Critical Illness Plans: 5 Things You Didn’t Know Were Excluded From Traditional CI Plans

This article first appeared on DollarsAndSense.sg

Critical illness plans are one of the most common types of health insurance policies that agents typically sell. It’s also an important health insurance policy that many consumers will purchase, either as a stand-alone plan, or as a rider tagged to a life insurance plan.

A critical illness (CI) plan provides a lump sum pay-out to policyholders in the event they are diagnosed with an illness covered under the policy. In Singapore, most traditional CI plans will cover 37 common types of critical illnesses.

However, not many people would know that policyholders have to meet the common definition of these critical illnesses before they are eligible to receive a pay-out. These are as defined by the Life Insurance Association (LIA) and it includes some exclusions. Here are 5 important definitions and exclusions that you should take careful note of.

# 1 Kidney Failure, Failure Of One Kidney

Kidney failure is defined as the irreversible failure of both kidneys, which requires either permanent renal dialysis or kidney transplantation. That means if only one kidney has failed, it does not constitute a critical illness (yet).

# 2 Coma, Drug & Alcohol Abuse

A coma that persists for at least 96 hours, and as a result, brain damage which causes permanent neurological deficit assessed at least 30 days after the onset of coma is considered a critical illness.

However, it’s important to note that coma resulting directly from alcohol and drug abuse are excluded from coverage.

# 3 Major Cancer, Early Stage

Many people don’t realise that early and intermediate stage of major cancers are excluded from coverage in traditional CI plans. Traditional CI plans only cover cancer during the critical stage, also sometimes known as late-stage cancer.

# 4 HIV, Consensual Sex

HIV is covered under CI plans but it’s only restricted to infection as a result of blood transfusion and occupationally-acquired HIV. In other words, HIV infections resulting from consensual sexual activity are excluded.

# 5 Liver Failure, Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Liver failure which comes as a result of drug or alcohol abuse are excluded from CI coverage.

Early-Stage Critical Illness Provides Wider Scope of Coverage, But Many Exclusions Still Stand

If you purchase an early-stage critical illness plan, you will enjoy a wider scope of coverage provided by the insurer. For example, unlike traditional CI plans that only provides a pay-out when an illness has reached “critical stage”, early-stage critical illness plan provides a pay-out during the “early stage” and “intermediate stage” of an illness.

Based on our observations, however, any illness that is a direct result of living in an irresponsible manner such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse and consensual sexual activity would still be excluded, even for early-stage critical illness plans.

DollarsAndSense.sg is a personal finance website that aim to help Singaporeans make better financial decision.

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

3 Surprising Facts About Cancer You Never Knew

Surprising Cancer Facts

Okay, we messed up.

Last week we said we would not talk about cancer, but it seems that the demand for interesting cancer facts was high as well. We here at fundMyLife don’t say no to reader requests, and so this time round we will cover surprising and cool cancer facts.

Non-smokers get lung cancer too

Believe it or not, half of the world’s lung cancer cases happen in Asia. There is also this misconception that only smokers and mine workers get lung cancer. However, that cannot be further from the truth. Non-smokers get lung cancer too.

This is because lung cancer is both due to genetic predisposition and environmental. However, if it is of any comfort, non-smoker lung cancer patients have better survival rates than those who smoked. The genetic causes behind the development of cancer are different for smokers and non-smokers.

Don’t get complacent and do regular checks! Most lung cancer patients are diagnosed too late when the severe symptoms appear.

Bad dental hygiene increases risk of cancer

Ah, a good reason to tell someone with bad breath to see the dentist.

You’d be surprised how closely linked our oral condition and overall health are. For example, the connection between dental health and heart disease is well-documented. However, in the recent years, increasing evidence also suggests that poor dental health is correlated to various cancer incidences. The constant and prolonged inflammation create an environment which is suitable for cancer growth.

Besides the indirect link, i.e. inflammation and cancer, there are also direct ramifications of poor oral hygiene. The virus responsible for cervical cancer – the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – is linked to the oral cancer and is responsible for increasing incidences of HPV-fueled oropharyngeal cancers. It spreads from genital-to-oral contact, so brush up regularly before you go down occasionally.

Better get brushing and seek an appointment with your dentist!

Marital status affects cancer survival

We swear the Ministry of Social and Family Development didn’t pay us to write this one.

