As we achieve greater medical advancements, more and more people are surviving critical illnesses once considered beyond treatment. Although survival rates have increased, so have the costs for recovery. Government health plans may not provide coverage for all treatments or medicines and if you need to make modifications to your house (e.g. make it wheelchair accessible) or require daily care at home, you may find yourself exhausting your savings in order to cover these costs.

What is critical illness insurance?

Critical illness insurance is a unique product designed to help you with the cost of surviving a life threatening illness. Probably the most attractive feature of critical illness insurance (and what makes it different from other insurance plans) is that you receive a lump sum payment. You receive the money when you need it most and have enough to cover some of the large bills that recovery may incur. There is no month-to-month budget juggling involved.

What's considered a critical illness can vary by company and policy, but usually include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart bypass surgery
  • Kidney failure
  • Major organ transplant
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Loss of speech
  • Paralysis
  • ALS - aka Lou Gehrig's Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Coma
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Occupational HIV

To make a claim on a critical illness policy you usually have to live through a 'survival period' of 30 days. If you passed away before the 30-day period, your life insurance would still be available to your beneficiary.


Another benefit of a critical illness policy is that the payments are unrestricted. This means you can use the money for anything you wish. You may choose to put it all, or partially, towards your recovery and rehabilitation.

For more information about critical illness coverage, see the Kanetix article "Medical advancements mean critical illness insurance more important than ever".

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