What Types of Insurance You Must Have At Every Life Stage

Sihan Chia

Sihan Chia

Last updated 29 November, 2023

Ask around your peers and chances are, not many can recall what their first insurance policy was, or why they got it. If you need a refresher, here are five key types of insurance everyone should have to protect themselves financially against the unexpected.  

With more Singaporeans purchasing insurance online, getting coverage these days is simply a few clicks away. But do you know which are the essential plans you should be getting to cover your basic healthcare needs or protect your dependants in the event of sudden illness or death?

If you've yet to do your research or speak to an insurance advisor, read on to understand more. Then consider making an appointment with an independent advisor for more holistic financial planning.  

Table of contents:


Start With The Basic Five 

1. Health insurance

What insurance should you get? As a rule, all Singapore citizens are covered by mandatory health insurance known as MediShield Life, which offers basic coverage to help offset medical costs for outpatient and hospitalisation. 

Upon admission at the hospital or for outpatient treatment, patients need to notify the hospital that they wish to claim from MediShield Life. Under MediShield Life, the maximum claim limit per policy year is set at $150,000 with no lifetime limit on claims. More details can be found here

In the event you wish to get more coverage, this is where Integrated Shield plans (IP) come in handy. For instance, MediShield Life covers only enough for B2/C wards at public hospitals. With an IP, you can get covered for a B1 or A ward, or even private hospitals.

While MediShield Life covers hospitalisation and surgeries, it lacks coverage for pre- and post-hospitalisation costs. IPs help to bridge that gap.

Another point to factor in is the claim limit of $150,000 per year, which may not be sufficient considering the cost of healthcare in Singapore. With an IP, the coverage could go up to $2 million.


Looking for an affordable Integrated Shield Plan (IP)? Singlife Shield Starter* covers you with up to S$20,000 per policy year for hospital bills at just S$300 (before GST) fully payable by MediSave — great for young adults who want basic. For more coverage, add on the rider, Singlife Health Plus Starter, at just S$1 (before GST) and reduce co-payment of your hospital bills to just 5%!

*T&Cs apply. This product is underwritten by Singapore Life Ltd. SingSaver is not an insurance agent/intermediary and cannot solicit any insurance business, give advice, recommend any product or arrange any insurance contract. Please direct all enquiries to Singapore Life Ltd. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Who is it for?

Health insurance is one of the most fundamental types of insurance policy you can have, as it covers for any medical bills you incur when you are hospitalised, due to an illness or an accident. 

Most parents would also opt to buy health insurance for their child from as young as a newborn baby! Do note that premiums increase as the insured ages, and you aren't able to 'lock-in' lower rates if you purchase it at a younger age.

2. Term life insurance

Term life insurance covers the insured person for death and permanent disability for a fixed period of time. It is comparatively cheaper than whole life insurance, with some differences outlined in the table below. 

Whole life vs term life insurance 

Considerations Term life insurance Whole life insurance
Purpose  Protection by way of financial security for beneficiaries Protection by way of financial security for beneficiaries & growing cash value
Coverage period Coverage is available as long as the term is active. Terms are usually 10 to 30 years or till the age of 65. Lifetime coverage of up to 99 years
Premium over time Premium remains levelled during the initial term. However, it increases from subsequent terms for annually renewable policies unless otherwise stated. Premium is guaranteed to remain levelled throughout the coverage.
Affordability More affordable Considerably more expensive
Cash value  No cash value Cash value is built over time at a fixed earnings rate
Guaranteed payout upon death Yes Yes
Choice of policy duration Flexible with multiple term options Unavailable
Limited premium payment Usually Payment Period is equal to Policy Period Yes

In Singapore, the Dependants' Protection Scheme is a term insurance automatically extended to you upon your first CPF working contribution if you're a Singapore Citizen (SC) or Permanent Resident (PR) between age 21 and 65. The sum assured is S$70,000 up to age 59, after which it becomes S$55,000 till age 65. 

If you’re wondering whether a whole life policy is worth the investment, it would be beneficial if you’re looking for coverage with cash value up to 99 years. As always, consider your financial situation carefully before making a decision. 

Compare the best term life insurance plans on our site. Get S$1 million coverage for just S$1.49 a day!

Who is it for?

Term life insurance is a great alternative to a whole life insurance plan if you are on a tighter budget. This is great for those who want to be covered for a specific period of time but have a lesser budget to purchase a whole life insurance plan.