In a landmark clinical research published in 2013, patients who were married at the time of cancer diagnosis are way more likely to live longer than those that aren’t. It’s not just one type of cancer. Patients of lung, breast, pancreatic, prostate, colorectal, liver/bile duct, lymphoma, head and neck, ovarian, and oesophageal cancer – what a large variety – showed significant survival benefit from marriage.

Intuitively, it makes sense. In a (healthy) marriage, there is relatively more social support compared to that of an unmarried person. For example, in a marriage the patient can bounce ideas off the partner and cope better with the mental/emotional/physical pain that comes with being a cancer patient. In addition, a cancer patient’s partner helps in complying with the treatment regiment, which can often be painful.

Does this mean unmarried people are doomed? Not exactly. They just have to obtain their form of social and moral support via other means, e.g., friends, religious groups, support groups, etc.

Thanks for listening to our cancer facts

We hope you enjoyed our small selection of random and surprising cancer facts. Please share it on Facebook and your social media if you think someone can benefit from our writing.

If you’ve questions on insurance, head on to our main site and ask our curated pool of financial advisers!

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

 

Ask fML Advisers: What Are Your Opinions On Critical Illness?

Critical illness insurance can be a lifesaver, since you are paid a lump sum if you are diagnosed with any of the 37 critical illnesses. We have written quite a bit of this topic, but why not hear it from the advisers themselves?

We asked three advisers of fundMyLife (check out their profiles!) – Jennifer from Manulife, Roshan from AIA, and Winifred – on their thoughts regarding critical illness insurance and what they think are common misconceptions. Here’s what they have to say.

Jennifer Neo, Manulife

Jennifer Neo's picture
Jennifer Neo, Manulife

What are your thoughts and perspectives on critical illness insurance?

In the past, I took up two orphan clients – clients without a servicing adviser – referred to me by a friend from a different company. They owned two plans: Living Choice and Universal Care, taken up in 1997. 20 years later, in 2017, the wife was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. It could reach a stage of paralysis where the legs are stiff frozen, limiting mobility.

At the time of her claim, she was a 53-year old housewife. She was mentally shaken but physically she was still fine. Naturally, one would be worried or scared after knowing what the stages of this sickness are and how it could eventually cause difficulties, such as swallowing and even talking or expressing herself. At this point, when one is physically disabled, he/she would need a caregiver to assist in their daily living.

The couple was very thankful that I helped them in the process of checking the claims status. I could sense their gratitude, expressed in simple terms of gifting me a box of CNY biscuits and angpao as it was during CNY period last year.

For critical illness, you should buy it when you don’t need it, so that when you need it, you will have it. When you are young, you should prepare whenever you can. When you take responsibility for yourself in your younger days, your dependents will be free from the financial responsibility of taking care of your medical bills. Otherwise, they might be the one shouldering the bills on top of supporting themselves.

I would urge young adults to think and look into your critical illness coverage. For example, do you have $50,000 in your bank account? If you don’t, it’s a good time to look into covering yourself with a critical illness plan that can cover you with a lump sum to take care of yourself when the critical illnesses strike.

Two facts to share:

  1. When you buy it at your younger age, you pay lesser! And most likely you would have the good health to buy it. There is a cost of waiting –the older you are, the higher the premiums will be.
  2. And the second cost is there is no guarantee of coverage. A health issue could strike any time leaving you not being eligible for coverage. Waiting just a few years to buy could result in not getting coverage at all. Don’t wait until your health changes because when that happens, the insurance companies might not want to take you on.

Roshan Belani, AIA Financial Advisers

Roshan from AIA
Roshan Belani, AIA

What are your thoughts and perspectives on critical illness insurance?

The wife of a good client of mine was diagnosed with Stage II cancer. The client’s family was quite big, with 4 daughters. Fortunately, they had a hospitalization plan that covered most of the medical fees and an early critical illness plan that provided a lump sum payout. While the wife of the client was a stay-at-home mother, they came to know of an experimental drug that was being used in a clinical trial. Experimental drugs are usually not covered by hospitalization plans.

The cost of the drugs for the entire duration of the treatment was between SGD$150-200,000. The family was willing to fork out the money as the lump sum from the early critical illness plan was able to defray some of the costs – they later found out that this drug was indeed covered by insurance, providing much relief to them and their finances. In this case, the early critical illness payout worked as a peace of mind to engage costly treatment.

One misconception that I’d like to address is that people think that critical illness plans are just for working adults. However, it is not meant to be an income replacement. After all, someone has to bear the costs of medical treatment and aftercare in the household. In the client’s family that I shared above, if the drugs were not covered by MOH, the cost of the treatment would have put a huge dent in their financial plans – retirement plans, investments, and even the education for the four daughters.

