When you want protection that goes beyond just covering your medical costs, critical illness insurance is the logical choice. But with so many options out there, which ones are best for you? We investigate in this article.
In a nutshell, critical illness insurance is insurance that gives you a lump sum pay-out upon diagnosis of specific critical illnesses. It can be considered as a supplement to health insurance, which sticks to covering your medical costs, but cannot compensate you for any loss of income – for instance, if you are forced to take time off work or have additional expenses (i.e transport costs to the hospital, health supplements, mental wellness sessions, etc) incurred.
That’s where critical illness insurance comes in. Although it is a ‘supplement’, it is a very important one. A Straits Times article based on a LIA survey found that the average Singaporean has a critical illness insurance gap of S$256,000. That number is essentially the estimated ‘lost earnings’ from having to take time off work to recover from an illness.
In short, if you are worried about potentially losing income or savings from contracting a major illness, consider getting critical illness insurance. We’ve picked out five plans, with each one being the winner in their respective categories.
(Note: We will not be including cancer insurance plans here. These are ‘critical illness-lite’, having the same structure as a critical illness plan, but only covering cancer. If you’re looking for the top cancer insurance picks, check out this article instead.)
|Critical Illness Insurance Plan||Highlights||Annual Premium|
|FWD Big 3 Critical Illness||Highly affordable premiums|
Additional S$20,000 death benefit
Full payout for all stages of cancer, Heart Attack of Specified Severity or Stroke with Permanent Neurological Deficit
|Starting from S$275.50 |
For a sum insured of S$200,000: Use the promo code FATHERSDAY to get 30% off your annual premiums. Valid from 14 – 22 June 2021. T&Cs apply.
|Aviva My Early Critical Illness Plan II||Full payouts for all stages of diagnosis|
Additional special conditions benefit that can be claimed up to 6 times
Benign and Borderline Malignant Tumour Benefit grants an additional payout upon complete surgical excision (benign) or diagnosis (borderline malignant)
Premiums don’t increase with age
|From S$1,052 |
|AXA Super CritiCare||Affordable multi-pay plan|
Total coverage of up to 600% sum assured
Free diabetes care programme
|Starting from S$1,428 |
|Great Eastern GREAT Family Care||Free coverage for your children up to 25% sum assured (plus 25 juvenile conditions)|
Affordable premiums for level of coverage
Riders can be purchased to extend coverage to parents
|From S$919 |
|AIA Beyond Critical Care||104 conditions covered (upon inclusion of riders)|
100% Refund of Premium benefit refunds you a lump sum upon policy expiry
Mental well-being benefit covers 5 prominent mental illnesses
|From S$3,411 |
 For a 35-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of S$100,000, renewable term
 For a 35-year old non-smoking female with sum assured of S$100,000 to age 65
 For a 35-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of S$100,000 to age 75
 For a 35-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of S$100,000 to age 85
 For a 30-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of S$100,000 to age 85
- FWD Big 3 Critical Illness
- Aviva My Early Critical Illness Plan II
- AXA Super CritiCare
- Great Eastern GREAT Family Care
- AIA Beyond Critical Care
- 5 more bonus CI options
FWD Big 3 Critical Illness – Best basic critical illness plan
If you are looking for something more extensive than cancer insurance, but don’t want to pay the costs associated with most critical illness plans, then FWD’s Big 3 Critical Illness is for you. It is a ‘basic’ plan that only covers Singapore’s big three killers: cancer, heart attack, and stroke.
The main appeal of this plan is its cost, with premiums as low as S$24 a month. If you want wider coverage, you can always purchase a rider to cover an additional 24 conditions that affect your brain or heart function. The sum assured starts at S$50,000 and goes up to S$200,000. This plan also comes with an additional S$20,000 death benefit. This policy is offered on a renewable basis until age 85. This means that the premium will increase year on year as you renew, but the good news is that the renewal is guaranteed without further underwriting.
That said, keep in mind again that this is a basic plan. The heart attack must be of a specified severity and the stroke has to be one that leaves a permanent neurological deficit (A.K.A. brain damage) to qualify for the payout.
