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HSBC Life to offer critical illness cover for type 2 diabetes

In a great (and long overdue) move from UK insurer HSBC Life, they can now provide critical illness cover for people with type 2 diabetes

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 1 October 2023

5 min read

HSBC Life to offer critical illness cover for type 2 diabetes

It’s pretty unfair, but historically it’s been difficult (even impossible) to buy critical illness cover if you had diabetes. Luckily, changes are being made to improve this and recently HSBC Life have announced their plans to make critical illness cover accessible for people with type 2 diabetes.

I think this is a brilliant (and long overdue) move from HSBC to be more accessible and inclusive for their customers with diabetes. Diabetes is an easily treated and manageable condition, so it’s frustrating that many insurers are still so cautious around applicants with this condition.

This announcement is positive news and hopefully indicates the chance of more providers opting to do the same.

More about HSBC – HSBC Life insurance review

QUCK SUMMARY – HSBC Life critical illness cover now available for type 2 diabetes

It’s great to see a provider like HSBC Life taking steps to make policies more easily accessible for consumers living with diabetes. This indicates positive change in the insurance industry – with hopefully more improvements in the future.

  • HSBC Life are now offering advanced digital underwriting processes and a specially designed nurse screening to make it easier to approve critical illness cover applications from people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Critical illness cover is sadly still not available for people with type 1 diabetes – something that definitely needs to change in the future!
  • Having medical conditions such as diabetes can make it more complicated to get a fair price for insurance policies like critical illness cover. I’d recommend speaking to an insurance specialist for advice if you’re not sure of your best options.

Why has HSBC decided to offer critical illness cover for diabetes?

One thing that works well for consumers is that insurers are always battling to be the best. This means they will periodically assess the products that they have on offer and if they can do better.

HSBC have revitalised the way they assess applications from people with diabetes, making it much easier to assess risk and offer policies that wouldn’t have been available before. Here’s the main changes that HSBC have made:

  1. New technology – HSBC Life now process new screenings digitally which makes it much quicker to work out if they can offer cover. In some cases, you might even be able to get an instant decision about your policy.
  2. No need for NHS records – after attending a nurse screening (HSBC arrange this all for you) you can have cover in place in as little as three days, and with no need to look at your medical records.
  3. They’ve done the research – HSBC Life have been working for over a year to make these changes possible and gathering data. They’ve developed a specific screening with the partner square health which involves a chat about your medical history with a qualified nurse checking your foot pulse and taking a blood test.

Note: This new process is also really helpful for life insurance brokers and advisers too. All medical questions will be handled by a qualified nurse meaning advisors don’t need to ask these questions themselves.

Why has it taken so long for insurers to provide critical illness cover for diabetes?

Let’s be honest it’s taken far too long for most insurers to catch up and improve the products on offer for people with diabetes. Some insurers have put the work in (e.g. Royal London) and definitely lead the way in this area and it’s about time the other insurers do the same.

Previously it was believed that the health risks associated with type 2 diabetes were too much of a risk for insurance companies to offer critical illness cover. With more and more people being diagnosed with diabetes and available treatments and medications becoming better, it’s time that insurance policies caught up.

Can anyone apply for HSBC Life critical illness cover?

HSBC might not be your first thought when looking for critical illness cover, but they’re actually quite good in terms of claims pay outs (95.5% claims approved in 2021).

While HSBC have worked to improve access for type 2 diabetes, there’s still some pretty strict guidelines in place for who will and won’t be eligible for this type of cover. At the minute you must:

  • Have good control over your diabetes symptoms e.g. low HBa1C readings
  • Not have high blood pressure
  • have good levels of blood sugar
  • Not have high cholesterol
  • Not be a smoker

While these rules are a bit restrictive at the moment, it’s still good news to see HSBC Life taking these first steps. Hopefully in the future the rules will become less strict and HSBC can even consider offering cover to type 1 diabetics as well.

Can you buy critical illness cover with type 1 diabetes?

No, at the moment insurers are generally still wary of offering critical illness cover for people with type 1 diabetes. This doesn’t apply just to HSBC Life and these policies aren’t accessible at all.

This is massively unfair and is based around the perceived risk levels for type 1 diabetics and other health issues. There are 4.3 million people with diabetes in the UK and around 8% will have type 1.

I am hopeful that this is something that will become available in the future (from HSBC or another insurer). We’ve always got our eyes out for the latest insurance news and will update our MPO readers as soon as any changes happen.

How does this announcement from HSBC Life help consumers?

It’s always going to be beneficial for consumers to have more options available for them for insurance policies and providers. This is even more important following the news of insurers like Aegon, Canada Life and AIG Life being bought out, giving consumers less choice in available providers.

It’s great to see insurers like HSBC Life reassessing the market and what they can do to improve accessibility for consumers.

It used to be almost impossible to get critical illness cover if you had type 2 diabetes and sadly you still can’t if you have type 1 diabetes. This is something that definitely needs to change and steps like this will hopefully lead the way for more conversations and changes around diabetes and insurance.

How do I find the right diabetes critical illness cover?

Just because HSBC life are now offering critical illness cover type 2 diabetes, this doesn’t mean they’re definitely going to be the right choice for you. Though there still aren’t as many options as we would like to see on the market for diabetics, there will be other providers that it’s worth looking at.

I’d always recommend doing some research before you buy a new insurance policy, especially if you have a medical condition which can make things a bit more complicated. if you’re stuck and not sure what will work best for you, it’s worth getting some proper advice from an insurance specialist.

You can speak to our trusted critical illness cover partners on 0800 009 6559 or click here.

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