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Singapore’s Best Critical Illness Insurance (2020)

Critical illness insurance Guide

Critical Illness Insurance Fundamentals

Critical illness insurance, also known as dread disease insurance, pays out a lump sum when a person is diagnosed with a condition covered in the policy contract.

Over 90% of severe stage claims are for five critical illnesses: Cancer, heart attack, stroke, coronary artery bypass surgery, and kidney failure.

 5 Major critical illness cause 90% of claims

But do all the insurance companies cover the same critical illness?


That’s why we have to double check that the conditions we care about are included in the policy contract.

Luckily for us, the Life Insurance Association of Singapore (LIA) created a list of 37 critical illnesses with its standard definitions.

And most mainstream CI policies do provide coverage for them.

Here’s the list of 37 critical illnesses:

Major CancerHeart Attack of Specified Severity
Stroke with Permanent Neurological DeficitCoronary Artery By-pass Surgery
End Stage Kidney FailureIrreversible Aplastic Anaemia
End Stage Lung DiseaseEnd Stage Liver Failure
ComaDeafness (Irreversible Loss of Hearing)
Open Chest Heart Valve SurgeryIrreversible Loss of Speech
Major BurnsMajor Organ / Bone Marrow Transplantation
Multiple SclerosisMuscular Dystrophy
Idiopathic Parkinson’s DiseaseOpen Chest Surgery to Aorta
Alzheimer’s Disease / Severe DementiaFulminant Hepatitis
Motor Neurone DiseasePrimary Pulmonary Hypertension
HIV Due to Blood Transfusion and Occupationally Acquired HIVBenign Brain Tumour
Severe EncephalitisSevere Bacterial Meningitis
Angioplasty & Other Invasive Treatment For Coronary ArteryBlindness (Irreversible Loss of Sight)
Major Head TraumaParalysis (Irreversible Loss of Use of Limbs)
Terminal IllnessProgressive Scleroderma
Persistent Vegetative State (Apallic Syndrome)Systemic Lupus Erythematosus with Lupus Nephritis
Other Serious Coronary Artery DiseasePoliomyelitis
Loss of Independent Existence

*The list above reflects the newest change in the definition that takes place in August 2020

Apart from the list of 37, more insurance companies are also coming in to provide additional coverage against 18 common conditions.

Called “special benefits” or “special conditions”

Conditions covered up to maximum age of 85Conditions covered up to maximum age of 18
Angioplasty and Other Invasive Treatment for Coronary ArteryType I Juvenile Spinal Amyotrophy
Diabetic ComplicationsSevere Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (Stills Disease)
Wilson’s DiseaseSevere Haemophilia
Osteoporosis with FracturesRheumatic Fever with Valvular Impairment
Severe Rheumatoid ArthritisOsteogenesis Imperfecta
MastectomyInsulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus
Chronic Adrenal Insufficiency (Addison's Disease)Kawasaki Disease
Chronic Relapsing PancreatitisGlomerulonephritis with Nephrotic Syndrome
Hysterectomy due to Cancer
Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever

Why do I need Critical Illness Insurance?

CI insurance helps protect loved ones and assets

Getting coverage not only protects you, but also your loved ones, and your assets.

Think of it as paying for the risk of critical illness happening while you are still working.

work to pay for risk of CI

Depending on your lifestyle and genetics, your risk can be higher or lower than ordinary people.

If critical illness were to happen, all these premiums you had been diligently paying will be greatly multiplied and paid out to you in one lump sum.

And you’ll be able to use them in any way you want, be it to pay for bills or support your family.

monies is multiplied for payout

If critical illness didn’t happen, even better.

You only lose out on the premiums paid, which usually makes up only a fraction of your income.

celebrate if theres no ci

But do you really need to cover for this risk?

Let’s see some scenarios where CI payout can come in handy.

6 Scenarios Where CI Insurance Payout Can Come in Handy

1) To Replace Your Income During Treatment and Recovery

If critical illness strikes, it is unlikely that we are able to continue work or find new work.

The lump sum payout will come in handy to replace our income during the treatment and recovery phase.

2) Payout for Medical Bills, Recovery, and Care

If you are a Singaporean or Permanent Resident (PR), Medishield Life will pay for part of your hospital bills.

And you can use the insurance payout to pay for the remaining amount.

We should also consider other expenses such as re-modifying homes, buying medical equipments, hiring a caretaker and so on.

3) To Pay for Ongoing Expenses and Loans

Life goes on even if we are sick and can no longer work.

We still have to pay for daily expenses and continue servicing loans.

An insurance payout can be used to cover all living expenses.

4) Maintaining a Family’s Standard of Living When There’s No Income Coming in

If given a choice, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to lower the quality of life of your loved ones because of an illness.

Having a CI payout preserves the standard of living of those we care about.

