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Income Protection vs. Critical Illness

Ever sat and thought about what would happen if you lost your income abruptly? It’s not the most pleasant thing to think about, right? The truth though is that it could happen, and it’s happened to many others before.

For example, you could be diagnosed with a debilitating condition that makes you unable to work or stay as productive. How would your family survive? Would they be able to pay off the mortgage? How about your children, would they still be able to attend that nice private school?

We don’t mean to scare you but life is full of uncertainties. Research shows that about 29% of men and 31% of women aged 25 take at least two months off from work due to illness or injury by the time they reach 65.

How ready are you if you ever find yourself a part of these statistics? We have some good news; you can now protect your loved ones financially in case of those uncertainties by taking out life insurance.

Income protection vs. critical illness cover

Income protection insurance and critical illness cover are two popular types of life policies designed to ensure your life and that of your loved ones run as smoothly as possible if you ever fall ill and are unable to remain productive.

In this quick guide, we will help you understand these two types of insurance to enable you to pick the one that best suits your needs. Let’s dive straight in!

Income protection

If anything was to happen to you and you were unable to work, income protection cover comes in to replace your monthly income. How this policy works is by paying out a part of your income in monthly installments for the period you are unable to work due to an illness or injuries.

Unlike the critical illness cover, income protection covers issues such as stress and even back problems. Indeed, research shows that stress and back problems are the top causes of income protection claims.

Most income protection policies will pay up to around 70% of your monthly income until you are fully recovered and ready to go back to work. On top of that, some insurers also offer counseling and rehabilitation services to speed up your recovery.

Depending on your budget, you can choose a long-term income protection plan that protects your income until retirement or a short-term one that covers you for 2-5 years. You can use online tools to calculate income protection amount that’s most suitable for your specific situation.

Critical illness cover

Critical illness cover pays out a tax-free lump sum amount to your family if you fall critically ill. The critical illnesses covered are usually listed in the policy.

The cost of your plan largely depends on your job, health, age, and lifestyle. If you have a huge mortgage debt that would be impossible to pay without an income, critical illness cover would be ideal for you.

According to statistics, cancer is the biggest reason for critical illness cover claims. In the event you need private healthcare and can’t afford it, you can use the payout to seek specialized treatment.

Choosing between income protection and critical illness cover

Both income protection and critical illness covers are crucially important life insurance plans that are designed to give you much-needed peace of mind in case you can’t work because of an illness or accident. In a perfect world, you would get both policies.

However, if you are like most people, budget constraints mean that you have to choose one or the other as you can hardly afford taking out both. As with anything, the type of plan you choose will highly depend on your individual circumstances and needs.

For example, if you are self-employed, have a family to provide for, don’t have savings, or have financial responsibilities to take care of such as mortgages, then the income protection cover can be very useful for you.

On the other hand, critical illness cover pays out a tax-free lump sum that can help clear huge bills if you are diagnosed with a life-changing illness. The most common illnesses covered by this plan include stroke, heart attack, and some forms of cancer. Some policies also pay out for HIV, multiple sclerosis, deafness, blindness, loss of limbs, and Parkinson’s disease. As we said, all illnesses covered by different insurers are always clearly listed in the policy.


Whichever policy you decide to get, ensure you are completely honest when applying. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, let your insurer know. Most policies payout but the small percentage that does not is almost always a result of dishonesty during policy application.

It’s important to note that both income protection and critical illness policies do not payout if you are unable to work for non-medical reasons like redundancy.

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