How to select a good critical illness insurance cover?

The importance of health insurance seems to be on an all-time high with ever increasing medical cost, environmental hazards and deadly diseases.

How to select a  good critical illness insurance cover.

Over the last decade, people have started judiciously investing in health insurance policy that provides maximum health cover and benefits. However, with this awareness, there’s still a scope of improvement when it comes to critical insurance health plans. According to the Cancer Aid and Research Foundation, an Indian charitable organisation, it is estimated that approximately one million new cancer cases will be recorded every year and at any given time there will be three million cancer patients in India. Other statistics suggest that one in every 12 Indians is expected to get some form of cancer before they reach the age of 64. Recent studies suggest that one in three urban Indians have high blood pressure.

 In spite of having comprehensive health cover, group cover from employer, large number of people remains reluctant and ignored about the importance of critical illness cover from health insurance companies and consider it as an unnecessary investment. There are various kinds of policies available in the market, but the key lies in choosing the best and the most lucrative critical illness insurance policy.

Important factors that one should consider while purchasing a critical illness policy:


What is a critical illness?

Compared to ordinary health related issues, critical illness is a health related disorder of a serious nature. Critical illness can leave a patient’s body permanently and semi-permanently damaged compelling them to be financially, emotionally and physically dependent for the rest of their lives.

What is critical illness cover?

This is a comprehensive health cover plan that unlike others provides lump sum amount payout to the insured on diagnosis of a specific illness which is mentioned in the pre-defined list of diseases covered. 

What are the types of critical illnesses covered under health insurance policy?

Heart attack, cancer paralysis, coronary artery, bypass surgery, major organ transplant (e.g. heart, lung, liver, pancreas), stroke, kidney failure, major burns, deafness, loss of speech, fulminant viral hepatitis and other life threating diseases are covered under critical illness policy. However, before choosing the policy one should be aware of the exclusions. HIV AIDS, infertility treatment, pre-existing disorders, cosmetic surgery, treatment done outside India, illness due to intake of drugs, smoking and alcohol intake, self-inflicting injury, operation due to war and other non-life-threatening diseases are not covered under both comprehensive and critical illness cover. Critical illnesses diagnosed within first 90 days from the inception of policy and death within 30 days of diagnosis of critical illness or surgery also forms part of the exclusions, but may still vary depending on the policy.

Why it is important and its benefits whom?

The critical illness policy can be beneficial for individuals who are prone to certain health conditions, especially if they have a medical history and would not like to compromise with their health in future. Furthermore, sole breadwinners of families who cannot afford to take a chance with a sudden medical complication are candidates for a critical illness insurance policy. An ideal critical illness health plan can provide financial security at a time, when the individual would be hard pressed for funds to treat the illness as well worked up regarding the welfare of the family also.

What to consider before buying critical illness policy?

To avail maximum benefits and cover it’s imperative to know how to choose the right kind of policy in case of medical emergency tomorrow. Apart from inclusions and exclusions others factors to be seriously considered are the cost of the treatment, benefits offered, recurring cost, future financial liabilities, family history of illnesses, premium to be paid, claim-settlement ratio, standalone or rider, age-group etc. Furthermore, some critical illness plans available in the market are particularly designed keeping in mind the special needs of women and senior citizens.

The act of balancing

A comprehensive health care plan is little expensive as compared to a critical illness, but covers a wide range of risks rather than only focusing on specific ailments. One can buy critical illness policy as a standalone policy or either combines critical illness riders with existing life and health insurance plans. But, choice of it would purely depend on the nature of the requirement. "A Rs 5 lakh indemnity cover along with a Rs 10-15 lakh critical illness cover should be a decent mix," says Mukesh Kumar, head of strategic planning, HDFC ERGO.

Critical illness can strike anyone, and at any given time, and thus it’s better to be prepared in advance to stay safe and secured in this ever changing and challenging environment.

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