Critical illness cover pays a tax-free lump sum if you're diagnosed with a defined critical illness during the policy term.
Provided you keep paying your premiums, you should be covered throughout the term. Once the policy term ends, all protection stops.
When you take out a policy you can decide how long it will last e.g. until your children have grown up, or until the mortgage is paid off.
Critical illness cover is often available as a combined policy with term life insurance. In these instances, you can often only claim once.
For example, if you get a cash payout after being diagnosed with cancer, the policy is effectively finished. There is usually no life insurance payout if you die at a later date.
Most people could benefit from a critical illness policy, but the impact of the premium and the benefit of the payout will vary from person to person.
It's a matter of weighing up the monthly cost against the benefits of a payout. If you and your family depend heavily on your salary, it could be exactly the kind of protection you need.
Currently 1 in 3 people in the UK suffer with a critical illness at some stage in their lives.