Fortunately, the wife is currently receiving treatment and is getting better day after day.

Winifred Tan

Winifred Tan, Great Eastern
Winifred Tan

What are your thoughts and perspectives on critical illness insurance?

Over the years, I have observed that underwriters are quite strict. Even if the applicant is young and has not been diagnosed with any of the 37 critical illnesses, he has a chance of exclusion or extra loading (higher premiums) if there is any prior medical history. A few things that I’d like to share:

  1. Terminal illness coverage refers to a conclusive diagnosis of an illness that is expected to result in death within 12 months
  2. HIV infection is usually excluded, whereas occupationally derived HIV is covered in our hospital plans
  3. Diabetes is NOT considered a critical illness, but diabetic complications are considered
  4. Critical illness (CI) usually covers 37 conditions for later stages unless the policy is a specific early stage policy. Normally, early stage CI covers about 29 illnesses
  5. There may be a maximum amount payable for CI on all policies e.g. $2.5M
  6. Angioplasty & other invasive treatment for coronary artery do not pay out 100% of the sum assured (SA). Usually only 10% of SA
  7. Waiting Period: CI coverage usually needs a waiting period of 90 days from the day of purchase BEFORE any claims can be made (which is why it’s one of the first core components of insurance that people usually get for themselves and loved ones)
  8. Survival Period: A claimant must usually live beyond 7 days, which is also the survival period, for a CI policy to pay out (regardless of early or major stage CI coverage)

In addition, people often confuse critical illness plans with hospitalization insurance! They think it pays out for hospitalization, but it is not. Normally, I’d say that hospitalization insurance as “reimbursement of bills” and CI insurance as a complement to hospital insurance for income replacement! People also think that critical insurance looks “critical”, that is the illnesses are too major/serious to get it at a young age. That’s because they do not know about early CI as well.

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The misconceptions that the public generally have is that critical illness plans are seen as income replacements, which should not be the case. Instead, they advise us to view the plan as a form of illness aftercare, when we need the resources to recover.

Jennifer advocated to start buying a critical illness plan early because firstly it’s cheaper and secondly there’s no telling when the consumer may not be eligible for it. Furthermore, critical illness plans can be seen as a way to reduce financial burden of recovery. Roshan’s story about his client’s wife agrees with that sentiment and he said that there’s always going to be someone in the household to bear the costs of treatment. Winifred shares important facts that one needs to consider when purchasing critical illness insurance, e.g., possibility of exclusion due to family history, survival period, waiting period, etc.

If you’ve more questions on insurance, head on to our main site and ask our curated pool of financial advisers! Alternatively, if you’d like to connect with either Jennifer from Manulife, Roshan from AIA, and Winifred, just click on the link in their names and you can ask them questions directly from their profile pages.

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

4 Uncommon Critical Illnesses in Singapore and How They Can Impact Your Life

We have written much about critical illness plans, and it is about time we talk about the other critical illnesses themselves. Is this another post about cancer and heart diseases and their risk factors? No, we say. Let’s talk about uncommon critical illnesses and how they can impact your life instead.

At fundMyLife, we’re hipsters at heart (I will regret using this term in a few years’ time). While cancer is a perpetually interesting topic – my favorite book happens to be a non-fiction on the history of cancer – we believe that we should discuss other uncommon critical illnesses. After all, there’s a reason why the list of critical illnesses by the Life Insurance Agency contains 37 of them.

Without further ado, here are some of the horrifying diseases. Note: we contemplated long and hard to include pictures but that would make our article really NSFW.

Fulminant Hepatitis

Fulminant Hepatitis is a form of acute liver failure, and there is nothing cute about it. As its name suggests, “fulminant” means severe and sudden onset, caused by the Hepatitis virus. The symptoms are quite dastardly, and they involve:

  1. Rapid decrease in size of your liver as the tissue dies
  2. …leaving only the scaffold of the liver behind
  3. Rapid deterioration of your liver functions (no mor3 alcohol processing)
  4. Jaundice (turning yellow)
  5. Inflammation of the brain

To be considered acute, the symptoms have to appear between 8-28 days. There’d be fluid build-up all over your body, especially your brain. There are cases where patients with fulminant hepatitis lose 95% of their liver, necessitating a liver transplant. Statistically, people younger than 40 are more likely to recover than older ones. To be able to claim you must have all five conditions met, supported by medical diagnosis.

