critical illness
Nobody wants to get sick, but when it happens, you want to be prepared, especially when it comes to severe illness. Handling severe illness can cost a lot of money. Moreover, you may need someone to take care of you when you are truly sick, so the cost might get even higher.

One of the most popular ways to prepare for such circumstances is by getting an insurance that can cover your needs. For example is Critical Illness Plan.

However, many people are still confused about the difference between the terms Critical Illness and Terminal Illness. The terms may sound similar, but in Singapore they are defined differently.

It is important to understand about their differences because it will affect how you can receive the claims. An insurance plan always has a specific policy that binds the insured to meet certain condition before really being able to receive payouts. Imagine if you want to claim your insurance on Terminal Illness, but turns out you are deemed not eligible because your illness is actually categorized under Critical Illness. That would be very uncomfortable!

To help you understand the terms better, this article will show the differences between Critical Illness and Terminal Illness in Singapore.


Terminal illness is defined as an illness that can lead to death within 12 months. In order to know if you suffer Terminal Illness or not, you should receive a proper medical examination and receive an official diagnosis which later will be acknowledged by the insurance company.

The benefit to Terminal Illness insurance is usually similar to death insurance, which means that there will be payouts once you have passed away. It has the period of 12 months only. Some insurance companies even deem that one is eligible to receive claim only when their life span is diagnosed to last up to 6 months. This reminds you that you should really choose and check your insurance plan according to your needs.


While Critical Illness should also be diagnosed by an authorized medical practitioner, the difference with Terminal Illness is that it may or may not lead to death within 12 months. In order to receive payout, one has to meet the conditions under Critical Illness policy.

In 2003, Life Insurance Association Singapore created a standardized list of 30 illnesses that fall under category Critical Illness.  In 2014, it was renewed into consisting of 37 illnesses, adding Terminal Illness into the list. The list and the explanation are provided by General Insurance Association and can be checked on their website.

Here are the 37 Critical Illnesses:

  1. Major Cancers
  2. Heart Attack of Specified Severity
  3. Stroke
  4. Coronary Artery By-pass Surgery
  5. Kidney Failure
  6. Aplastic Anemia
  7. End Stage Lung Disease
  8. End Stage Liver Failure
  9. Coma
  10. Deafness (Loss of Hearing)
  11. Heart Valve Surgery
  12. Loss of Speech
  13. Major Burns
  14. Major Organ / Bone Marrow Transplantation
  15. Multiple Sclerosis
  16. Muscular Dystrophy
  17. Parkinson’s Disease
  18. Surgery to Aorta
  19. Alzheimer’s Disease / Severe Dementia
  20. Fulminant Hepatitis
  21. Motor Neuron Disease
  22. Primary Pulmonary Hypertension
  23. HIV Due to Blood Transfusion and Occupationally Acquired HIV
  24. Benign Brain Tumor
  25. Viral Encephalitis
  26. Bacterial Meningitis
  27. Angioplasty & Other Invasive Treatment For Coronary Artery
  28. Blindness (Loss of Sight)
  29. Major Head Trauma
  30. Paralysis (Loss of Use of Limbs)
  31. Terminal Illness
  32. Progressive Scleroderma
  33. Apallic Syndrome
  34. Systemic Lupus Erythematous with Lupus Nephritis
  35. Other Serious Coronary Artery Disease
  36. Poliomyelitis
  37. Loss of Independent Existence

Based on the research written by Gen Re on ‘Dread Disease Survey 2004 -2008’, the 5 illnesses that are most reported to receive claims (more than 90%) across Singapore are:

  1. Major Cancers
  2. Heart Attack of Specified Severity
  3. Coronary Artery By-pass Surgery
  4. Stroke
  5. Kidney Failure


Even though Terminal Illness is now categorized under Critical Illness, still the definition is the same and might still be confusing. By considering the difference, you will be able to decide which plan is the best for you to apply.

For Terminal Illness, you might want to apply just a term life policy, while for Critical Illness a life-long insurance is available to give lifetime payouts.

Whichever you choose, make sure that it is part of a well-thought planning because applying for insurance will affect your whole financial condition. Ensure that you read everything before applying and calculate thoroughly before making a commitment.

If you need help with financial planning and also how to choose the best Critical Illness plan for you, do contact us anytime. TheFinlens will help guide you whether you need to take full coverage plan or just partial, and which insurance company is the most suitable.

Remember to always be prepared, and don’t wait until it’s too late!


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