Last week, I covered some of the ‘newer’ Critical Illnesses that were introduced to the Life Insurance Association’s framework in 2009. The purpose of writing that article is to point out that prior to 2009, there were only 30 Critical Illnesses compared to today’s 36 [excluding Terminal Illness].
These 6 conditions are a veritable treasure trove of horrors.
With their inclusion on the CI list, along with the introduction of ECI post-2010, Critical illnesses that used to be killers can now be remedied. So it’s important to understand why they were introduced in the first place, and what they are.
Gender has always been a consistent differentiator for CI, but Age has been the surprising factor here. Not every CI has risk that scales with age, which makes getting your children covered from a young age even more important.
Outside of these article, I also learnt about the earlier definitions of CIs actually made claims easier. I.e. it's now more challenging to claim for a CI.
Since the first article was published, I've had quite a constructive discussion with commenters as well as received some private messages about a review (thank you for the support!).
With that, Welcome to Part II.
4. Loss of Independent Existence
Scientific Definition: A condition resulting from a disease, illness or injury whereby the life insured is unable to perform (whether aided or unaided) at least 3 of the following 6 "Activities of Daily Living" (ADL), for a continuous period of 6 months.
The ADLs are Washing, Dressing, Feeding, Toileting, Mobility and Transferring. You can refer to the MOH website for the full list of ADLs and their definitions.
Otherwise known as (English Translation): Being unable to do some of the daily actions we take for granted independently.
Likely Age Group/Contraction: Predictably, older adults; increases with age.
Likely Reason for Contraction: Aging, increasing wear and tear of the body. Effect can be accelerated (e.g. weak bones lead to a fall leading to even weaker bones).
Most closely related with: Total and Permanent Disability, for fairly obvious reasons.
What people may miss out when trying to claim:
The word ‘aided’ isn’t very helpful to your claim. The definition means with the aid of special equipment, device and/or apparatus and not human aid. Even having a not-very-helpful wheelchair can negate 1 out of 6 ADLs on your list (mobility).
Scientific Definition: A highly contagious virus that attacks the nervous system, infecting a person’s brain and spinal cord eventually causing paralysis throughout the body.
Otherwise known as (English Translation): Polio.
Likely Age Group/Contraction: Children under 5, as well as those living under generally unsanitary conditions.
Most closely related with: Pretty much any highly contagious virus that you SHOULD vaccinate yourself against, multiple times, as a baby or toddler.
What people may miss out when trying to claim: Out of all the Cis on the list, Polio is the most unlikely CI you could get. If you contract this, you seriously have the worst luck. Polio has no cure, and 75% of the time you will see no symptoms until it paralyzes your major organs into failing.
If you’re looking at doing some seriously adventurous overseas travel, you might be in danger of contracting it. I’m not referring to mountain climbing, but visiting areas where medical services are almost non-existent.
Otherwise, the annual rate of polio contraction is presently about a double-digit out of hundreds of million people. You are only slightly less likely to win the lottery than you are to contract polio.
6. Other Serious Coronary Artery Damage
Scientific Definition: The narrowing of the lumen of at least one coronary artery by a minimum of 75% and two others by at least 60%.
Otherwise known as (English Translation): Having clogged arteries a.k.a. The MOST IMPORTANT reason to update your CI coverage.
Likely Age Group/Contraction: Risk scales with aging, but also associated with habits ranging from an unhealthy diet to smoking and unfortunate ingestions as a child.
Artery blockage is attributed as 75% of the reason a stroke occurs, which is the 4th leading cause of death in diseases and Number 1 cause of cardiovascular failure - heart disease.
Most closely related with: Angioplasty (and Other Invasive Treatment for Coronary Artery, which really deserves an article to itself for its infamy). Also, stroke.
What people may miss out when trying to claim: Coronary arteries are neither carotid arteries nor coronary veins. Coronary arteries refer to the left main stem, left anterior descending, circumflex and right coronary arteries.
It is likely that any surgery will be very painful and invasive for late-stage diagnoses.
a) Stay healthy
While some of these diseases are incurable with neither prevailing symptoms nor prevention methods, the majority of them can be avoided simply by staying healthy. This means minding your diet, weight and vices like alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
b) Every disease covered under your insurance matters, small or large.
On the Critical Illness list, there are CIs that have:
Very obvious symptoms and a ridiculously high contraction risk, and
Neither visible symptoms nor cure, but you are (almost) perfectly safe from.
Insurance is all about protecting yourself against the probability of contracting anything and everything, and each disease has been carefully selected.
c) CI policies will continue to get updated and upgraded
The LIA requires every insurance company in Singapore to have a CI policy with core 37 illnesses. However, some companies go one step further, offering CI policies carrying coverage for additional ones such as Elephantiasis, Cystic disease and variants for more common conditions like Leukaemia.
This is not even considering the development in Early Critical Illness policies, which triple your coverage or allow Multi-Pay coverage*.
*Multi-Pay coverage allows you to reset your insurance benefits after a claim so that you can claim for related diseases, conditions resulting from your medical treatment or a recurring disease situation.
d) Your CI policy may be obsolete
What if you could claim fully on your policy - ideally, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cold hard cash - even though you are only incapable of doing one Activities of Daily Living instead of three?
What if you contract a CI as well as its related disease due to the damage the first disease has already done to an organ?
Levity aside, serious coronary artery damage increases stroke risk to 75% , which increases your risk of contracting Apallic Syndrome and then finally, you end up with Total and Permanent Disability.
And what if you contract a CI, and it’s still at a reversible stage – but you can’t claim because it does not fit the adequate definition?
With advancements in Singapore's MedTech, these are not unlikely scenarios but rather, inevitabilities.
There’s a good chance your CI policy is obsolete, and if you’re not sure, the best way to ensure your security is to get it reviewed.
I hope that everything I share here can help boost your awareness of how secure you are, financially and insurance-wise.
Here are some of my resources on:
3) Retirement and Leverage: Leveraging a Private Annuity, Pros and Cons (ft. Jamus Lim)
4) Spending and Saving: The Biggest Spending Mistakes You DIDNT Even Know you were Making (and how to avoid them)
5) Job Assessment: A Case Study on How a $6k/mth Girl makes MUCH more money than a $10k/mth Guy
6) Financial Optimisation: How I Avoid the Largest 'Fees' of All
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