Apallic Syndrome

Not to be confused with its very distant cousin – aphallic syndrome – the apallic syndrome is the old name for a condition called “persistent vegetative state”. It is a state that follows when you suffer extensive and irreversible brain damage, leaving on the brain stem intact. The brain stem is in charge of things like breathing, heartbeat, reflexes and digestion but you’d be in a state of no self-awareness.

Most people recover from apallic syndrome within six months, with half of them recovering after one month. Recover is very unlikely after six months. For claim to be considered, the condition has to be documented for at least one month. 

Bacterial Meningitis

When you get late-stage bacterial meningitis, it is an infection that results in severe inflammation of the membranes of the brain or spinal cords. This leads to significant, irreversible, and permanent neurological deficit. For example, you might lose your hearing, speech, and vision. In addition, you may suffer permanent damage to brain and nerve cells, get seizures, memory loss, and muscle control. You might even show behavioral changes and cognitive impairment. Some patients take months and years to recover from the neurological damage.

If doctors suspect that you have meningitis, the doctors will extract fluid from your spine – a process called spinal tap. Spinal taps are relatively uncomfortable and post-spinal tap headaches are common. After that, lab tests will determine whether you have meningitis and of what nature.

For your critical illness plan to pay out, your meningitis must be bacterial and not viral, and neurological symptoms that persist for 6 weeks. In addition, bacterial meningitis in the presence of HIV is excluded. Viral meningitis is excluded because the symptoms are less severe than that of bacterial meningitis.

Poliomyelitis (Polio)

Now, for something in the list that you don’t have to worry too much about. Singapore is certified polio-free since 1978. Polio’s not just one of the uncommon critical illnesses, it’s a critical illness that’s almost impossible to contract in Singapore and a large part of the world. To date, only three countries in the world never stopped transmission of polio: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. In 2017, there was only 21 cases reported in total from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Under the rare case that you do contract polio, there are two kinds: non-paralytic and paralytic. In the former, the symptoms resemble flu. You’d be sick for 10 days, maximum. However, in the latter case, you’d lose your reflexes, experience severe muscle aches and weaknesses, and have loose and floppy limbs. It’d take years for you to recover from this. For you to be eligible for critical illness claim for this condition, your limb muscles or respiratory muscles, e.g., lungs, must be paralyzed for at least 3 months.

There we have it, some of the uncommon critical illnesses here in Singapore. If you find yourself in a rut or have a burning financial planning question, ask away at fundMyLife!

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Guide To Understanding How Critical Illness Policy Works

This article first appeared on DollarsAndSense.sg

One of the most common types of insurance that people frequently talk about is Critical Illness (CI). You may have heard about it from your insurance agent, or from friends who have bought these policies. You may even know of one or more person who have claimed from it.

But what exactly does critical illness covers us for? More importantly, do all of us need to buy some form of critical illness overage? In this article, we aim to address both of these common questions.

What Is A Critical Illness Plan For?

As its name suggests, a Critical illness (CI) plan is a type of insurance that pays out a lump sum payment to a policyholder when he/she is diagnosed with an illness covered by the policy.

One important to note is that claim payout is only made when policyholders are diagnosed with a condition that meets the common definition of these critical illnesses. For example, the definition of a kidney failure would be a “chronic irreversible failure of both kidneys requiring either permanent renal dialysis or kidney transplantation”. These must be conditions diagnosed by a certified doctor or specialist. You can read up more about the common definition here.

Payments make do not depend on the policyholder incurring any medical costs or hospitalisation admission for the treatment. The money is simply given out once the condition is diagnosed.

Typically, the rationale to purchase a CI plan is to ensure that one received important financial support during this difficult phase of illness, where additional funds may be required for specialised treatment, homecare, and to replace for potential loss of income during recovery. How policyholders use their money is entirely up to them.

What Does Critical Illness Cover Me For?

To begin, it’s important to first understand that within Singapore, there is a standard list of 37 illnesses covered under traditional CI policies. Here’s the full list of them.

Source: Life Insurance Association

Some companies may also cover other illnesses beyond what is found on this list in their CI plan

** If you purchase an early-stage CI plan, you will be covered for a wider range of illnesses. If you have an existing early-stage CI plan, do check with your respective insurer on the extent of the coverage.

Premiums Payable

Similar to life insurance, the premiums that you pay for your CI policy is dependent on the sum assured, your age, gender and length of coverage. Here are some rules of thumbs to consider.

