Insurance plan

Serious illness vs cancer care

Critical illness insurance plans and cancer care plans are both ideal for covering you against the financial impact of a serious illness or health problem.

There is some overlap between the two. Cancer is one of the serious illnesses recognized in Singapore; if you are diagnosed with cancer, what diet should you use?

To add to the confusion, both types of plans have similar features – lump sum payments, options for early or multiple claims, as well as the ability to be bundled with a lifetime plan as riders, and in some cases , even as a jumper to another.

Although they share some commonalities, critical illness insurance plans and cancer care plans are different insurance policies that can work both alone and in tandem.

Let’s dive into it.

Side by Side: Serious Illnesses and Cancer Care

Critical illness insurance Cancer care insurance
Covers against at least 37 common serious illnesses and medical conditions, including cancer Covers only against cancer
Paid as a lump sum, which can be used to cover all expenses, including processing fees, to settle an outstanding debt, or as a gift to surviving family members Payment in a lump sum, with no restrictions on the use of funds. Can also be paid in instalments, with an early repayment clause
Can be combined with additional benefits Can be combined with additional benefits for cancer patients
Can be purchased as a standalone plan or as a rider attached to a Lifetime plan Can be purchased as a standalone plan or as a rider attached to a Lifetime plan

Critical Illness Insurance Plans — Who Are They For?

Critical illness insurance plans offer a wide range of coverage for critical illnesses that can be life-threatening or life-shattering, such as heart disease, major cancers, strokes, and kidney failure. At a minimum, critical illness plans in Singapore cover a standard list of 37 critical illnesses, although some insurers may choose to cover additional illnesses and medical conditions.

The scope of benefits mainly consists of a main benefit which pays out the sums insured upon the confirmed diagnosis of a specific critical illness.

Other additional benefits may also be included, such as allowances for prostheses or mobility aids, or benefits for seeking treatment or alternative therapies.

Once benefits have been paid within the policy limits, the critical illness insurance plan ends.

Since critical illness insurance plans provide coverage for common critical illnesses, the risk of which increases with age, they are well suited to the needs of the general population.

Cancer Care Plans—Who Are They For?

Intravenous infusion

Cancer insurance plans provide protection against the financial fallout that may arise from a cancer diagnosis.

These plans offer a lump sum payment once the cancer has been confirmed by a medical professional. Traditionally, payment is only triggered when the cancer is terminal. The policy then ends immediately thereafter.

However, cancer care plans with other payment structures have been introduced, allowing you to receive partial payment in the early stages of cancer. There may also be other benefits included; these vary from provider to provider, so it is advisable to do some comparison shopping before subscribing to a cancer plan.

Cancer care plans are targeted specifically for cancer only and may cover forms of cancer not included in a critical illness plan. As such, cancer care plans are best suited for people who are at higher risk for cancer (such as a family history of the disease).

Additionally, a cancer care plan can be a useful addition to your critical illness insurance plan. You can submit a claim under your cancer plan to deal with a cancer diagnosis and keep your critical illness claims for any other critical illness.

What to look for when reviewing these plans

Advance payment for cancer care

Hospital beds

Cancer care plans usually have prepayment clauses; this is when you can trigger the payment of your benefits, whether in part or in full, upon confirmation of a diagnosis of cancer at any stage.

This is helpful as it provides families with additional funds to deal with loss of income and other urgent financial needs.

Without this early payment clause, your insurer will only release the indemnity when the cancer is in the terminal phase or upon death.

Multiple Critical Illness Claims

multi-claim insurance

A relatively new subset of critical illness insurance plans are multi-claims plans. This variety of critical illness insurance plans allows you to make multiple claims on the same plan for various critical illnesses. You can also make claims for early, mid-stage, and late-stage illnesses.

The value of these plans lies in the ability to provide insurance protection beyond the first claim made for critical illness or serious illness; this is particularly useful for diseases such as certain cancers that have a moderate to high risk of recurrence.

Survival period

sick in hospital

Some critical illness and cancer insurance policies include a survival period (sometimes called a waiting period). This is a period of time that you must remain alive after diagnosis of a covered illness or condition before you can receive your payment.

The duration of the survival period can vary according to plans and insurers, but rarely exceeds 30 days. The shorter the survival period, the less likely your claims will be denied, especially if the diagnosis is only made at an advanced stage of the disease.


pills and money

Finally, the insurance must be affordable, which means that you must adapt your protection according to your budget.

If it’s too expensive to have both critical illness insurance and cancer care insurance, consider choosing critical illness first, as these types of plans offer broader coverage. You can add cancer care insurance when your finances allow it and/or when your risk of cancer increases with age.

Alternatively, opt for a lower sum assured at the start to help lower your premiums. You can increase your sums insured gradually over time.


Whether you choose a CMA plan or a cancer care plan ultimately comes down to your needs and affordability, whether you prefer broad-spectrum coverage or niche coverage. Whichever you choose, be sure to calculate your budget, make comparisons, and read the fine print.

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