Is dementia covered by insurance?

Chris Steele
Founder and Editor
Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert. He has over a decade of experience writing about private medical insurance and treatment. He's Chartered Insurance Institute qualified and is regularly quoted by the national press.
Chris Steele
Reviewed by
Reviewed by
Updated on
May 8, 2024

A dementia diagnosis can be life-changing, but our ageing population means more people live with dementia. If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed, you may wonder what this means for practicalities, including your insurance coverage. Our guide helps you understand where you stand.

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What is dementia?

Dementia is typically associated with memory loss, but it's more than that. Dementia can impact every aspect of your personality, including speech and behaviour. There are many symptoms, including:

  • Memory loss
  • An inability to think clearly and quickly
  • Difficulty with speaking or finding the right word
  • Problems in understanding what people are saying or what they read
  • Altered mood
  • Challenges with movement or carrying out daily tasks

These symptoms can make social situations difficult for a person with dementia. Their personality may change, which can be distressing for them and their loved ones. However, it's important to remember that while dementia can't be cured, it can be managed with the proper care, particularly if diagnosed at an early stage.

If you or someone close to you has dementia, you can find more information, including support groups, here.

Are there different types of dementia?

There are different types of dementia. The most common types are Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, which typically occurs after a stroke. While they're different conditions, the symptoms are similar.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies is another, less common type. Dementia can also be associated with Parkinson's or Huntington's Disease.

Dementia and insurance

A dementia diagnosis can impact your ability to get insurance and how much your premiums will cost. Here are some of the most common types of insurance and how dementia affects them.

Health insurance

Health insurance provides access to private medical care for acute conditions. The treatment your policy pays for depends on your coverage. Most policies cover inpatient, day patient and cancer treatment. You can add optional extras to give you more comprehensive coverage.

Does health insurance cover dementia?

Unfortunately, health insurance doesn't cover dementia treatment, although it may cover the cost of tests and consultations leading to a diagnosis. Every policy excludes some types of treatment. Some are standard exclusions, while others are based on your medical history.

Chronic conditions

Dementia treatment is excluded from health coverage as it's a chronic condition. Health insurance only covers conditions that will respond to treatment. As doctors can only manage rather than cure dementia, it's automatically excluded from coverage. However, you may be able to seek a diagnosis privately, if you have outpatient cover and it's not seen as a pre-existing condition.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Depending on how your plan was underwritten, health insurance may exclude any condition you were treated for or sought medical advice about during the five years before you had the policy. If you saw your doctor about confusion or memory loss, this could impact the cover your insurer offers.

What conditions can cause similar symptoms?

Memory loss doesn't automatically mean you have dementia. Other illnesses or stressful life events, such as bereavement or moving house, can cause similar symptoms.

Hearing or sight loss can cause confusion or problems with movement because people struggle to follow conversations or read easily. Other conditions, including urinary infections, thyroid problems or a cyst on the brain, also have symptoms which mimic dementia, so getting a proper diagnosis is vital.

You might be able to get a dianosis privately

If your health insurance has outpatient coverage, this can help you reach a quick diagnosis. Outpatient cover can fund appointments with a consultant neurologist, tests and scans to confirm whether you have dementia.

Depending on the diagnosis, your health insurance may cover your treatment, for example, if it can be treated with surgery. If you're diagnosed with dementia or another chronic condition, you'll have a confirmed diagnosis to take to your GP so they can arrange NHS care.

Life insurance

Life cover pays a lump sum to your loved ones when you die. There are some exclusions on life insurance policies, but these typically relate to the cause of death. For example, if you commit suicide, your policy won't pay out.

People can live with dementia for many years, meaning it can be hard to think of it as a terminal illness. However, it causes changes in the brain and can affect the immune system, so infections such as pneumonia become more common.

If you already have dementia, you likely won't be able to get new life cover. However, if you already have coverage and die due to dementia or a related illness, your policy will pay out.

Can a family history of dementia affect my ability to get life insurance?

When you apply for a life insurance policy, your provider will ask for details of your family's medical history. However, according to the Alzheimer's Society, most types of dementia aren't hereditary, so they shouldn't limit your ability to get coverage or increase your premiums.

The only potential exceptions are where there is a family history of Huntington's Disease, frontotemporal dementia or Familiar Prion disease. These can be genetic. The ABI's code of conduct  states that an insurer can't ask you to have genetic testing as a condition of providing coverage. However, if you've had a test for Huntingdon's disease and want life insurance paying more than £500,000, they can ask for your results.