But if you want something that is bare bones and low cost, this is a good plan for you. On the plus side, it does offer the full payout for all stages of cancer.
FWD Big 3 Critical Illness Promotion:
Use the promo code FATHERSDAY to get 30% off your annual premiums. Valid from 14 – 22 June 2021. T&Cs apply.
Aviva My Early Critical Illness Plan II – Best early-stage coverage
When people think of ‘critical illness’ and ‘early stage’, the first thing that comes to mind is cancer. But cancer is not the only critical illness that can be diagnosed early. There are many others: Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s are three such examples, and they are all covered under Aviva’s My Early Critical Illness Plan II.
This plan covers 132 conditions across various stages of critical illnesses and offers full payouts for early or intermediate-stage diagnoses. On top of that, you can also claim an additional benefit (‘Special Benefit’) of up to S$25,000 for 27 special conditions – such as angioplasty, severe haemophilia – without reducing your basic sum assured amount. You can claim this special benefit up to six times, as long as each is for a different condition.
This policy offers lifetime coverage, up to age 99 (the ‘Special Benefit’ is only up to age 18/85 depending on the medical condition). Furthermore, your premiums won’t increase with age, giving you better visibility when managing your finances.
Aviva’s My Early Critical Illness Plan II has the edge over its predecessor by including two new benefits as well: the Intensive Care Benefit and Benign and Borderline Malignant Tumour Benefit. Both grant payouts identical to the Special Benefit, which makes things easy to understand.
For the former benefit, a payout is made should you be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for 4 days at least. For the latter, a payout is made either upon a complete surgical excision of a benign tumour with suspected malignancy or diagnosis of a borderline malignant tumour.
Starting at approximately S$88 a month, this plan is competitively priced. And if you want to ensure you can get a cash infusion the moment you are diagnosed with a critical illness – regardless of the stage – this might be ideal for you.
AXA Super CritiCare – Best multi-pay critical illness plan
A multi-pay critical illness plan essentially allows you to receive more than one payout, meaning your total coverage will actually be a multiple of your sum assured. AXA Super CritiCare – our top pick for this category – for example, gives you coverage totalling up to 600% of your sum assured.
This type of insurance gives you better peace of mind with many critical illnesses being recurrent; you’ll receive 100% of the sum assured in payouts not just for advanced stages, but also the early and intermediate stages.
While this sort of structure is more comprehensive, it does come with higher costs. However, AXA Super CritiCare is one of the most affordable multi-pay plans on the market – a big reason it makes this list – with premiums starting from S$125 a month. It also comes with a complimentary diabetes care programme and a death benefit of S$10,000.
That said, there are limitations you should be aware of. The maximum policy age is only 75, and there is a 12-month waiting period between each claim. Furthermore, the total amount payable for the ‘big three’ conditions – cancer, heart attack, and stroke – is capped at 300% of the sum assured, and the waiting period is also extended to 24 months.
In short, AXA Super CritiCare is a great plan for those looking for the next level in their critical illness plan while still prioritising affordability. This plan tries to strike that balance, and for the most part, it succeeds.
Great Eastern GREAT Family Care – Best for protecting your whole family
What if you’re looking beyond yourself to get critical illness protection for the whole family? Great Eastern’s GREAT Family Care might be the answer, being the first multi-generational critical illness plan in Singapore that gives you coverage against 53 critical illnesses.
The family protection part comes in the form of free coverage for your children up till age 18, with each one getting 25% of your sum assured (up to S$50,000 per child). It includes coverage for 53 critical illnesses and an additional 25 juvenile conditions.
If you want to include your parents in the plan as well, you can purchase a rider (‘Parent Protect’) that will give your parents coverage of 15% of your sum assured (covering major cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s) up until they turn 100. No medical assessment is needed.
Although the coverage can extend to multiple family members, premiums are still affordable, starting at S$77 a month. However, do take note that the payouts do not cover early stage diagnoses, which is to be expected given the level of coverage versus its cost. In short, if you are looking for an affordable way to cover your whole family at once, you should seriously consider Great Eastern’s GREAT Family Care.
