Serious illnesses can strike when least expected, even in the most health-conscious and fittest of individuals.
Mr Daniel Lum, director of product and marketing at Aviva Singapore, notes that each day here, 36 people are told that they have cancer, up by 17 per cent from 2010.
About one in 10 people gets multiple cancers in their lifetime. Stage 3B breast cancer patients face a 70 per cent to 90 per cent recurrence within 10 years, while 80 per cent of colorectal cancer patients are subsequently diagnosed with liver cancer. "Kidney failure cases are just as scary, with Singapore having the fourth highest incidence of kidney failure in the world. Every day, 4.7 new kidney patients were diagnosed, which means over 1,700 cases of kidney failure a year," he adds.
It is no wonder that more people are waking up to the importance of buying critical illness cover that provides a lump-sum payout upon diagnosis of a covered medical condition. Many are also considering multi-pay-type plans that allow for more than one claim on critical illness coverage.
Financial experts advise that it is prudent to buy such plans when one is still healthy. And bear in mind that the premium rates are not guaranteed and may be adjusted based on future experience.
The Sunday Times highlights five critical illness plans. Premiums are higher for plans that allow for multiple claims.
AIA TRIPLE CRITICAL COVER
AIA Triple Critical Cover has a "power reset" feature that allows you to restore your cover amount to 100 per cent after the diagnosis of a covered critical illness. This is the time that coverage becomes very expensive or impossible to obtain.
There is a waiting period of 12 months from the time you are diagnosed before the cover can be reset. You can make multiple critical illness claims up to 300 per cent.
Another key feature is its cover of 104 critical illness conditions across all stages - early, intermediate and major. While providing coverage for whole of life, Triple Critical Cover also provides customers with the option to discontinue the plan at a later duration for a cash value, in addition to providing a maturity lump sum at age 100.
Assuming a coverage amount of $100,000, you can receive $75,000 in cash value if you terminate your plan on or after the 60th policy anniversary or on or after age 75 (whichever is earlier). You will receive $100,000 if you hold your plan until maturity at age 100.
There is also a death benefit up to 100 per cent of sum assured.
AVIVA'S MY MULTIPAY CRITICAL ILLNESS PLAN
It provides you with up to five lump-sum payouts upon diagnosis of a critical illness across early, intermediate or severe stages, including up to two payouts if re-diagnosed with cancer.
It gives a total benefit payout of up to 500 per cent of the chosen sum assured. An additional 20 per cent of your sum assured is payable upon diagnosis of any one of 18 conditions, such as diabetes.
There is a lump-sum payout of $5,000 in the event of death and you can have all your future premiums waived upon diagnosis of a severe-stage critical illness.
GREAT EASTERN'S (GE) CRITICAL CARE ADVANTAGE
The plan offers lump-sum payouts at the early, intermediate and critical stages, covering up to 85 medical conditions under 37 different critical illnesses.
Critical Care Advantage provides a payout of up to $300,000 to cover both early and intermediate stages of each covered critical illness. There is additional coverage of up to $185,000 for seven special benefits, such as cancer recovery and diabetic complications.
The policy term is up to the age of 85 and the protection cover is up to $3 million. Unlike other critical illness plans, you can make multiple claims with no waiting period between submissions of claims. This applies across different critical illnesses or more severe stages of the same illness.
This way, any possible hold-up in treatment due to delayed payments will be the least of your worries as you focus on recovery, says Ms Myra Pang, head of customer propositions and marketing at GE.
Critical Care Advantage provides payouts after the insured person survives for seven days after diagnosis of the covered condition. That's one of the shortest survival periods; the norm is 14 to 30 days.
There is also a waiver of future premiums upon your first claim on a covered critical illness. A death benefit of $15,000 is provided during the policy term.
MANULIFE READY COMPLETECARE (COVER ME AGAIN FEATURE)
Launched recently, Manulife's Ready CompleteCare offers the most comprehensive coverage across early, intermediate and advanced stages for 106 conditions.
The plan comes with a "cover me again" feature that restores coverage to 100 per cent of basic coverage after 12 claim-free months from the last critical illness claim.
This is subject to a maximum payout of 500 per cent of basic sum assured for critical illness.
Given life expectancy and advancements in medical science leading to early diagnosis, Manulife believes this benefit will help customers to get coverage right from the early stages and for multiple critical illnesses.
The plan offers an additional major critical illness benefit that pays 200 per cent for six advanced-stage critical illnesses, as well as a recurring cancer benefit that pays 100 per cent for subsequent advanced- stage major cancers.
The plan also provides extra coverage of 20 per cent of the coverage amount (capped at $25,000 per condition) for up to six claims on diagnosis across 18 conditions, such as osteoporosis with fractures and den- gue haemorrhagic fever, which can be particularly expensive to treat.
Premiums paid will be refunded upon death, less any claim payouts. There is free child cover that amounts to $10,000 per child in the event of any 36 advanced critical illness capped at $20,000 per policy. Also, policyholders receive a free health check every two years.
TOKIO MARINE'S TM PROTECT CANCER PLAN
Mr James Tan, chief executive of Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore, says cancer is the top cause of death here, with around one in three dying of it.
Cancer may also lead to a loss of income as patients often need to take a break from their work to recover.
Upon diagnosis of early-stage cancer, TM Protect Cancer provides a payout of 50 per cent of the sum assured, which policyholders can use to explore alternative medicine or treatment options that may not be covered by regular medical insurance plans.
The policy will continue to remain in force even after the payout, with a reduction in both premiums and sum assured.
Upon diagnosis of advanced- stage cancer, the plan provides a payout of the full sum assured, in a single lump sum.
TM Protect Cancer is available to those with non-cancer related health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. To sign up, simply provide responses to seven health-related questions.
No medical examination or supplementary questionnaire is required. The maximum sum assured is $150,000.