You may think critical illness insurance can provide financial support for your family, but if you are not careful, you will not be paid even if you suffer one of the defined critical illnesses.


Do you know if a person’s death happens immediately after a heart attack, even if he has a critical illness insurance, his or her family may not receive any payout from the insurer?

This is because there is a killing clause called “survival period” in some critical illness insurance policies. You may have never heard of it, but you really need to take note. Here is why…

People always jokingly say “you can die in Singapore but you cannot survive if you fall sick”, so some people purchase only critical illness coverage without death benefit. They either want to save some premium or they think death coverage is irrelevant to them.

However, unknown to many people, such standalone critical illness insurance policy normally has a clause called the “survival period”.

Critical illness survival period is usually defined as this

The survival period is the length of time you, the insured, must survive after you have been diagnosed with a covered critical illness. Once you have passed the survival period, the insurance benefit will be paid.

The length of survival period varies among different insurers, it can be 14 days or 30 days, etc.

In another word, If the insured person dies within the survival period, your family will not receive a critical illness insurance payout at all!

Why? Because critical illness insurance benefits are meant to be used by the insured as a living benefit to recover from illness, not a Death benefit.

Now you can think about it. Singapore’s top critical illness is cancer, but the second leading cause of mortality is heart disease. Heart disease accounted for 20.1% of deaths in Singapore in recent years, while cancer accounted for 29.3 percent. Many heart disease patient may not be able to pass the survival period.

Time to review your insurance policy

It is important to make sure that you purchase critical illness insurance as a rider of a life insurance. This clause will not apply to you because you are covered death benefit anyway.

If you have any more question about critical illness insurance, leave your comments below, I will try to help.

About the Author

Ivan Guan is the author of the popular book "FIRE Your Retirement". He is an independent financial adviser with more than a decade of knowledge and experience in providing financial advisory services to both individuals and businesses. He specializes in investment planning and portfolio management for early retirement. His blog provides practical financial tips, strategies and resources to help people achieve financial freedom. Follow his Telegram Channel to join the FIRE community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This does not reflect the official position of any agency, organization, employer or company. Refer to full disclaimers here.

  • Hi, Nice Article, Is is wise to by CI rider with term plan or with Health Insurance (Mediclaim). What is the benefit and what is difference in buying in either of them?

    • Hi, Dan

      The key difference is that health insurance covers hospitalization expense; CI rider covers the loss of income and other medical expenses which are not covered by health insurance (such as outpatient treatment, nursing home, experimental medicine, etc)

  • Hi Ivan I have a 30 years old friend who is looking for critical illness insurance, but because she has a lump in one of the breasts, the insurance co she approached will not cover both her breasts under the insurance, even though her doctor had done biosy and concluded benign lump. She was also told that even if she removed the lump, they will not cover her. This is strange because lumps in breasts are very common in women nowadays. May I know if this is a common practice or policy with Insurance companies here.

    • Hi, NL Lau

      Each insurer has their own way to assess the risk. Even if one insurer rejects your friend’s application, she can still try to apply to other insurers. But generally, most insurers are quite conservative if the applicant has “lump in the breast”.

  • Hi Ivan,

    I have an existing wholelife with GE and just recently purchase a Pruearly Stage Crisis. Does it suffice since it is like an alternative to having CI as a rider to life insurance?

  • I have CI coverage from more than 30yrs ago which does not cover early stage. Is it too late to buy CI coverage at age 48 as the premium will be rather high and usually it covers till age 75. With limited resources, should I instead use that for retirement policy?

    • Dear gn,

      I probably have to go through a proper insurance planning with you before I can answer this question. But here is how you can think about it: If in the event of a CI, your retirement fund is eroded by the hefty medical bills and long-term care cost, then you probably should have a CI cover.

      If your savings is sufficient to tide you over the period with CI, then you probably can consider self-insuring this risk.

  • Hi – Where is the latest write up on the critical illness coverage? early stage & etc..
    I would prefer to get myself insured both in CI (early,late & etc) & Death Benefits

  • my understanding accelerate Ci the Ci benefits accelerated wtih death benefits meanwhile for additional CI it have it own sum covered ie death sum Covered 100k and CI sum covered 100k which not related. if both have the same survival period it mean those buying the additional CI are paying for nothing right?

    • Hi, itor

      If you are buying additional CI benefit, you can claim both CI say 100K (if you survive after the survival period) and subsequent death benefit (another 100K). Total payout will be 200K.

      So it is not paying for nothing.

  • I’ve bought a life insurance that has a CI rider in 1998. Back then there were only less than 30 CIs covered. Is it possible to do a premium top up to include more illnesses or do we need to get a new policy?

  • But why there is survival period clause..if i m diagnosed with critical illness and have no money to survive till those mandate days then why should i buy this plan. What is need of this survival period.

    • Hi, Roshni

      Survival period is typically a short period of 14 days. It is not about “no money to survive”, what it means is that insurer will not pay if insured die immediately after diagnosis of critical illness.

      This is because critical illness insurance is a “living benefit” and it is hard to determine if death is indeed result from critical illness or other reasons.

  • Thanks for the useful info. I bought a critical illness plan recently and the financial advisor didn’t even tell me all that. Last weekend I got an independent person to review my plans (out of goodwill) and I found that I have over-insured. 🙁

  • Ace greenpack %33. Plan. Cheaper ?
    30 days to review ?
    Pls adv.this accident plan good?
    Hospitals bills like critical illness insurance?

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