  • In general, females tend to pay more than male for CI policies
  • Older people will naturally pay higher premiums
  • The longer you want coverage for, the higher your annual premiums is likely to be
  • Generally, sum assured starts from $50,000
  • Early-stage critical illness will cost much more than traditional CI plan due to the fact that it provides for more extensive coverage

Do I Need Really Need To Buy A Critical Illness Plan?

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that a critical illness plan is a type of health insurance. It’s not an investment plan. Neither is it a savings plan. In other words, you only get a payout if something bad occurs. Nobody should be buying a CI plan hoping to get a payout.

A CI plan can help you and your loved ones offset the financial stress when an unfortunate illness occurs. This allow policyholders and their family members to focus on getting suitable treatment and recovering, without having to worry about their financial resources being stretched as a result of the illness.

Some CI policies can be bought as an add-on rider to a main life insurance plan. If you are already intending to buy a life insurance policy, you can check with your insurance agent if you can add-on a CI rider to your policy, instead of having to buy a stand-alone plan.

If you have a question about critical illness policies that you wish to ask, you can submit your questions on the fundMyLife website. fundMyLife will automatically connect your financial planning questions, to the right trusted advisers in its platform. Furthermore, your questions are private and anonymous, unless of course you intend to connect with the agents you want to for a further discussion.

You can also follow fundMyLife on their Facebook page to stay updated with insurance discussions and questions.

Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

DollarsAndSense.sg is a personal finance website that aim to help Singaporeans make better financial decision.

MINDEF/MHA Group Insurance: Here Are The 3 Things You Could Be Insured Against

For most local men, their first experience with insurance is during their National Service. Under the Core Scheme, the SAF group insurance is paid for by MINDEF and MHA.

But what happens after ORD? Should these fine young men fresh from NS continue to protect themselves with the Voluntary Scheme? fundMyLife is fond of financial questions and recently we are seeing an increasing number of questions on this scheme. As such, we take a quick look at the plan to see what you could be insured against!

Group Term Life – Death or Total and Permanent Disability

As the name suggests, the Group Term Life covers death, total and permanent disability, advance payment benefit, and daily hospital cash benefit daily for 11th–30th day of hospitalisation.

How much is it? Here’s one of the biggest draws for the plan – the price. When you’re 65 years old and below, you can be insured for $100,000 for $4.10/month and $1,000,000 for $41/month. How awesome is that?

However, the plan is much more expensive between 65 to 70 years old and you don’t get insured after that 70. In the case for $100,000 coverage, the premium jumps from $4.10/month to $70.90/month upon renewal when you’re 66 years old and $1,060/month when you are 70 years old.

Group Personal Accident

The second main plan covers you for accidental injuries, and deaths resulting from accidents. You can be insured for $100,000 for $1/month all the way to $600,000 for $6/month. That said, even though the plan does cover fractures, the limit is $5,000. It’s less for some body parts, where it’s 25% of $5,000 for an arm fracture and 50% for a leg fracture for example.

In addition, as with all TPDs, the requirements to qualify for TPD are very specific – you’d have to lose very specific parts of your body in order to qualify for the claim. It depends if you’re working in an occupation that can lead to such disabilities. Working in a factory with heavy machinery, yes; office work, probably not.

Riders

On top of the two main plans mentioned above, you can also add riders to either for critical illnesses, early critical illnesses, disability income, and/or outpatient Medicare.

On top of the Group Term Life Insurance, you can add a rider that covers critical illnesses using Living Care. Living Care’s cost increases as you age. We will spare you the numbers, but we observe a marked jump in premiums after the age of 45. To illustrate this, we plotted the percentage increase of premiums from one age group to another.

A chart that illustrates the difference of premiums between age groups. The values indicate the difference between adjacent age groups. For example, there is a 16% increase in premiums between the 21-25 y/o age group and 1-20 y/o age group.

That said, as a basic critical illness rider it’s as good as it gets since it covers the 37 critical illnesses out there. You might as well think of getting if you’re getting either of the main plans.

Living Care Plus covers early critical illnesses, but it’s relatively paltry since it covers 10 early critical illnesses compared to other insurers out there. It’s cheaper, but it covers less. In this case, it’s a matter of whether you can afford early critical ilness plans by other insurers out there.

Disability Income is a rider that covers 50% of your basic salary x 12 upon disability, to a maximum of $120,000/year till you’re 70 years old. It’s relatively lower than the usual 75% offered by other insurance companies, but the premiums are relatively lower as well. The premium depends on your age, e.g., $4.13/month/$10,000 sum insured when you’re under 26 years old. Again, like the main plans, it really depends on your occupation and lifestyle.