AIA Beyond Critical Care – A holistic critical illness plan
Thus far, we have rated affordability as a strong factor when determining which plans should be included in this list. That makes perfect sense for most – but not for everybody. What about someone whose level of coverage is the most important factor? If that sounds like you, then you should look at AIA’s Beyond Critical Care.
This is a pricey plan no doubt, with premiums reaching S$300 per month should you decide to include riders such as Early Critical Cover Extra and Early Critical Protector Waiver of Premium. However, these just enhance a policy that is already well-rounded and includes benefits that many would find essential today.
Firstly, policyholders age 21 years and above are granted a health screening benefit of up to S$200 once every three years. This begins from the fourth policy year onwards and provides additional encouragement for you to schedule regular checkups.
Secondly, the policy’s pioneering mental well-being benefit allows you to make a maximum of five claims up to age 75. Five mental illnesses are covered by this benefit, including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Major Depressive Disorders. Each claim is capped at S$50,000 and there is a waiting period of 3 years between each one. Additionally, there is a limit of S$150,000 for mental health claims across all AIA policies.
If you require a critical illness plan that is an all-rounder, AIA’s Beyond Critical Care is the one for you. And despite its higher premiums, do note that a 100% refund will be paid out upon policy expiry, less any claims made of course.
5 more plans worth a critical look
Since August 2020, the definitions of critical illnesses have been changed to express the coverages more clearly. While current policyholders are not impacted by this latest development, it has certainly drummed up interest by individuals who are yet to be covered by such plans.
Here are five more critical illness plans for you to consider, in case you need to cast a wider net in terms of conditions or stages covered.
|TM Multicare||10 Special Conditions and 10 Juvenile Conditions coverage|
Maximum payout can be up to 900% of Sum Assured
Death Benefit is 10% of sum assured, unlike other plans which offer a fixed nominal payout
|Aviva’s My MultiPay Critical Illness Plan IV||Maximum Payout up to 900% of Sum Assured|
Receive additional 20% of Sum Assured under Intensive Care Benefit
Receive additional 100% of Sum Assured upon first Severe Stage Critical Illness benefit claim under Advance Care Option Benefit
|S$1,187 per year |
|Manulife’s Ready CompleteCare||Coverage resets every 12 months for Critical Illness benefit|
Complimentary Health check up every 2 years
Additional Major Critical Illness Benefit of 200% sum assured is claimable for 6 major advanced stage illnesses
|GE’s Critical Care Advantage||No waiting period between claims. Applies for different illnesses or more severe stages of the same illness.|
Premium waiver benefit allows you to not have to pay for premiums after claim for early/intermediate stage illness
Special Benefits: ‘Cancer Recovery at Intermediate Stage’ and ‘Cancer Recovery at Critical Stage’, which offer a payout of 10% of the sum assured (capped at S$10,000) and a payout of 25% of the sum assured (capped at S$25,000) respectively
|PruActive Protect||Coverage up to age 100|
Highly customisable, with up to 6 benefits that can be added on
Affordable premiums due to policy’s modular nature
 For a 30-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of S$100,000 and policy term of 45 years
 For a 35-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of S$100,000 and policy term of 30 years
 For a 30-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of S$100,000 and policy term of 46 years
 For a 30-year old non-smoking female with sum assured of S$200,000 and policy term of up to age 65
 For a 24-year old non-smoking female with sum assured of S$100,000 and policy term till age 85
- TM Multicare
- Aviva’s My MultiPay Critical Illness Plan IV
- Manulife’s Ready CompleteCare
- GE’s Critical Care Advantage
TM Multicare: Highest early stage critical illness payout
Oftentimes, the earlier a disease is diagnosed, the higher the chances of it being cured or successfully managed. With this lump sum payout, you have more options open if you are diagnosed with an early stage illness, such as seeking alternative medical treatments or deciding to take time off work to focus on recovery.
TM Multicare also offers a decent coverage for intermediate and advanced stages of CI. Covering 109 different stages of CIs, there are multiple payouts for early, intermediate and advanced stage critical illnesses, with a total payout of up to 900% of the sum assured. It also boasts additional coverage for 10 special conditions and 10 juvenile conditions –– such as osteoporosis and severe hemophilia –– with up to 20% coverage (capped at S$25,000).
