Around 227,000 people suffer a heart attack each year and someone has a heart attack every two minutes!

The provision of Group Critical Illness is a great starting point for smaller employers wishing to provide some form of employee protection, but is also ideal for larger employers to complement existing employee benefits packages.

Group critical illness insurance provides a one-off tax-free cash payment to employees, when they have been diagnosed with a serious illness.

The focus is on the financial needs of employees who can use the lump sum towards any expense for example nursing care, clearing existing finance commitments or medical treatment costs. So at least money worries can be reduced, which may help with the best chance of recovery and a return to work.

Group policies vary slightly in the protection offered but typically they pay out upon diagnosis of illnesses such as Heart attack, Cancer, Stroke, or Multiple Sclerosis. The benefit is a P11d Benefit, so scheme members will be taxed accordingly.

As with Group Life, Critical Illness schemes can be set up as a multiple of salary or fixed amount. The scheme can be operated as a traditional group arrangement with family covered also included.

Becoming increasing popular are Voluntary Critical Illness plans, where participating employees pay 100% of contributions, but benefit from the significant cost savings and reduced underwriting requirements compared to purchasing a similar individual product.

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