Outpatient Medicare is a rider that provides coverage for GP consultation expenses. It has two plans: Plan A (Superior) and Plan B (Deluxe) that covers a maximum of $1,000 and $500 per policy year respectively. The premiums depend on age, but is relatively simple. Plan A ranges from $296-376/year and Plan B ranges from $208-260/year.

Things to look out for

So cheap, so affordable! Does the suite of plans sound too good to be true? Well, yes and no. There are certain caveats to be mindful of if you choose this plan.

Firstly, as the name suggests, it is a group insurance plan. It means you don’t truly own the policy and you would lose it when you’re either kicked out or the group disbands. Fortunately, the probability of MINDEF, MHA, or SAF disbanding is highly unlikely. However, it doesn’t mean SAF might not switch the insurer from Aviva to another company and that the T&Cs won’t change suddenly.

Secondly, while the premiums are relatively low, the premiums are not guaranteed and increases with age for some of protection areas. Moreover, as a term insurance, the coverage is until you are 70 years old – what happens after then?

The average lifespan of a Singaporean is 82 years, which means you still need something to fill in the 12-year gap in between. The SAF plan can be an initial part of your portfolio when life is simpler, until when it makes more sense to get a proper insurance plan on top of it as you enter different life stages that requires more, or whole life protection.

Still feeling uncertain?

Unsure if you have enough cover at your age, or wondering if you need anything to complement your SAF insurance? We can definitely help you get some answers. Head on over to our site, ask them, and be connected to the right financial advisers who can answer them!

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Is An Integrated Shield Plan (Hospital Plan) All I Need?

Written by Jonathon Han, edited by Jackie Tan. The opinion series is dedicated to sharing our advisers’ thoughts and opinion on personal finances. Jonathon is a part of fundMyLife, the platform that connects financial planning questions to the right advisers. Interested to contribute? Drop us an email at jackie@fundmylife.co!

It is very Singaporean of us to have a KIASU or cost effective mindset when it comes to doing up our insurance. One of the most common questions that I am often asked is: Is just buying an integrated shield plan (ISP) sufficient?

After all, in the event of sickness, we Singaporeans always have one saying…can afford to die, cannot afford to get sick. So I presume as long as I have a Shield plan, I should be fine?

Yes it is true, hospital bills are usually the biggest INITIAL bill, however we have to factor in other unseen costs, which are often overlooked. It is not in my practice to be fear mongering, I prefer to take a rational approach to sickness while drawing from real life experiences.

What happens when we are sick?

[Seen Cost] We get hospitalized and require medical treatment (ISP covers this)

Yes, hospital bills will be covered by ISP. ISPs are designed to cover catastrophic hospital bills and costs of post-hospital treatment. Your medical bills and post-hospital treatment will be covered in according to the plan you purchased.

[Unseen Cost 1] We lose our ability to work, usually temporary (Immediate loss of income)

When we get sick, it is highly unlikely we would wish to go back to the same stressful environment that caused us to get sick in the first place. We would require a significant amount of time off based on the severity of our illness. The time ranges from 3-6 months of being out of the job for Early Critical Illnesses, to 6-24 months for advanced Critical Illnesses.

Most of us don’t get paid to stay at home to mend our bodies. Hence income replacement is important.

A critical illness plan will give a payout of a lump sum upon diagnosis of early critical illness or advanced critical illness. This money can be used as income replacement while we recover.

[Unseen Cost 2] Some of us will reprioritize our lives and choose to work at a different pace (Potential income loss)

After some of us recover from illness, we might wish to relook our lives and spend time more time with our loved ones, or spend more time enjoying and embracing life. This usually translates to committing short hours to work or changing jobs to something less intense. Most of the time, this will result in a drop in our income. Since a critical illness plan pays out a lump sum upon diagnosis of critical illness, the funds can be used to offset some of the potential loss of income when we choose to reprioritize our lives.

[Unseen Cost 3] Cost of eating healthy, with supplements and organic food (Nutrition and supplement)

Those going through illness will attest to a positive change in diet. Some of us will go to extremes as to only consume organic food while others increase their supplement intake. Adopting an organic diet and increasing our supplement intake will not come cheap. A lump sum from a critical illness payout will usually come in handy at such times.

After knowing all these hidden bills, what is the most cost-effective way to resolve it?