5) Provide A Peace of Mind for You and Your Dependents (spouse, child, parents…)

It is an enormous stress relief to know that there is enough money in the bank to cover for all medical and day-to-day expenses.

Without stress and worry, we can focus on recovery and get well faster.

6) Monies to go for alternative treatment

Sometimes treatments are inadequate. 

Some of them harms our body. (like chemotherapy).

And we may want to complement it with other methods such as immunotherapy or massage therapy.

The problem is most insurance policies don’t cover them.

And the fees for some of these treatments are astronomical.

One example is immunotherapy, which is a cancer treatment that boosts our immune system to fight cancer naturally. 

It is said to cost more than $100,000 per patient.

You’ll have no problem going for them if you have a insurance payout.

6 reasons why you need critical illness insurance

So here are the 6 scenarios where CI insurance can come in handy.

No doubt there are some overlaps.

But I wanted to highlight and showcase each of these benefits.

If they make sense in your circumstances, then a CI policy may be right for you.

Do I Need Critical Illness Insurance if I Have a Hospitalization Plan?

It depends.

Medishield Life and the Integrated Shield Plan covers up to 95% of hospital bills (full riders bought before 8th March 2018 covers 100% of hospital bills)

But it does not replace the income that you may lose.

medishield life does not replace income

As mentioned in the 6 scenarios above, critical illness insurance coverage will help pay for living expenses of your family and maintain their standard of living.

So if you family members who depend on you (for e.g. spouse, children, & parents) or have ongoing expenses and liabilities, then you should consider getting yourself a critical illness plan.

medishield life does not replace income

If you’re still unsure, I recommend speaking to a financial planner.

A Qualified planner will be able to analyze your situation and provide sound recommendations.

How Much Critical Illness Coverage Do I Need?

There are 3 methods to find your ideal coverage.

Let’s go through each of them.

Method #1 – Based on Expenses and Debt

According to LIA, “Singaporeans need coverage to provide family needs during the assumed critical illness recovery period of 5 years, or until the insured is able to return to work, or to adjust his or her lifestyle needs. These needs include expenses, outstanding debt payments and lifestyle maintenance less existing insurance coverage for critical illness.”

Let’s put it down in a formula:

 Expenses and debt method -

Here’s an example of a Jim’s expenses:

Monthly ExpensesShared with Wife
Phone Bills - $35Utilities: $60
Parents - $1,000Town Council: $35
Transport: $120Groceries: $70
Food: $400Internet: $22
Income tax per month: $175Mortgage: $750
Insurance premiums: $550Child's allowance: $250

Grand Total: $3,495

1 Year: $41,940


in the example above, Jim will need to have a critical illness insurance coverage of $209,700

Method #2 – Based on Income

This method is much quicker to calculate and accurate.

It’s simply 5 years of your annual income.


income method to calculate ci coverage

This assumes that your income is more than enough to pay for expenses, debts, and provide for dependents.

If it’s not, use method 1 instead.

What I like about this method is that it gives a buffer.

Normally, our income is higher than expenses, with the leftover being saved.

So if I get a critical illness coverage based on income, I will have some extra amount which acts as a buffer.

buffer payout

There’s no hard rule on this one.

You can always get more or less CI coverage depending on how much buffer you want.

Method #3 – Rule of Thumb

This is the easiest method because it doesn’t require any calculation.

LIA recommends that the average Singaporean to have a critical illness coverage of $316,000.

LIA says 316,000 is the avg coverage amount for CI insurance

Average Singaporeans actually have a protection gap of $256,000

Since we all have different circumstances, I’d advise you only use this as a benchmark.

summary of 3 methods calculating critical illness coverage

The 5 Types of Critical Illness Insurance Plans

In the beginning of the article, I mentioned that there are 5 types of critical illness insurance that exist in the market.

Here are they:

  • Advanced Stage Critical Illness Insurance
  • Early Stage Critical illness Insurance
  • Multi Pay (Claim) Critical Illness Insurance
  • Critical Illness Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions
  • Gender-specific Critical Illness Insurance

Which one is suitable for you and your family?

In this section I’ll explain how they work and what kind problems they solve, so you can make a better decision.

Advanced Stage Critical Illness Insurance

These are the oldest in the market and the most straightforward of all.

Advanced Stage Critical Illness Insurance are either standalone or add-on plans that pays you a lump sum upon severe stage diagnosis of the 37 LIA listed critical illness conditions. Some policies have more conditions covered in the policy.

Cancer, the most common reason for claim, kills one in every four Singaporeans.

one in four singaporeans dies of cancer

That’s a lot. 

According to Aviva’s study on two leading critical illnesses, the survival rate is somewhere around 48.5% to 60%, depending on the type of illness and its severity. 

So if CI strikes, it is very unlikely that a person can continue work.

