What is Critical Illness insurance?
Critical illness insurance is a form of health insurance that provides a lump-sum payment should you become seriously ill. It can be purchased as a stand alone policy or as a rider with your life insurance policy. We all know someone who has had a heart attack, cancer or another serious illness that required time off work to recover. This is were a critical illness policy would help by providing a lump sum payment so you can focus on recovering and not about paying bills.
What are the types of illnesses covered by critical illness insurance?
Although they differ from company to company, typical illnesses and diseases covered by critical illness insurance may include:
- heart attack
- multiple sclerosis
- organ transplants
- kidney failure
Coverage can also vary according to the degree of severity of, or conditions associated with, an illness or disease. For example, if you are diagnosed with a type of cancer that is treatable and that results in minimal “down time”, you may not be eligible to make a claim.
Coverage cannot be purchased for a pre-existing condition or illness.
It is important to read your policy carefully. In addition, be sure to ask your insurance representative to provide you with a complete explanation of your coverage.
Do I need critical illness insurance?
In determining your need for critical illness insurance, you should consider benefits that may already be available to you through other insurance policies, such as life insurance and group health insurance. For example, the benefits offered through your employer’s group disability plan may provide appropriate and adequate coverage in the event of a critical illness.
You should also consider your personal circumstances and the added financial strain that could be brought about by dealing with a serious illness or disease. Public and private health insurance plans typically do not provide coverage for day-to-day living expenses such as travel to and from treatments, home care and child care.
Consider the statistics:
Canadians have a greater chance of having at least one occurrence of heart attack, stroke, or being diagnosed with cancer than dying before the age of 75.
Source: Compiled by Canada Life based upon Canadian Institute for Health Information 1999/2000 Hospital Morbidity Data; Cancer Statistics: Canadian Society 2001; Mortality: Statistics Canada, Life Tables : 1995-1997Source: Munich Re’s 2008 Individual Insurance Survey.
*From the Heart and Stroke Foundation
- 1 in 4 Canadians will contract some form of heart disease
- 75,000 Canadians suffer heart attacks each year
- Heart disease costs the Canadian economy approximately $19 billion every year in medical services, hospitalization expenses, loss of income and loss of productivity
- The rate of death among patients hospitalized for heart attacks has been decreased by half, from 16% to 8%
- 1 in 2 heart attack victims is under age 65
*From the Heart and Stroke Foundation
- 50,000 Canadians suffer a stroke each year
- 75% survive the initial event
- Strokes are the leading cause of neurological disability
- 1/3 of stroke victims are under the age of 65
- 60% of stroke victims will be left with a disability
*From the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
- More than 50,000 Canadians have Multiple Sclerosis
- MS is the most common neurological disease among young Canadians
- Canadians have one of the highest rates of MS in the world.
- Women are twice as likely to develop MS as men
*From the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation of Canada
- 30% of all Parkinson’s patients are under 50
- 20% of all Parkinson’s patients are under 40
- There are approximately 80,000-100,000 Canadians suffering from Parkinson’s
*From the National Spinal Cord Injury Association of Canada
- There are an estimated 900 Canadians who sustain a spinal cord injury each year
- More than 30,000 Canadians suffer from paralysis of 2 or more limbs
- Most persons who suffer spinal cord injury are between 16 and 30 years of age
- The most common causes of spinal cord injury are car collisions and falls
*From the Canadian Cancer Society
- More than 130,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer this year
- Over 60,000 people in Canada will die this year from the disease
- 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2.5 men will develop cancer in their lifetime
Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
*From the heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario/Canada
- Bypass surgery is performed more on men than on women by a ratio of nearly 4 to 1
- There are approximately 11,000 bypass surgeries performed in Canada each year
- The rate at which bypass surgery is performed on people age 65 and older has increased
*From the Canadian Alzheimer Society
- Alzheimer’s Disease is the fourth leading cause of death in Canada
- Every year approximately 10,000 Canadians die from Alzheimer’s disease
- There are approximately 22,000 people in Metro Toronto with Alzheimer’s
- Approximately 1 in 100 Canadians suffer from Alzheimer’s
- The disease occurs in 8% of the general population of 60
*From the Kidney Foundation of Canada
- Kidney disease is ranked sixth among diseases causing death in Canada
- Each day an average of 8 Canadians learn that their kidneys have failed
- Approximately 2000 Canadians are on a waiting list for kidney transplant
- 351 kidney transplants were performed in Ontario in 1995
- 1 in 10 will develop kidney stones at some point in their lives
*From the Canadian Hearing Society
- 280,000 Canadians are deaf
- 1,120,000 Canadians are hard of hearing
- 1,400,000 do not use amplification
- There are more than 2,800,000 Canadians with hearing loss
*From the Canadian Aids Society
- Approximately 4.4 million health care workers suffer 800,000 needle sticks and other injuries from sharp objects annually
- An estimated 16,000 of these objects are contaminated with HIV
How much does it cost?
Generally, the younger and healthier you are, the lower the premium (cost). However, the cost varies depending on your age, medical condition, the amount of coverage, the number of illnesses covered by the policy, and the insurance company.
It pays to shop around to get the best rate. When shopping for a critical illness plan, you should consider your income, financial obligations, dependents, and health care needs.
How can I make a claim?
You can make a claim if a physician, licensed to practice medicine in Canada and specializing in your particular illness, diagnoses you with a critical illness or disease covered by your policy.
When will I receive payment?
Generally, a lump-sum benefit payment will be made to you 30 days after the claim has been approved. There are no restrictions on how you use the money.Once your claim is paid, your critical illness insurance policy ceases.
Is this the same as long-term care insurance?
No. Long-term care insurance provides for personal care on a long-term basis if you need supervision or assistance with daily living activities due to a chronic illness, disabling condition or cognitive impairment.
Long-term care policies generally reimburse, up to a specified limit, the expenses incurred for various types of care, such as nursing home or home health care; or they pay a pre-determined benefit amount on a daily or monthly basis.
Is this the same as disability insurance?
No. Disability insurance, also known as “income replacement” insurance, provides a monthly income replacement benefit if you become disabled and can no longer perform the normal duties of your work. Generally, the benefit is limited to a percentage of your regular income and ceases once you earn an income or you no longer meet the definition of disability in the contract.
Unlike critical illness insurance which provides the full policy benefit in a lump sum payment on diagnosis of a critical illness, long-term disability policies may have a waiting period from the onset of disability. Unlike critical illness benefits, long-term disability benefits may be affected by other income you receive or by your full recovery from the illness.
To learn more about critical illness policies it pays to speak with a broker, since traveling around will only provide you limited resources. I can get you quotes and information that will help you compare and find the best plan from multiple insurance companies. Critical illness is often offered as a rider when a person or family takes out life insurance. Therefore, the policies are often inexpensive and involve one application and one underwriting process. The few dollars now can provide you with a large tax free lump sum benefit so you can focus on recovering – not paying the bills or mortgage when a critical Illness comes knocking at your door.
By Andrew W Bradley a licensed Insurance Broker and Financial Services Advisor helping Orleans families since 2011. Combining this with his previous working experience with the Canada Revenue Agency enables him to help a wide range of individuals, families and businesses. As an Independent Broker he devotes time to educating the consumer and implementing comprehensive financial plans for both individuals and businesses in areas including insurance and investments.
The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for specific professional advice. I recommend that you obtain your own independent professional advice (preferably me) before making any decision in relation to your particular requirements or circumstances.