Income protection insurance

Income protection insurance pays a monthly income of between 50% and 70% of your usual salary when you can't work because of illness or injury. The policy will keep paying until you either return to work or retire, whichever is sooner.

If you already have income protection coverage and are subsequently diagnosed with dementia, your coverage will continue for as long as you can pay the premiums. However, it's unlikely you'll be able to take out a new policy if you already have a dementia diagnosis.

Will income protection cover pay if I need to retire early because of dementia?

If dementia affects your ability to work, your policy will keep paying until you reach your chosen retirement age, or your chosen maximum claim length.

As with many types of insurance, it's worth looking for suitable coverage well before you retire. Many providers don't accept new income protection applicants over 60, but others will accept you until you reach 70.

Critical illness insurance

Critical illness cover pays a lump sum if you're diagnosed with a serious illness. You can use the money however you choose, from paying bills to funding adaptations to your home or care if your condition causes an ongoing disability. You can buy critical illness cover as a single policy or add it to your life cover.

Critical illness cover only pays out once, and then your coverage ends.

Does critical illness insurance cover dementia?

Yes. Most insurers class dementia as a critical illness. If you have a quote for critical illness cover and want to ensure it covers dementia, it's vital you check the small print.

If you already have dementia when you apply for critical illness cover, your application will likely be refused.

Dementia and later life insurance

The UK has an ageing population, meaning that illnesses typically associated with later life, such as dementia and Alzheimer's, are becoming more prevalent. Families and the social care system are under mounting pressure due to increasing demand for care, whether at home or in a care setting. Insurers are beginning to look at ways to support people with the effects of dementia and old age.

How does dementia and later life cover work?

Vitality has introduced later life and dementia insurance in conjunction with their serious illness cover (their version of a critical illness policy). When the serious illness term ends, their later life cover automatically begins, paying a lump sum to customers diagnosed with conditions including dementia, Parkinson's Disease or stroke. Unusually, the policy can pay out more than once if your condition worsens. The amount of coverage the policy offers is linked to the coverage left on your serious illness policy.

While dementia coverage is currently only available with other policies, we think this is a step in the right direction.

Can you get travel insurance with a dementia diagnosis?

Getting travel insurance can be a challenge if you have any pre-existing conditions. However, a few specialist providers offer coverage to people with dementia. Insurance can give you peace of mind, knowing that you'll be covered if dementia means you must cancel your holiday or need medical care while you're away.

If you have an existing policy and are diagnosed with dementia, you must tell your insurer and check whether you're still covered. It can be tempting to wait until your policy renews to update your insurer. However, if your dementia results in a claim on your policy while you're away, your insurer may decline your claim. It could also impact your ability to get coverage in the future.

Having dementia can mean you pay more for your coverage or have a smaller choice of providers. Talking to a specialist broker can help you to find the right policy.

Potential restrictions on travel insurance

When you have dementia, getting travel insurance can be more difficult, but not impossible. You may find that your provider puts additional conditions on your policy because of your diagnosis.

When you apply for coverage, your insurer will likely ask for details about your diagnosis and what medication you're taking. The information you provide helps them assess the risk you'll claim so they can decide whether to offer coverage and how much your premiums will be.

Some insurers will only offer a single-trip policy rather than a multi-trip one. There may also be restrictions on the length of the trip and age limits on who can apply.

Get in touch

Dementia can affect your ability to find appropriate coverage, but talking with a specialist broker can help you understand your options. MyTribe guides provide information to help you learn more about insurance and understand ways to find the right coverage for your needs.

Get in touch for a comparison quote, and we'll put you in touch with a regulated broker for tailored advice.

Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.

This article was written by:
Chris Steele
Founder and Editor

Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert. He has over a decade of experience writing about private medical insurance and treatment. He's Chartered Insurance Institute qualified and is regularly quoted by the national press.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a dementia diagnosis impact the insurance coverage I can get?

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If you already have a diagnosis, you'll likely be unable to buy a new life insurance, income protection or critical illness policy. However, any policies you already have should still provide cover and payout when needed.

Does health insurance cover dementia care?

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No. Dementia is a chronic illness that needs long-term management, and health insurance excludes all chronic conditions. Your health insurance can help you to get a diagnosis if you have appropriate coverage.

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