Although Critical Illness cover is sold by life assurers, there is a big difference when compared with life insurance - you don't have to die to benefit from the Critical Illness insurance policy. This type of cover is designed to pay out either as a (tax-free) lump sum or as a regular income (FIB) in the event of you suffering from certain types of serious illness or if you have to undergo certain types of surgery.
Critical Illness insurance is designed to help with the extra costs incurred as a result of contracting a particular condition. It is important to note that the policy only pays out if you contract one of a defined list of illnesses specified in your policy. It is important to remember that if you contract an illness which is not covered by your policy you will not receive a payout. These policies differ in what they cover, so you should always check the policy wording.
Unless you have substantial savings, some form of Critical Illness insurance may well make sense for you, particularly if you have any debt such as a mortgage. How much cover you should have depends on your circumstances. Consider the sums that you might need in the event of contracting a serious illness - being able to pay off the mortgage or making modifications to your home, for example. If you're able to cover the necessary costs incurred from your own or your partner's savings, then critical illness insurance may well be unnecessary and it may be more appropriate to look at covering your income instead.
The size of your insurance premium will depend on your age, health, occupation, whether or not you smoke, the type and amount of cover you need, and how long you need it for. It is important to remember that premiums could also be more expensive if you have a history of a particular illness in your family or the illness may be excluded from the cover.