Man pondering if critical illness insurance is necessary in Singapore.

Is Critical Illness insurance necessary?

Is critical illness insurance important, and how much critical illness cover do you really need in Singapore?

The latest Life Insurance Association (LIA) 2022 Protection Gap Study shows that each Singaporean working adult has an average critical illness (CI) protection gap of 74% or S$264,586.

The recommended critical illness protection you should get is about 4 times of your annual income.

This helps you with household expenses and outstanding debt payments during the period of recovery from a critical illness.

What is Critical Illness insurance?

Critical illness (CI) insurance typically insures you for the risk of developing any of the 37 specified critical illnesses defined by the LIA, such as major cancer, heart attack and stroke.

If you are diagnosed with a CI that’s covered by your CI plan, you will receive a lump sum payout from your insurer.

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

Hospitalized patient is glad that he has critical illness policy coverage to cope with hospital bills.

Why is Critical Illness Insurance Important?

1. Chances of getting a critical illness in Singapore: The odds are higher than you think

  • Cancer: From 2017-2021, cancer was the #1 cause of death in Singapore, accounting for 28.2% of all deaths. Cancer incident rates have risen over the years with 1 in 4 Singaporeans expected to develop cancer in their lifetime.
  • Heart attack: Ischaemic heart disease was the second most common cause of death in 2021. Heart attack, is a type of ischaemic heart disease. In Singapore, the number of heart attack episodes increased from 8,014 in 2011 to 12,403 in 2021.
  • Stroke: A stroke occurs when there is a disruption of blood flow to the brain, depriving the area of blood & damaging it. The number of stroke episodes in Singapore has increased from 6,143 episodes in 2011 to 9,680 episodes in 2021.
*Data from the National Registry of Diseases Office (NRDO), Singapore


2. Critical illness insurance vs. Health insurance: Hospitalisation insurance isn’t a substitute for CI insurance

You might be wondering: why get CI insurance when you already have MediSave, MediShield Life or your own private/company hospitalisation & surgical insurance coverage?

Hospitalisation insurance covers your hospitalisation expenses and treatment costs, including relapses. While it does mitigate your medical costs to a great extent, there are some limitations. For instance, you usually can’t claim for anything outside of your medical expenses or treatment such as loss of income. Integrated Shield Plans typically cover post-hospitalisation only for up to a year. For MediSave, there are also caps to how much you can utilise it for each type of procedure.

On the other hand, CI insurance is a lump sum payout that gives you the flexibility on how you want to use it. For example, you can use it for your family’s living expenses while you take a break from work during your recovery phase. You can also use it to pay for medical needs that are not covered by your hospitalisation insurance. Some CI insurance may provide multiple payouts in the event of a CI relapse.

3. Critical Illness insurance benefits: It lets you focus your mind on recovery

Dealing with a CI isn’t just physically and emotionally exhausting. It can also be financially draining. With critical illness insurance, the payout helps take care of your finances and loss of income so that you can focus on recovery. Some CI plans may cover your Intensive Care Unit (ICU) stay.

4. Cost of Critical Illness cover: CI coverage is not as expensive and complicated as you may think

If cost is the reason why you are not getting CI insurance, you might be surprised by its affordability. Getting CI coverage does not need to be out of your budget or complicated. You can start with getting a standalone CI policy or a term life policy with CI rider to cover your working years first.

For a more in-depth understanding of CI insurance, check out our Understanding Critical Illness Insurance article.

Two ladies looking at their Plan & Invest tab in digibank to calculate their protection gap.

How much Critical Illness coverage do you need: Where to begin

The first step is to understand what is your personal CI insurance gap is.

If you are not sure how much coverage you need or need a refresher, the CI calculator in your Plan & Invest tab in digibank will come in very handy.

All you need to do is key in your number of dependents, savings, and existing insurance. Plan & Invest tab in digibank then crunches the numbers for you, to produce a personalised report for you that includes your critical illness protection gap (if any).

Meanwhile, we want to be sure that you have some basic insurance coverage because the unexpected can strike anyone, at anytime.

Get 6 months of complimentary1 critical illness insurance coverage, on us. Use promo code PROTECTME to get your free ProtectFirst plan by 30 June 2024.

  • Receive coverage for the big 5 critical illnesses (including early stage cancer)2, serious accidents and death
  • Absolutely free. No hidden costs and no premium deductions will be made from you
  • Your 6 months of complimentary coverage starts from the date that Manulife issues your policy and ends automatically at the end of 6 months

DBS has partnered with major insurers in Singapore to make health insurance easily accessible online for purchase. You can now independently learn, compare and buy a plan most suited to your own needs. Find out more on DBS Health Marketplace.

You may also wish to speak to the Wealth Planning Manager today for a financial health check and how you can better plan your finances.

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Alternatively, check out Plan & Invest tab in digibank to analyse your real-time financial health. The best part is, it’s fuss-free – we automatically work out your money flows and provide money tips.

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1 Promotion terms and conditions apply. Your coverage is subject to policy terms and conditions. Please refer to the product summary for more information.

2 You will receive 100% of the critical illness (CI) coverage amount in the event of advanced stage cancer, heart attack, stroke, liver failure or major organ/bone marrow transplant. 25% of the CI coverage amount can be paid in advance for early or intermediate stage, and remaining CI coverage amount to be payable upon advanced stage. Once 100% of the CI sum insured has been paid, this benefit will terminate, and premium reduces.

The information herein is published by DBS Bank Ltd (“DBS Bank”) and is for general information only and should not be relied upon as financial advice. This publication may not be reproduced, or communicated to any other person without prior written permission. This website does not take into account the specific investment objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Before entering into any transaction involving any product mentioned in this website, where applicable, you should seek advice from a financial adviser regarding its suitability for your own objectives and circumstances. If you choose not to do so, you should make an independent assessment and do your own due diligence on the product. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The website herein is not intended for distribution to, or use by, any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation.

In Collaboration with Manulife
ProtectFirst is issued and underwritten by Manulife (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (“Manulife”) (Reg. No. 198002116D) and distributed by DBS. It is not an obligation of, deposit in or guaranteed by DBS.

Terms and conditions apply, please refer to product summary for more information. The benefits payable under the serious accident coverage benefit are subject to the occurrence of an accident during the policy period.

This policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (“SDIC”). Coverage for the policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact Manulife or visit the Life Insurance Association or SDIC websites ( or

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