We should consider whole life insurance with critical illness and early critical illness coverage.

How does this complement my ISP?

In summary, the ISP is designed to cover hospitalization and medical cost, while critical illness plans are designed to pay out a lump sum to offset your unseen cost, i.e. immediate loss of income, potential income loss, & nutrition and supplement.

A small tip: I would suggest avoid using term insurance to cover against critical illness and early critical illness as the total outlay from term insurance often will be more expensive in the long run.

Jonathon Han
Professional Financial Adviser, not just another typical salesman

 

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

5 Common Questions on Critical Illness Insurance

5 Critical Illness Questions Answered

Critical illness insurance is one of the most commonly discussed insurance plans. In short, the basic critical illness plans provide you with a lump sum of money when you are diagnosed with any of the 37 critical illnesses. Yet, there is still much uncertainty and questions (which is why you are here, aren’t you?) because of how complex it can get. Indeed, it can be quite a confusing affair. We here at fundMyLife love questions, and so we collected some of the most common critical illness insurance questions out there to answer for you.

1. Why should I get critical illness insurance?

Tl;dr: Shield plans take care of hospital bills, critical illness takes care of life bills.

You might be thinking – why get critical illness insurance when you have MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plans? Here is a consideration. When you’re sick with flu you’d get medicine for a couple of days and you’d rest up and all is well. However, if you’re ever sick with late-stage cancer, it would not just be a couple of days (more like a couple of months to a year) and you’d be even sicker with the cancer treatment.

In this case, it’s highly unlikely that you’d be able to work. If you’re the sole breadwinner in family, what happens then? While hospitalisation plans help with hospitalisation (duh), the lump sum payment from critical illness plans or riders helps you to tide through the period when you are being treated, reducing the financial impact of lost income. It leaves you with a bit more resources to engage helpers or even experimental treatment that is not covered under normal plans.

2. Should I get early critical illness plan as well?

Tl;dr: It depends on whether you regularly check your body, and if you can afford it.

Ah, indeed it is a classic question. The answer: it depends. More specifically, it depends on whether you can detect the disease early. There is a certain sense of irony if your disease was not deemed severe enough for a claim payout. There are horror stories of consumers not being able to claim because, for example, the stage of cancer was not advanced enough.

If you avoid doctor visits like the plague, chances are you’ll be detecting diseases in the later stages. However, if you’re a hypochondriac and go for yearly full body check-up pilgrimages, early critical illness might not be a bad idea.

Early critical plans themselves come with their own sets of terms and conditions and are less standardised compared to the usual critical illness plans. In addition, you have to scrutinise the T&Cs closely for the definition of diseases in their early, intermediate, and late stage. There’s also the cost to consider as well since they don’t come cheap. 

3. Should I get a single plan or multiple claim plan?

Tl;dr: Single plans one time, multiple claims several stages several times. It depends on whether you want to, or are able to fork out the $.

Numerous critical illness plans are available as riders for life insurance. Typically, these plans are terminated upon payout. However, after contracting the first critical illness, it is hard to be reinsured as companies are not willing to take up more risks. In the oft-cited AIA Health Matters Survey 2016, it revealed that 9 in 10 Singaporeans find it challenging to purchase another critical illness plan after a diagnosis of a critical illness.

For multiple claims, the advantage lies in providing several payouts upon diagnosis. For example, one payout for early-stage cancer diagnosis and additional payouts in later stages. Sounds too good? It somewhat is. The caveat is that the multiple claim plans have much higher premiums compared to single claims plans. Furthermore, there is a waiting period of some plans in between claims.

The good news is that we’re seeing more innovation in this space, as more companies are coming up with multi-pay critical illness plans.

4. What is the difference between disability income insurance, total and partial disability insurance, and critical illness insurance?

Tl;dr: Disability plans give you monthly $ for being disabled, total and partial disability give you lump sum $ for extreme injuries, and critical illness plans give you lump sum $ for falling really sick.

Disability insurance helps you when you are unfit for your current profession after injury. Total and partial disability insurance helps when you lose limbs and/or endure extreme injuries. Critical illness insurance helps when you are really sick. Amount-wise, disability insurance gives you a monthly amount to keep you going while you are recovering from injuries. Both total and partial disability insurance, and critical illness provide you a lump sum when conditions are met. The conditions for all three types of insurance are strict, and require documentation and evidence for your current condition. Each of these serve different purposes are meant to be complementary, premiums notwithstanding.

