Critical illness cover; as science marches on, be clear on what you have to declare

There’s no doubt that for many people who have suddenly fallen foul of a critical illness, having adequate insurance in place has made the difference between relative security and stressful uncertainty.

Like any insurance however the provider will weigh up the risks, and the information they have on your health and medical history will have a key bearing on not just what you’re covered for but what you pay.

Genes are the fashion

The recent high profile case of Angelina Jolie undergoing serious surgery due to a family history of breast cancer, coupled with a positive test for the BRCA1 gene, coincided with talk of the £5 saliva test. Following a comprehensive study that revealed a host of genetic markers that identify those most at risk of developing various cancers, it is now a possibility that this test could be used to give patients a personalised risk profile.

Knowing how long you are likely to live, and the likely state of your health throughout those years, could have an enormous effect not just on any critical illness cover but on all types of life-linked insurance.

Predictive or diagnostic?

Mere mention of the Concordat and Moratorium on Genetics and Insurance will no doubt find some readers sliding their cursor in the direction of a slightly less heavy read. Stick with it though; there are a couple of points very much worth bearing in mind.

If you’re worried that you could possibly be at risk from a genetic disease but have yet to show any symptoms, any test is classed as predictive and does not need to be disclosed to an insurer (with the exception of Huntingdon’s Disease where a positive test must be disclosed for life cover over £500,000).

Conversely, if you do have symptoms of a genetic disease and take a test because of it this is classed as diagnostic. These tests have to be disclosed to an insurer.
An upside (sort of)

With a nod in the direction of a huge contradiction in terms, there is some sort of upside to the subject of critical illness and genetic testing, however hard to believe.

When the time comes for your pension to buy an annuity, the provider, as with all life-linked cover, will try and estimate how long you will live as a basis for your annual income. Depending on the status of any genetic tests you may have had you could be eligible for an ?impaired life? or ?enhanced? annuity providing a higher income.

Not great comfort admittedly, but at least the days that are left can be spent in a little more luxury.

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