Hundreds of thousands of Canadians suffer from serious illnesses each year. Thanks to the advance of modern medicine, the vast majority of these people will survive. Recovery is often expensive and can take a long time. Life insurance won't help. That's where critical illness insurance comes in.

What's the chance I will suffer a critical illness?

You hear about it everyday in the news - cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and more. But what are the chances that any of these diseases will affect you in your lifetime? Unfortunately, better than you think when you consider*:

  • 40,000 to 50,000 Canadians yearly have a stroke
  • 75,000 Canadians yearly have a heart attack
  • 1 in 3 women in Canada will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime
  • 2 in 5 men in Canada will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime
  • In 2001, there were 364,000 Canadians affected with Alzheimer's and related dementias and this is expected to double in the next 30 years
  • Nearly 100,000 Canadians have Parkinson's disease (that's 1 in 300)

What is critical illness insurance?

It's a unique kind of insurance - the focus is on living. Critical illness insurance provides a lump sum payment and the money can be used for anything you wish, including:

  • Replacement of lost income
  • Keeping a business going during your crucial recovery period
  • Paying off a mortgage
  • Reducing debt incurred during your illness
  • Renovating your home to accommodate a disability or relocating
  • Protecting savings and assets from being spent on recovery
  • Paying medical expenses or the cost of rehabilitation

What's considered a critical illness varies by company and policy, but usually includes the big three - cancer, heart attack and stroke - as well as:

  • Coronary artery by-pass surgery
  • Kidney failure
  • Major organ failure
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Loss of speech

  • Paralysis
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Coma
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Occupational HIV
  • Finally, to make a claim on a critical illness policy you usually have to live through a 'survival period' of 30 days.

    The costs of critical illness coverage

    The price of a critical illness policy greatly depends on your current health and your family's medical history. But even then, policies and prices will be different from company to company.

    The Kanetix critical illness comparison quoter will show you the rates and also highlight some of the differences between the companies and their policies.

    For more information about critical illness coverage, see the Kanetix article "Insurance for the living - critical illness insurance increases in popularity."

    * Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, 2002; Canadian Cancer Society, 2002; and Parkinson Society of Canada.

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