Advanced stage critical illness plans provide coverage to help patients take care of all the expenses so they can focus on recovery.

Early Stage Critical illness Insurance

As technology advances, detection becomes easier and happens earlier.

Not only that, people today start to realize the importance of regular health screenings and take them more seriously.

This naturally leads to more detection during the early stages and gave rise to early stage critical illness plans.

Early Stage Critical Illness Insurance are either standalone or add on plans that pays you a lump sum upon early diagnosis of a condition covered by the insurance policy.

Since there are more cases compared to advanced stage critical illnesses, the prices of early CI plans are much higher.

early ci plans are 3-7x more exp

The good news is that early detection often means better survival rates.

And it’s cheaper to treat.

Those who buy early CI plans also tend to go for regular screenings and keep themselves healthy.

Multi Pay (Claim) Critical Illness Insurance

Multi pay critical illness insurance allows you to make a claim multiple times. They can be used for the same condition as it progresses through the stages, when it relapses, or when a patient is being diagnosed with another critical illness later on.

This means that the coverage will not lapse even after a payout is made.

If a patient recovers but relapses later on, a lump sum payout will be given again.

For most policies, payouts can be given up to 5-7 times, in order to provide a comprehensive coverage.

what is multipay CI

How often is that, You might ask.

To give you an idea, here is the recurrence rate for common cancers:

Breast Cancer: 30% overall (most common cancer among women)

Kidney Cancer: 13% 

Ovarian Cancer: 85%

Prostate Cancer: 24-48% (leading cause of cancer death among men)


That’s why multi pay critical illness plans are gaining massive popularity these days.

And the best part?

It is affordable.

If advanced stage plans are the cheapest, and early stage plans the most expensive, then multi pay plans are right in the middle.

prices of different types of ci plans

If you’re looking for a comprehensive critical illness plan, then multi pay is an excellent choice.

Critical Illness Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions

According to a review from 47 studies, patients who have certain medical conditions have a higher risk of getting critical illness.

Diabetic patients, for example, have a 12-27% increase in risk.

 Those with 3 highs have higher chance of getting CI

That’s why those with certain pre-existing conditions have a hard time buying insurance.

But times have changed.

Now there are plans designed specifically for common pre-existing conditions like the “3 highs”

Currently, those accepted are:

  • Diabetes, type 1 & type 2
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High body mass index
  • Other non-CI related pre-existing conditions, but subjected to underwriting

Gender-specific Critical Illness Insurance

Cancer for male and female

There are conditions that affect specific genders.

Like breast cancer occurs in women and prostate cancer in men. (the opposite is possible, but very rare.)

Apart from those, there are other diseases that happen to a gender more frequently. For example, osteoporosis is 4x more likely in women than men.

Gender-Specific plans provide coverage for a group of diseases that are common to a particular gender.

They supplement other critical illness insurance to provide a comprehensive coverage.

Best Critical Illness Insurance for Each Type

By now, you should have a rough idea of the type of critical illness insurance plan you want to buy.

But there are so many of them in each category.

Which is the best?

We compare them based on cost, value, and features to find the most ideal plan for you.

Jump to…

  1. Best Advanced Stage Critical Illness Plan
  2. Best Early Stage Critical Illness Plan
  3. Best Multi Pay Critical Illness Plan
  4. Best Critical Illness Plan for Pre-Existing Conditions
  5. Best Gender-specific Critical Illness Plan

Best Advanced Stage Critical Illness Plans

Advanced stage critical illness products have very similar features.

So what you really want to compare here is price.

I find that the cheapest way is to get a Aviva’s MyProtector Term Plan + Critical Illness add on.

With their perpetual 20% discount, the price is unbeatable.

🏆 Best Advanced Stage Critical Illness Plan: 

Aviva’s MyProtector Term Plan II + CI add on.

 Aviva my protector term plan

Best Early Stage Critical Illness Plans

There are two types of plans you can consider:

1) Cancer only protection plan

2) Early stage plans that cover major critical illnesses

If you’re looking for a cancer only protection plan, then FWD’s Cancer Insurance does the job. It provides for all stages of cancer at an affordable price.

🏆 Best Cancer Only Insurance Plan: 

FWD’s Cancer Insurance

 fwd cancer insurance

But why would you want cancer protection only?

Apart from being super affordable, cancer accounted for the largest share of claims for critical illness.

And is the #1 killer in Singapore.

Some cancer also runs in the family. For example, the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC).

With FWD’s Cancer insurance, you’ll just need to do one simple health declaration to get full coverage for both early and advanced stage cancer.

What I love most is the ability to get a 2nd opinion for a cancer diagnosis completely free of charge.

But the problem is obvious.

It doesn’t cover other common diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

If you’re looking for an early stage plan that covers more than cancer, I recommend comparing on price while keeping an eye on specific illnesses that you want to cover for.

