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International Group Critical Illness Insurance

What is International Group Critical Insurance?

The standard Group Critical Illness policy is designed to provide financial support to an employee if they are suddenly befallen by a serious illness or, in some cases, disability. International Group Critical insurance is designed to do exactly the same thing, but will provide that coverage to your employees wherever they are in the world.

For example, if a company has employees in several locations worldwide, they are all covered under one policy. As you can imagine, it’s much simpler and cost effective compared with purchasing separate plans in different countries.

How does International Group Critical Insurance work?

International Group Critical Illness plans are paid for by the company. If an employee is diagnosed with one of the illnesses stipulated in the policy, they will receive a tax-free lump sum payment.

The employer will determine the size of the payout which is usually a multiple of their income (1x to 5x salary is customary). I.e. if the employee earns £40,000 and is covered for 2x salary, then the insurance payout would be £80,000 in the event of a successful claim.

However, you can also provide coverage as a predetermined flat amount, such as $/£/€ 100,000.

An international policy is specifically designed for businesses which have multiple office locations and want one, centrally contracted plan, to cover all those employees.

This makes International Company Critical Illness Cover a bit more expensive than a domestic, single country only plan. However, it presents numerous advantages by providing a consistent and harmonised benefit level, one contract and renewal, one payment to a single insurer and no language complications. This also allows employee communications to be simplified and unified. 

The above factors significantly reduce the administration involved with running the scheme which more than covers the additional cost in premium.

Note: There are normally two levels of cover to choose from; the ‘Core’ plan, which normally covers around 7 conditions, or the ‘Extended’ cover which normally covers up to 22 conditions.

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Why offer employees International Group Critical Illness Cover?

Being diagnosed with a serious illness is a major event in a person’s life and will likely have a major impact on both themselves and their loved ones.

Faced with this situation, an employee will need both financial and emotional support. The tax-free lump-sum payment can cover up to 41 different conditions and can be used for anything deemed a priority by the employee, such as:

  • Childcare
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Tax bills

The financial impact that comes with losing a job can be devastating. According to research, the average employee couldn’t continue to pay their bills for longer than three months without a consistent income.

This is particularly true for expatriate staff who may choose to relocate, or for staff living in countries with a high cost of living.

By offering this cover as an international employee benefit, it provides a significant peace of mind for employees and their families, should the worst happen. It is also a great benefit for attract and retaining quality staff.

What are the advantages of International Group Critical Insurance?

  • Provides employees with a staggered payout or lump sum of money upon diagnosis of an insured illness, no matter where they are in the world.
  • The money can be used for anything and even includes non-medical expenses like mortgage payments, transportation, or even a holiday while you’re recovering.
  • Compared to the costs of comprehensive health insurance plans, the premiums can be very competitive.
  • No income tax is payable on the insurance payout
  • Provides cover when needing treatment in another country

What are the disadvantages of International Group Critical Insurance?

  • Some cancers may be excluded, as well as some chronic illnesses.
  • A payout may not be available if a critical illness reoccurs, such as a second stroke or heart attack.
  • Coverage may be terminated or reduced when the insured reaches a certain age.
  • Only when a critical illness is diagnosed is the payout available. This means the employee is only covered if a doctor confirms that their condition meets the policy’s definition of ‘critical.’
  • Because some critical illness policies have stringent restrictions, it’s crucial to note the specific circumstances under which a policy covers a condition.

“They went out of their way to provide us with the best quote and negotiated with our current provider, managing to increase our level of cover and drop the cost.”

What types of conditions are covered under an International Company Critical Illness Cover?

An example of the types of conditions covered are:

  • Cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney failure
  • Loss of speech
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Stroke
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Coronary Artery Bypass
  • Major organ transplant
  • Aorta graft Surgery
  • Motor Neurone Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease / Dementia
  • Benign brain Tumour
  • Blindness
  • Coma
  • Paralysis / Paraplegia
  • Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease

How much does International Group Critical Insurance cost?

The premium for International Group Critical Illness Insurance varies wildly. Several factors determine the premium, including:

  • Age of workforce
  • Industry and occupation
  • Smoker/non-smoker
  • Medical histories
  • Policy length
  • Agreed payout amount
  • Number of people included in the policy
  • Number of territories included in the policy

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the average critical illness claim value was £67,000 in 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the conditions most claimed for on an International Critical Illness Insurance?

The top three are cancer, heart conditions and stroke.

How quickly does International Group Critical Illness Insurance pay out?

It is standard for insurers to require that employees survive at least 14 days after diagnosis to be able to make an eligible claim. This is called the ‘Survival Period’.

Are pre-existing conditions covered in International Group Critical Illness Cover?

No, cover is not available for pre-existing conditions, these would be excluded from cover as well as Congenital or Hereditary Conditions, or where the member suffered from an associated condition prior to joining the scheme.

What is the maximum age to be covered on an International Company Critical Illness Insurance?

Typically, the maximum age of cover is 65.

Can children and partners be included on International Group Critical Illness Cover?

Yes, they can be. Cover is often limited at a maximum benefit and the addition will generally attract an increased premium. However, some insurers will offer cover to children for free.

What currency would an International Company Critical Illness Insurance be in?

You can select the currency that you wish to use for the insurance. This will determine the currency in which the premium will be paid and the currency for the payout sum (in the event of a claim). Insurers generally offer a choice between USD, GBP and EUR.

What happens to the lump sum payment of our International Group Critical Illness Cover if I pay my employees in different currencies?

The insurer will use a standard exchange rate when reviewing the requested salary multiples / fixed lump sum to convert multiple currency salaries into the currency chosen for the scheme.


As experts in International Employee Benefits, we help our clients navigate the complexities by providing clear advice to simplify decision-making, lower risk and maximise coverage. We offer support and advice whether you are looking to review an existing International Group Critical Illness Cover or conduct a global benefits audit.

To find out more about how we work, discuss your specific requirements, or request initial pricing, please get in touch via our contact form below or via email [email protected]

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