Critical illness insurance is a relatively new type of policy that is frequently misunderstood. Today, we will clarify what it is, and what it covers.
How Does Critical Illness Insurance Work?
Critical illness is similar to term life insurance, except it is paid out when you are diagnosed with an illness covered by the policy, rather than being paid out upon death. However, some people confuse this type of insurance with disability insurance, which substitutes your income if you become disabled.
Illness insurance, like term life insurance, is paid in a lump sum, should you be diagnosed with a pre-defined disease such as cancer. You decide how this amount will be spent – some people put it into additional medical treatment (especially if there are some treatment methods that are not covered by provincial healthcare), others decide to take time off work to spend with family, or to travel.
As with many insurance products, this type of insurance plan comes with an extensive insurance quote, application and underwriting process that the insurer analyzes before you can get a policy; and as with any insurance policy, a critical illness policy comes with both pros and cons.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of this type of insurance.
Pros of Critical Illness Insurance
There are several positive aspects:
- Funds that can help where needed: The lump sum you receive if you are diagnosed with a critical illness will allow you to get better treatment and, hopefully, fully recovery in some cases. You can also spend these funds on other needs or projects (such as travel or taking items off your bucket list).
- Protection for your own business: If you have your own business, you might need to work part time, after being diagnosed with a critical illness (reduced work hours are common when extensive medical treatment is required). It closes the financial gap created by your reduced hours at your company. With the funds, you could hire somebody to help out with your business.
- Stackable protection: Unlike disability insurance, critical illness coverage is “stackable”. With disability insurance, coverage is limited because it is based on your income, and you cannot go over that limit even if you have several disability policies. You can, though, have several policies with varying coverage amounts of different diseases. If you have, for example, two policies with benefits of $250,000 and $300,000, you can get a $550,000 payout when you make a claim.
Cons of Critical Illness Insurance
- Expensive: This type of insurance policy is not cheap. As an example, a Term 10 insurance policy with $500,000 coverage (Term 10 means a policy that covers you for 10 years) for a 35-year old non-smoking male without any pre-conditions costs around $180/ month (exemplary quote) whereas a Term 10 life insurance policy with coverage of $1,000,000 for the same person costs around $50.
- Definitions matter: If a diagnosed disease, such as a heart attack, is not aligned with the definition of this illness in the policy, your claim may be not paid.
- Does not cover you immediately: Policy typically comes with a waiting period (e.g. 90 days) during which you are not covered.
- Payout is not immediate: If you are diagnosed with a critical illness, there is “survival period” – (e.g. 30 days). If you die within that period, your claim will be not paid.
Critical illness insurance provides solid coverage for being unexpectedly diagnosed with a serious disease, but this coverage comes at a cost. It’s a good idea to work with an insurance broker to get a critical illness insurance quote and to apply for a policy. Brokers have access to multiple insurance companies and will help you navigate through the complex application process, especially if you have medical pre-conditions.