Because early stage plans are pretty straightforward and the features don’t differ much as well.

🏆 Best Early Critical Illness Insurance: 

Aviva MyEarly Critical Illness

aviva my early critical illness insurance

This plan covers all the important early critical illnesses and has the cheapest premium in Singapore.

Apart from early stage, it covers intermediate and advanced stages as well.

This is a handy feature because a person may be diagnosed with intermediate or advanced stage right away without going through the early stage.

Best Multi Pay (Claim) Critical Illness Plans

Multi pay plans are the most difficult to compare as there are nuances in each feature, some of them being totally different.

We identify features that are crucial and compare them to find the best plan among them.

Here’s what we find:

1) Cheapest Multi Pay Critical Illness Plan

🏆  AXA Super CritiCare

-axa super criticare

2) Get Premiums Back

🏆 Manulife Ready CompleteCare (Cover Me Again)

This plan allows you to get your premiums back even if you make a claim.


Yes, 100% premium refund (less of payouts for claims) when a person passes away.

 manulife ready completecare

3) Most Critical Illness Conditions Covered

🏆 AIA Power Critical

All multi pay plans cover early, intermediate, and advanced stage critical illness.

This plan goes a step further to provide PRE-early stage coverage.

So some common diseases like Type 2 diabetes and severe gout are being covered.

Overall, it provides coverage for 175 types of conditions.

aia power critical cover

4) No Waiting Period – Able to claim if critical illness worsens

🏆 Aviva MyMultiPay CI III

I feel that this is an important point of consideration.

For almost all multi pay plans out there, there is a 12 months waiting period.

That means no payout will be made if a condition turn from early to intermediate stage, or intermediate to advanced stage within 12 months.

No payout will also be made if a person is diagnosed with a separate critical illness within 12 months.

But it’s hard to say, right?

Cancer cells, for example, are unpredictable and may spread very quickly.

It will be devastating if a patient is unable to get a payout because of this reason.

Aviva’s MyMultiPay CI III allows a patient to claim even if the critical illness worsens and advances the very next day.

There is no waiting period.

aviva my multipay ci lll

Here’s a summary of the Multi pay plans:

Best Multi-Pay CI Plans

AXA Super CritiCareManulife Ready CompleteCareAIA Power Critical CoverAviva MyMultiPay CI III
Max Payout / Claim$350,000$250,000$250,000$250,000
Max no. of Claims6 Times5 Times7 Times6 Times
Max Severe Stage Payout1x Sum Assured$350,000$350,000$750,000
Waiting Period12 Months12 Months12 Months0 Months
Special FeatureCheapestPremium RefundCovers 175 ConditionsNo waiting period
Premium$131 / month$171 / month$175 / month$145 / month

Best Critical Illness Plans for Pre-Existing Conditions

There are not many plans providing coverage for pre-existing conditions.

And they tend to accept different types of conditions.

To help you find a suitable one, we list them out based on the pre-existing conditions they accept and show you the coverage being offered.

If you have Type 2 Diabetes/ Pre-diabetes/ High Blood Pressure/ High Cholesterol/ High BMI…

🏆 Aviva MyCoreCI Plan II

This is the most comprehensive critical illness plan for pre-existing conditions.

It covers major critical illnesses, diabetic complications, severe disability, terminal illness, and death.

And to promote a healthy lifestyle, 20% of premiums will be refunded if no claims are made.

 aviva my coreplan2

If you have Type 1 Diabetes…

🏆 Manulife Critical Select Care

This is the only plan in the market that covers type 1 diabetes.

With no loading.

Those with high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol or diabetes can apply.

And there’s also a 25% premium refund if no claims are being made.

manulife criticare

If you have other pre-existing conditions…

🏆 Income Cancer Protect

As long as you have non-cancer related medical conditions, Income may provide coverage but subjected to underwriting.

This is a plain vanilla plan that protects against early and advanced stage cancers.

income cancer protect

Best Gender-specific Critical Illness Plans

For gender-specific plans, there is either a basic plan that does the job, or one that has all the bells and whistles.

Here is my pick…

1) Cheapest Gender-specific CI Plan

🏆 AIA Glow of Life

This plan covers all the essential female cancer and illnesses and is said to cost at least 50% less than other similar plans.

aia glow of life

2) Most Comprehensive Gender-specific CI Plan

🏆 AXA CritiCare For Him/ Her

CritiCare has everything you need. Multiple claims, coverage reset, free checkup, free child cover, and many more.

Even though it may sound expensive, prices are actually reasonable given the value the plan provides.

AXA have versions for both men and women.

axa criticare


I hope this guide was able to help you find the right critical illness insurance for you and your family.

If you have any questions, or want to get a quote, use the contact form below to send them to us.

I’m looking forward to hear from you 🙂

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Critical illness insurance Guide

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