Term life insurance policies are also more flexible as you are able to choose your premium term and term of protection, depending on which insurer you purchase the plan from.

Do note that term life insurance plans do not provide a cash value after the policy term ends. If you have dependents and wish to leave behind an inheritance after you pass on, a whole life insurance policy might be a more viable option.

3. Critical illness insurance

If you’re wondering what a critical illness plan covers, the Life Insurance Association of Singapore has a framework for determining the severe stage of 37 critical illnesses

Nobody expects to be struck by a critical illness (CI) but having a CI plan can be lifesaving–statistics from the Life Insurance Association Singapore show that 90% of severe stage claims received by life insurers are for the following five critical illnesses:

  • Major Cancer
  • Heart Attack of Specified Severity
  • Stroke with Permanent Neurological Deficit
  • Coronary Artery By-pass Surgery
  • End Stage Kidney Failure

There are different levels of coverage including CI riders that could be a source of relief not only to you but also your caregivers in times of need. CI plans not only offer coverage for diagnosis, treatment, and death, some insurers also extend the coverage to your dependants. 

The best way is to get more information for you to make a fair comparison before you decide which CI plan is right for you. 

Who is it for?

Critical illness insurance is essential for all ages, as critical illness doesn't discriminate. These policies usually provide a lump sum if you are faced with critical illness.

Most people wouldn't want to burden their family members in the event of a medical emergency, and with a critical illness plan, you will receive a lump sum upon diagnosis that can typically be used for anything — be it medically related or not.

Aside from paying for medical bills, you can also use the lump sum to pay for things like the loss of job of a loved ones if they have decided to quit to take care of you full time, psychiatric treatment, and the list goes on.

4. Personal accident insurance

It is a common notion that only those who have fairly active lifestyles need personal accident insurance. The pandemic has certainly changed that, with most plans offering COVID-19 coverage. Did you also know that personal accident plans also offer coverage for dengue fever, certain infectious diseases, and treatment costs for TCM, physiotherapist or chiropractor? 

While the payout is not huge, you can consider topping up the coverage for disability or death benefit if you don’t have or are not planning to get a life insurance policy. 

Who is it for?

Personal accident insurance plans are typically one of the cheapest of the five, so purchasing one wouldn't be too burdensome on the wallet. As long as you are injured due to an accident, you're able to claim most medical fees incurred!


5. Disability insurance 

Taking care of a growing ageing population is no walk in the park, and the Singapore government created CareShield Life (formerly known as ElderShield) to address this need. 

According to a Long Term Care Study done by Great Eastern, half of the respondents (about 500 surveyed) believe that disability tends to hit mainly older people aged 60 and above. But the scary fact is that along with the rising incidence of debilitating diseases such as stroke and heart attack, patients are getting younger too.

Disability does not discriminate and may happen when you least expect it. An alarming fact is that 4 out of 10 Great CareShield claimants are in their 30s.

For all Singaporeans born in 1980 and later, CareShield Life is a mandatory insurance whereby premiums can be paid through Medisave. To qualify for claims, the insured person must be severely disabled and unable to perform three out of the six ADLs: washing, dressing, feeding, toileting, walking or moving around, and transferring. 

The monthly payouts are fixed at S$617 per month. Needless to say, with long-term care costing up to an estimated S$2,324 per month, the basic coverage would not be enough. 

This makes CareShield Life supplements critical, as the additional coverage can go up to S$5,000 per month, on top of the lump sum benefit provided by the respective private insurers. This helps to take care of rehabilitation costs, lump sum benefit for permanent disability, and loss of income from unemployment.  

Who is it for?

Similar to critical illness plans, disability insurance gives you a payout when you considered to have total and permament disablement (TPD). All Singaporeans aged 30 and above are automatically enrolled into CareShield Life.

But if you wish to receive higher payouts, especially if you have dependents, you miight want to consider purchasing a CareShield Life supplement plan for hgher protection.

The million-dollar question - How much should you be spending on insurance? 

While some finance experts advocate spending not more than a certain percentage of your salary on insurance premiums, this is of course subjective and based on individual needs.

The fact is, insurance coverage protects you and your dependants financially in the event of illness and death. For those supporting their families, the coverage can also be helpful in tiding through difficult circumstances should you be unable to continue providing for them.  

To get some perspective, here’s what some Singaporeans are spending on their insurance portfolios. You can also use a protection gap calculator to determine what is considered adequate coverage based on your life stage.  

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


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