It is important to note that the claim structure of TM Multicare can be quite complex. While a payout of 900% is possible, there are multiple restrictions, such as waiting periods between claims and limitations on the number of claims that can be made per category of CI. Additionally, the plan has grouped cancer and illness related to other major organs in the same category, which could be limiting. The protection term is also relatively inflexible, only offering coverage till ages 70, 75, or 85.
This plan is pricier than many others, including those on this list. However, it also comes out on top in terms of highest early stage CI payout, with up to two claims and no waiting period in between. This makes it an excellent choice for individuals who go for regular checkups.
Aviva’s My MultiPay Critical Illness Plan IV: Payout at any stage of critical illness
We’ve covered multi-pay critical illness plans before, and we found another one that managed to impress us. Multi-pay plans are essentially plans that allow you to make multiple claims, therefore receiving more than one payout. If you’re looking for a long-term plan to take on the financial burden of CIs, particularly recurring ones, this might be the one for you.
This Aviva plan was designed to protect policyholders by giving them the option of making multiple claims for conditions across different stages as well as recurring critical illnesses. With 132 conditions and recurrence of 6 specified critical illnesses, including recurrent heart attack of specified severity and repeated coronary artery by-pass surgery, covered, you get up to 900% of sum assured.
In addition, you can opt for the Advance Care Option to convert your recurrent critical illness benefit to an extra 100% of sum assured. However, once you exercise this Advance Care Option, the recurrent critical illness benefit will cease.
You will also receive an additional 20% of sum assured upon a complete surgical excision of a benign tumour (suspected malignancy), or upon diagnosis of a borderline malignant tumour, with a cap of S$25,000 per life. This is under the Benign and Borderline Malignant Tumour Benefit. The Intensive Care Benefit also allows you to receive an additional 20% of sum insured with a cap of S$25,000 per life.
Coverage term ranges from 10 years to a maximum age of 99 years. It also comes with a death benefit – a lump sum payout of S$5,000.
Do note that while there are multiple benefits, there are restrictions that can trigger the ceasing of the aforementioned benefits. In addition, there is a cap on how many times claims can be made for different categories of conditions. For instance, both the tumour and intensive care benefit can only be claimed once.
Overall, this plan is a decent safety net for you as it ensures that you get multiple cash infusions no matter which stage of CI you are diagnosed at.
Manulife’s Ready CompleteCare: Multiple claims and full premium refund
Here’s another plan that allows you to make more than one claim while staying flexible. Manulife’s Ready CompleteCare covers a decent range of 106 conditions and critical illnesses for all stages. For early stage, coverage comes up to S$250,000, and S$350,000 for the intermediate stage, with coverage (less any additional payout benefits) subjected to a maximum payout of 500% of basic sum insured.
In addition, it also covers an extra 18 special conditions for up to six claims (bearing in mind that each condition can only be claimed once), each claim can allow up to S$25,000 in payout.
In the event advance stage critical illness occurs to your child, an additional amount of S$10,000 will be paid out. This does not reduce your total sum assured. Policyholders also get a bonus free health check every two years; if you do not wish to go for your health check, you can alternatively transfer it to another loved one.
Because of the nature of this plan, the claim structure may be a little tricky to understand. This plan separates its coverage into the basic core coverage and a ‘Cover Me Again’ coverage, which allows you to restart your coverage after you have made a claim. Basically, under this option, after receiving payout(s), your coverage continues for other critical illnesses and recurring cancer. Coverage will be restarted to 100% of basic sum insured after 12 claim-free months from the last critical illness claim. This is subject to a maximum payout of 500% of basic sum insured. Under the ‘Cover Me Again’ option, you also receive 200% of sum insured for six major advanced stage critical illnesses, and 100% of sum insured (capped at 200%) for subsequent advanced stage major cancer conditions, courtesy of the recurring cancer benefit.