5. Is there anything I should look out for in particular?

Tl;dr: Family medical history, your lifestyle, insurance waiting period, survival period

There are several factors to look out for when considering critical illness plans. The incidence of the critical illnesses in the list, are informed by your family’s medical history. For example, your risk of ovarian and breast cancer increases when you have relatives or family members with it. Other critical illnesses, such as kidney failure, correlated with lifestyles and diet. Prevention is better than cure so we highly encourage you to adopt a healthy lifestyle. In a way, no one truly wants to in a situation where they qualify to make these claims.

Critical illness plans also have waiting periods, typically 90 days from beginning of coverage – no benefits are paid out if any diagnosis or surgery are carried out within the waiting period. As such, it’s always good to get it while you are healthy and not when you suspect something is amiss in your body. Another period you have to look out for is survival period, a period of time in which you need to survive. Only after the survival period can you be paid. The implication is that if you die during the survival period there will be no money paid to your family. After all, it’s a recovery benefit and not a death benefit.

Got more questions?

We hope you found the article useful and it clarified some of the questions that you might have. Got more critical illness insurance questions? We can definitely help you. Head on over to our site, ask them, and be connected to the right financial advisers who can answer them!

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Have A Critical Illness Insurance Question? Here’s How fundMyLife Hopes To Help You

Chloe*, a young 20-ish lady working professional, thought about getting insurance after her uncle was diagnosed with Stage III lung cancer. After sifting through tons of articles online, the variety of plans out there by different companies confused her.

She posted on Facebook asking for help, only to be bombarded by messages inviting her for coffee, by acquaintances who have gone into financial advisories. Suffice to say, she was overwhelmed.

She also tried submitting her question on critical illness via insurance companies’ websites, only to find that she had to manually visit different companies and repeat the same process of asking her question.

The next day, while she was out shopping she encountered Darren*, an agent from one of the main insurance companies, during a roadshow. At the booth, Darren seemed confident and introduced her a plan. Charmed by his apparent knowledge, she signed up the plan he recommended on the spot.

However, a few days later she was upset when she realised that the agent didn’t sell her the plan that could protect her adequately after consulting the fine print. Luckily, she managed to cancel her plan because it was within the 14-day free look period.

How frustrating. Doesn’t it sound like a common story? It does, because it’s based on a true story.

Why did Chloe have such a hard time?

Despite the oft-repeated importance of critical illness plans, there are plenty of considerations to make when you are getting the plan.

For example, should you get Early Critical Illness on top of Critical Illness, i.e. plans that provide coverage from early to intermediate stages of critical illnesses? And then there’s the choice between single-pay or multi-pay plans, i.e., plans that terminate upon single payout vs plans that provide several payouts upon diagnosis of disease. Moreover, some critical illness plans require the disease to fall under very specific conditions.

With so many things to think about, it wasn’t a surprise that Chloe was overwhelmed. On top of that, it can be hard to not only get questions answered, but also connecting with the right adviser to answer them.

Enter fundMyLife.

fundMyLife is a Q&A platform that connects you to the right financial advisers based on your financial planning questions.

Ask Questions Privately

You can ask questions about critical illnesses in a private and anonymous manner. Just ask, sign up, and verify your email. Leave it to us to connect you to the right financial adviser for your needs. Our research showed that it took 3-5 days to get an answer for an inquiry through the main website of insurance companies. It’s astounding long, and by then you might have forgotten about it or lost the drive to ask. It’s dangerous, since you never know when you’d find time or motivation again to ask.

Chat Confidently with Experts

Get high quality answers from not just one, but multiple (max three) advisers with their respective opinions and expertise. Moreover, you can check their profiles out to get a better idea of them and what their clients have to say about them.

Think about it – if your Uber/Grab driver is 5 stars you know your ride will be good. Similarly, if your AirBnb host has a 5-star rating you know your accommodation will be splendid. If those cases are the norm, why can’t we do the same for financial advice as well? With our 5-star financial advisers, you will have a peace of mind knowing that the advice that our advisers give are great.

Connect Only If You Want To

The initial chat got you satisfied, and you want to get a cup of coffee to discuss more? Just a quick click of the our Connect button and the adviser will get to you before you can even say #fML. No pressure, no obligations. Our advisers are committed to educate, inform, and share the best advice.

We don’t know whether Chloe managed to get her critical illness insurance sorted out. However, with fundMyLife we hope other Chloes out there can find the right financial advisers.

*names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower the average Singaporean to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.