Critical Illness vs PMI

By Vicki Coleman

Critical illness and private medical insurance are desirable insurance products – if you can call them that – for lots of people, but is it worth having both policies?

In a recent poll of UK workers[1], private medical insurance (PMI) was the second-most popular benefit – behind flexible hours – that workers wanted from their employers. Critical illness cover was down in seventh, just below free snacks.

Life cover and income protection insurance were also on the list.

It’s a sign of how seriously people are now taking their health. The cost-of-living and NHS crises will undoubtedly be playing their part, as people look to protect their income in addition to their health.

However, you might only be able to stretch to affording the premiums for one of critical illness cover or PMI – which one should you choose? We’re not here to tell you what to do, but by outlining how they differ, we hope you’ll be able to make an informed choice.

What’s the difference?

Both critical illness and PMI are designed to help you get the treatment you need, when you need it. They’ll also protect your finances from taking a hit due to poor health, but in different ways.

For example, if a health condition is limiting your life in some way, preventing you from working to full capacity – which is having an impact on your income – PMI will speed up your treatment, helping you to get back to full working order quicker.

Unfortunately, the NHS is not in great shape right now – that’s putting it lightly – leaving some patients waiting more than 30 weeks for the treatment they need. With PMI in place, you could be seen in a matter of weeks.

PMI can cover treatment for all types of injury and illness. Whereas critical illness insurance only provides cover for serious life-threatening or life-limiting conditions.

However, if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a serious illness, critical illness should ensure you receive a payout from your insurer which could amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds, given in one lump sum.

With PMI, you won’t get a payout for any loss of income or additional costs resulting from your condition – it will just be the cost of treatment that’s covered.

What do they cover?

We’ve already touched on this in the previous section. But let’s look at it in a bit more detail now.

Let’s start with critical illness cover, which is the more straightforward of the two. The number and variety of conditions covered differs from insurer to insurer, but there are seven core conditions that tend to be shared by all critical illness policies:

·       Cancer

·       Issues requiring a coronary artery bypass

·       Heart attack

·       Kidney failure

·       Major organ transplant

·       Multiple sclerosis

·       Stroke

Permanent disability caused by illness or injury is also usually covered by most policies.

Critical illness policies don’t usually differ too much. PMI, on the other hand, comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s up to the policyholder to ensure their policy covers everything that they want it to.

A basic policy will just cover the costs of in-patient treatments – such as tests and surgery – and day-care surgery.

More comprehensive cover can extend to out-patient treatments, such as specialists and consultants. That often includes physiotherapy and complementary practitioner treatment such as acupuncture.

However, even with both critical illness and PMI policies in place, not everything will be covered. Cosmetic surgery and normal pregnancy and childbirth costs, for example, will be covered instead by the NHS or by you if you choose to go private.

How much do they cost?

In truth, it’s difficult to say exactly how much a typical health insurance policy costs, as not everyone will choose the same cover. It’s entirely down to your personal circumstances and what you’re looking to be covered for.

However, PMI is usually more expensive than critical illness insurance. That’s because PMI claims are more common than critical illness claims. In an average year, you might need a bit of physio for a niggling back injury or, if it’s an unlucky year, some elective surgery to repair a hernia.

But it would have to be a particularly bad set of circumstances to claim on critical illness cover. Thankfully, those kinds of years don’t come along too often – or at all – for most of us.

Critical illness cover can be bought on its own or with a life insurance policy – it’s usually cheaper to buy the two together, but you might find that the cover is not as comprehensive.

PMI can only be bought as a standalone policy.

When taking out either a critical illness or PMI policy, it’s important that you’re honest about your health and any pre-existing conditions.

What’s next?

We’d suggest speaking to one of our experts at QuoteSearch who will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about critical illness private medical insurance.

From there, you can make a decision about your next steps, be it one policy or two.

The best way of deciding whether PMI and critical illness cover are worth the cost of a policy is to generate some quotes and see for yourself how much your premiums would be.

Different people have different risk mindsets and health needs, and our experts are trained to find the most suitable policies to match individual requirements.

At QuoteSearch, we’re happy to get as many quotes as you need to help you make your mind up. We don’t have any favourite suppliers – the quotes that you see are comprehensive and competitive.

So, don’t be shy in requesting quotes for different types of cover – that’s what our experts are paid to do!

To compare your free PMI and critical illness quotes from leading providers, click here.

[1] https://www.covermagazine.co.uk/news/4027021/pmi-life-critical-illness-employee-benefits-wishlist