Manulife’s monthly premiums are pretty competitive, considering that it offers a full premium refund (minus past claim payouts) in the event of death. If you are able to get past the complex claim structure, its comprehensive coverage and flexible add-ons like critical waiver coverage and payor benefit could just make it the right plan for you.
GE’s Critical Care Advantage: No waiting period between claims
How often do you get access to comprehensive insurance plans with no waiting periods between claims? With this plan, policyholders can receive timely payouts that may open up better treatment options for you.
Great Eastern’s Critical Care Advantage boasts an extensive coverage of 122 medical conditions, with payouts for critical illness across all stages of diagnosis. For early stages, you can receive payouts of up to S$100,000, and up to S$200,000 for intermediate stages. On top of basic cover, you can receive extra payouts for seven special benefits, including Diabetic Complications, Severe Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, Crohn’s Disease and Cancer Recovery of up to S$185,000.
Within the Cancer Recovery special benefit category, ‘Cancer Recover at Intermediate Stage’ and ‘Cancer Recovery at Critical State’ offer payouts of 10% of the sum assured capped at S$10,000 and 25% of the sum assured capped at S$25,000 respectively.
This policy is offered until age 85, and comes with a death benefit of S$15,000 during the policy term, as well as a waiver of future premiums when your claim for early or intermediate stage illness is approved. Note that this waiver benefit is not applicable for approved claims made for the special benefits category.
The tradeoff for this policy is that the maximum payouts for early stage and intermediate stages of diagnosis are not as high as some of the policies in the market. In addition, the amounts of payout are capped at S$25,000 for each special benefit. In addition, it is the most expensive plan on this list, but for those who are willing to spring for a better-than-basic plan that offers more breadth in terms of coverage, this plan seems to have you well-covered. Aside from its wide coverage, the absence of a waiting period is definitely another huge draw.
PRUActive Protect: Highly customisable to suit your needs
Insurance coverage, like our lives, should never be static. Your needs are different at every life stage and coverage should increase and decrease alongside your number of dependents.
Prudential recognises this and its PRUActive Protect critical illness plan is highly customisable to ensure that coverage is always sufficient.
Although the base plan only covers 37 critical illnesses such as Alzheimer’s Disease and end stage liver failure, remember that you’re given the option to boost coverage throughout your policy’s term. Supplementary benefits that can be tacked on include Early Protect (grants coverage against early stage critical illnesses) and Life Protect Plus (additional lump sum payout upon death for up to 100% of your basic critical illness coverage).
The policy term itself is customisable as well, ranging from 10 to 99 years. And if you’re a parent and purchase this policy alongside your spouse, you’ll be glad to know that you children receive a complimentary Child Cover Benefit. This protects them against 36 critical illnesses and 9 juvenile conditions.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
Similarly, a dollar of protection could be worth a hundred in costs. Don’t underestimate the havoc a critical illness can wreak on your finances – even if all your medical costs are covered.
Opportunity costs from potentially lost income must be factored in as well, making critical illness insurance a wise choice, especially given the S$256,000 critical illness protection gap.
Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.
Note: This is only product information provided. You may wish to seek advice from a qualified adviser before buying the product. If you choose not to seek advice from a qualified adviser, you should consider whether the product is suitable for you. Buying an insurance product that are not suitable for you may impact your ability to finance your future healthcare needs.
If you decide that the policy is not suitable after purchasing the policy, you may terminate the policy in accordance with the free-look provision, if any, and the insurer may recover from you any expense incurred by the insurer in underwriting the policy.
Read these next:
Critical Illness vs Cancer Insurance Plans: A Critical Comparison
Critical Illness Plans vs Early Critical Illness Plans: Which Should You Get
Changes to Definition of ‘Critical Illness’ in Life Insurance Policies
5 Best Cancer Insurance Plans In Singapore
5 Critical Things You Need to Know About Cancer Insurance
By Michael Chang
He loves to play games but is forced to be an adult – life is no Nintendo game. He is often torn between shopping on Amazon Prime and Shopee.
By Ian Lee
Ian is a former investment banker turned freelance financial and investment writer. He specialises in creating versatile finance content for the attention economy on topics ranging from personal finance and investing to fintech and cryptocurrencies.