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 $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 here, which is like ‘critical illness-lite’ – it has the same structure as a critical illness plan, but only covers 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 $275.50 |
|Aviva My Early Critical Illness Plan||Full pay-outs for all stages of diagnosis|
Additional special conditions benefit that can be claimed up to 6 times
Premiums don’t increase with age
|From $1465.20 |
|AXA Super CritiCare||Affordable multi-pay plan|
Total coverage of up to 600% sum assured
Free diabetes care programme
|Starting from $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 $919 |
|AIA Power Critical Cover||175 conditions covered|
‘Pre-early’ plus special benefits (up to 10 claims)
Multi-pay structure with up to 500% total coverage
|From $2,206 |
 For a 35-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of $100,000, renewable term
 For a 35-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of $100,000, to age 75
 For a 35-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of $100,000, to age 75
 For a 35-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of $100,000, to age 85
 For a 35-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of $100,000, to age 75
- FWD Big 3 Critical Illness
- Aviva My Early Critical Illness Plan
- AXA Super CritiCare
- Great Eastern GREAT Family Care
- AIA Power Critical Cover
- 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 $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 $50,000 and goes up to $200,000. This plan also comes with an additional $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.
Aviva My Early Critical Illness Plan – 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.
This plan covers 51 different critical illnesses and offers full payouts for early or intermediate-stage diagnoses (maximum sum assured of $250,000). On top of that, you can also claim an additional benefit (‘Special Benefit’) of up to $25,000 for 18 special conditions – such as angioplasty, diabetes complications – without reducing your basic sum assured amount. You can claim this special benefit up to six times, as long as each is for different conditions.
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.
Starting at $122 a month, this is not the cheapest plan. But 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 the ideal plan 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 $125 a month. It also comes with a complimentary diabetes care programme and a death benefit of $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 $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 $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 Power Critical Cover – Most comprehensive 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 Power Critical Cover.
This is a premium plan, with even the lowest tier starting at over $191 a month. But for that amount, you get coverage against a whopping 175 conditions, including special conditions (i.e. diabetic complications, gout, ADHD and even Autism Spectrum Disorder), which qualify you for special benefit payouts of an additional 20% of sum assured. You can also make up to 10 claims under this benefit, as long as they are for different conditions.
Furthermore, not only can you claim a full payout regardless of the stage of the illness, there is also an additional ‘pre-early’ benefit – totalling 10% of the sum assured – for chronic diseases and benign tumours.
There are two unique features under AIA’s Power Critical Cover: Power Relapse and Power Reset. Power Relapse lets you claim for up to 200% of sum assured for relapses under its five selected critical illnesses, with a 24-month waiting period after the last claim.
The Power Reset allows you to claim for different and subsequent critical illnesses. Do note that like most multiple payout policies, there is a 12-month waiting period and you are eligible to claim up to 500% of the sum assured. As the aforementioned Power Relapse benefit is independent of this feature, it allows you to claim up to a total of 700% of the sum assured when utilised together.
Finally, this plan comes with surrender or maturity benefits as well. If you discontinue the plan at age 75, you will receive 75% of your coverage amount, increasing at a rate of 1% yearly.
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
|$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 $10,000) and a payout of 25% of the sum assured (capped at $25,000) respectively
|PruTripleProtect||Maximum total payout could be as high as $9M, one of the highest in the market|
Option to convert this plan to a whole life policy or endowment plan without medical underwriting
Protects you against Critical Illnesses multiple times of up to 300% sum assured
 For a 30-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of $100,000 with a policy term of 45 years
 For a 35-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of $100,000 with a policy term of 30 years
 For a 30-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of $100,000 with a policy term of 46 years
 For a 30-year old non-smoking female with sum assured of $200,000 with a policy term of up to age 65
 For a 31-year old non-smoking male with sum assured of $100,000 with a policy term of 40 years
- 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 $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$5000.
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 $250,000, and $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 $25,000 in payout.
In the event advance stage critical illness occurs to your child, an additional amount of $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 $100,000, and up to $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 $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 $10,000 and 25% of the sum assured capped at $25,000 respectively.
This policy is offered until age 85, and comes with a death benefit of $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 $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.
PRUTriple Protect: High multiple coverage
With a maximum payout of up to $9 million, PRUTriple Protect has one of the highest payouts on the market today. What’s more, you can remain protected even after making a claim. As the name suggests, with PRUTriple Protect, you can claim for your CI up to three times, giving you a whopping 300% of your sum assured. Other than CIs, it will also cover you against death, total and permanent disability, and medical conditions listed in the special benefit category.
While it has a minimum policy term of 10 years, up to a maximum of 75 years old entry age, PRUTriple Protect can be converted into a whole life policy and endowment plan without medical underwriting, which allows for more flexibility.
Being diagnosed with CI entails more than just medical expenses. It can also cost you your income. With the Crisis Waiver III rider, you will be able to waive all future premium payments upon a successful claim against illnesses covered by PRUTriple Protect. This ensures that you no longer need to worry about premiums after your first claim, and still continue to enjoy the full coverage.
It does have some drawbacks, however. There is a 12-month waiting period between each claim, during which it resets back to 100% of your sum assured. It also does not provide coverage against early stage critical illness. While they have an Early Protector rider which extends the coverage to pre-critical stages, this also adds on to the premium cost.
All in all, PRUTriple Protect is ideal for individuals looking for a comprehensive and high-coverage plan with multiple claims.
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 $256,000 critical illness protection gap.
Read these next:
Changes to Definition of ‘Critical Illness’ in Life Insurance Policies
5 Best Cancer Insurance Plans In Singapore
All The Insurance Terms And Lingo In Your Policy, Explained
5 Critical Things You Need to Know About Cancer Insurance
3 Must-have Insurance Types For The YOLO & FOMO Generation
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.