on your personal circumstances, including kids ages, family size, health history, medical needs etc.

A lot to take in isn’t it? If you would like some advice or guidance on this feel free to pop me a message here.

What is the difference between Income protection and Serious Illness Cover?

Both will provide you with financial protection in different ways. Firstly, Serious Illness Cover will pay you a once off lump sum payment which can be ideal for clearing any debts or paying upfront medical costs.

Whereas Income Protection will provide you with a guaranteed ongoing income over the long term in the event you are unable to work. Income Protection payments are taxable like normal income whereas serious illness lump sums are usually tax free.

Secondly,Serious Illnesses Cover does not cover accident, injury, or mental health, whereas Income Protection can cover these areas.

In short, Income Protection & Serious Illness Cover can be used together to create a strong financial safety net.

WARNING- Survival Period with Serious Illness Cover

Serious Illness Cover Ireland-New 2024 Guide

Each Insurer has a minimum survival period with their Serious Illness benefit. Essentially, it means that to make a claim you will need to survive between 10-14 days depending on insurer, from your diagnosis date. For this this reason I am not a fan of standalone serious illness cover.

On the other hand having life cover linked to your serious illness cover will eliminate the risk  caused by the survival period and it will normally not cost much more than standalone serious illness.

For instance, lets say you are walking down the street and suffer a massive heart which results in your death a few hours later.As a result, in this situation your serious illness cover will not insure you as you have died before the survival period ends, HOWEVER your life cover will cover you and payout, ensuring your family receives a lump sum.

What illnesses are cover by Serious Illness Cover in Ireland in 2024?

Below is a full list of all the illness covered serious illness cover in Ireland for new policies, with each of the Major Insurers in the market (information correct as of 17th January 2024).

Specified Illness Cover     
AIDS/HIV (Assault, Occupational, Transfusion)YesYesYesYesYes
Alzheimer’s DiseaseYesYesYesYesYes
Aorta Graft SurgeryYesYesYesYesYes
Aplastic AnaemiaYesYesYesYesYes
Bacterial MeningitisYesYesYesYesYes
Balloon ValvuloplastyYesYesYesYesYes
Benign brain tumourYesYesYesYesYes
Benign Spinal Cord TumourYesYesYesYesYes
Brain injury due to Hypoxia/AnoxiaYesYesYesYesYes
Cardiac arrest (with defibrillator insertion)YesYesYesYesYes
Cauda EqinaNoNoYesYesNo
Child Specific Serious IllnessesNoNoNoNoYes
Chronic Liver DiseaseYesYesYesYesYes
Chronic Lung DiseaseYesYesYesYesYes
Chronic PancreatitisYesYesYesYesNo
Coronary artery by-pass graftsYesYesYesYesYes
Corticobasal Ganglionic DegenerationYesYesYesYesYes
Creutzfeld-Jacob DiseaseYesYesYesYesYes
Devic’s diseaseYesYesYesYesYes
Diffuse Lewy body diseaseYesYesYesYesYes
Drug Resistant Epilepsy with surgeryNoNoNoYesNo
Heart AttackYesYesYesYesYes
Heart Structural RepairYesYesYesYesYes
Heart Valve Replacement or RepairYesYesYesYesYes
Intensive Care (with mechanical ventilation)YesYesYesYesYes
Interstitial Lung DiseaseNoNoNoYesNo
Kidney FailureYesYesYesYesYes
Loss of HearingYesYesYesYesYes
Loss of one limbYesYesYesYesYes
Loss of limbsYes*YesYes*YesYes*
Loss of SpeechYesYesYesYesYes
Major head injuryYesYesYesYesYes
Major Organ TransplantYesYesYesYesYes
Motor Neurone DiseaseYesYesYesYesYes
Multiple SclerosisYesYesYesYesYes
Multiple System AtrophyYesYesYesYesYes
Muscular DystrophyNoNoYesYesNo
Myasthenia GravisNoNoYesYesNo
Necrotising FasciitisYesYesYesYesYes
Paralysis of one limbYesYesYesYesYes
Parkinson’s DiseaseYesYesYesYesYes
Parkinsonism-demetia-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis complexYesYesYesYesYes
Peripheral Vascular Disease (with bypass surgery)YesYesYesYesYes
Primary Pulmonary HypertensionYesYesYesYesYes
Primary Sclerosing CholangitisYesYesYesYesNo
Progressive Supra-Nuclear PalsyYesYesYesYesYes
Pulmonary Artery SurgeryYesYesYesYesYes
Rheumatoid ArthritisNoNoNoYesNo
Severe BurnsYesYesYesYesYes
Severe Crohn’s DiseaseYesYesYesYesYes
Short Bowel SyndromeYesYesYesYesNo
Spinal StrokeYesYesYesYesYes
Systemic Lupus ErythematosusYesYesYesYesYes
Terminal illnessYesYesYesYesYes
Partial Payment Specified Illness Cover
Angioplasty (single vessel)YesYesYesYesYes
Angioplasty (double vessel)YesYesYesYesYes
Aortic AneurysmYesYesYesYesYes
Brain Abscess drained via CraniotomyYesYesYes (Full pmt)Yes (Full pmt)Yes
Carcinoma in situ (Urinary Bladder)YesYesYesYesYes
Carotid Artery StenosisYesYesYesYesYes
Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (Eye Stroke)YesYesYesYesYes
Cerebral AneurysmYesYesYesYesYes
Cerebral Arteriovenous MalformationYesYesYesYesYes
Crohn’s Disease (with intestinal resection)YesYesYesYesYes
Cystectomy (Surgical removal of urinary bladder)YesYesYesYesYes
Diabetes Mellitus Type 1NoNoYesYesYes
Other Cancers / Early Stage Cancer / Carcinoma in situ (with surgery)YesYesYesYesYes
Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) with surgeryYesYesYesYesYes
Guillain-Barré syndromeNoNoNoYesNo
Heart FailureNo*No*No*YesNo*
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator for primary prevention of sudden cardiac deathYesYesYesYesYes
Liver ResectionYesYesYesYesYes
Low Level Prostate CancerYesYesYesYesYes
Neuroendocrine Tumour of Low Malignant PotentialYesYesYesYesYes
Ovarian Tumour of Borderline Malignancy with Removal of OvaryYesYesYesYesYes
Peripheral Vascular Disease (with angioplasty)YesYesYesYesYes
Permanent Pacemaker InsertionNoYesYesYesYes
Pituitary TumourYesYesYesYesYes
Serious Accident CoverYesYesYesYesYes
Severe Burns (lower % of body surface)YesYesYesYesYes
Severe SepsisNoNoYesYes (Full pmt)No
Severe Mental IllnessNoNoNoYesNo
Significant visual impairmentYesYesYesYesYes
Single LobectomyYesYesYesYesYes
Spinal AneurysmNoYesYesYesNo
Spinal Arteriovenous MalformationNoYesYesYesNo
Surgical Removal of One EyeYesYesYesYesYes
Syringomyelia/Syringobulbia (treated by surgery)YesYesYes (Full pmt)Yes (Full pmt)Yes
Total ColectomyYesYesYesYesYes
Ulcerative Colitis treated w/total colectomyYesYesYesYesYes

If you have reached this far well done!! I hope you feel you have better understanding of Serious Illness Cover than before you landed on this page. If not , grab a coffee and come back for more 🙂

Finally, If you have any questions in relation to this you can reach me personally on 01 582 3523 or email me at Aidan@financiallife.ie

Thanks for reading


Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. It is advisable to seek expert financial advice for personalized guidance regarding life insurance.


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