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Life Insurers Change Definitions of Critical Illnesses from Aug 2020: Should You Get a CI Plan Now? – Updated 30 July 2020

Life Insurers Change Definitions of Critical Illnesses from Aug 2020

Last Updated on by Tree of Wealth

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Like most working adults, you probably already have health and life insurance plans, but are you covered for critical illnesses? 

If you don’t, it’s a good time to seriously consider getting a plan because the Life Insurance Association Singapore has established a new framework with tighter definitions to be rolled out in August 2020. 

Simply put, it will come with stricter definitions for most of the critical illnesses. Let’s understand the changes first. 

“Critical Illness” definition changes by LIA 2020

You and I may have different definitions of “critical illness”, but insurers accept claims based on specific definitions on what exactly a critical illness is. 

From August 2020, LIA will make changes to CI definitions mainly in the areas of major cancer, heart attack of specified severity, stroke with permanent neurological deficit, coronary artery bypass surgery and end-stage kidney failure.

This is because according to LIA’s research, over 90% of all severe stage claims were due to the above five critical illnesses.

Out of the 37 critical illnesses defined under the LIA framework, changes will be implemented to the 14 headers and 21 definitions. 

Key highlights of CI definition changes 

    • Stricter, more exclusions for benign brain tumour, coma, stroke, aplastic anaemia, heart attack and major cancers and other diseases. 
    • More requirements to prove claims. For instance, serious coronary artery disease will require invasive procedures. Viral encephalitis, poliomyelitis all require diagnostic tests. 
    • “Major Cancers” to revise to “Major Cancer”, and diagnosis cannot be based on finding tumour cells and/or tumour-associated molecules in blood, saliva, faeces, urine, or any other bodily fluids. 
    • Heart Attack of Specified Severity: Death of heart muscle revised to death of heart muscle due to ischaemia
    • “Stroke” revised to Stroke with Permanent Neurological Deficit. Secondary haemorrhage within a pre-existing cerebral lesion added to list of exclusions. 
    • Kidney Failure revised to End Stage Kidney Failure 
    • Parkinson’s Disease revised to Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease
    • Surgery to Aorta revised to Open Chest Surgery to Aorta 
    • New inclusion of Thalassaemia Major or Haemophilia due to a blood transfusion. 
    • Viral encephalitis revised to Severe Encephalitis. However, all causes of encephalitis are included, not just viral causes. 
    • Apallic Syndrome revised to Persistent Vegetative State (Apallic Syndrome) 
    • The addition of “irreversible” to deafness, blindness, aplastic anaemia, paralysis. This means such diseases are harder to claim as you have to prove its chronic and irreversible nature. 

For the full list of changes, check LIA Definitions of Critical Illnesses: Comparison between Version 2014 and Version 2019.  

Summary of Changes – Updated 22 June 2020

Life Insurers Change Definitions of Critical Illnesses from Aug 2020 - Life Insurers Change Definitions of Critical Illnesses from Aug 2020 summary of CI changes
source: LIA

Insurers’ Cut-Off Application Dates – Updated 30 July 2020

Singlife  25 July 2020
Aviva  25 Aug 2020
Tokio Marine  25 Aug 2020
AIA  20 Aug 2020
NTUC Income  18 Aug 2020
China Taiping  19 Aug 2020

How do the changes in critical illness definition affect you? 

For one, the definitions will become more narrow, making it harder to claim. Also, it might be more challenging for you to get a critical illness plan. 

Specifically, there are more exclusions for benign brain tumour, coma, stroke, heart attack, major cancers and others. For deafness, blindness and aplastic anaemia, the term “irreversible” has been added. 

On the other hand, those suffering from haemophilia and Thalassaemia Major can now get covered. All causes of viral encephalitis can be claimed as well. 

If you already have an existing CI policy, not to worry. You will not be impacted by the changes as your existing policy will still follow the 2014 CI Framework. However, take this opportunity to review the policies that you currently have to ensure that you have the right coverage. 

For those without an existing CI plan, you have until 26 August 2020 next year to get coverage under the 2014 CI Framework, which is more lenient. 

Why are they changing the definitions now? 

The changes to the definitions of critical illnesses under the 2019 CI Framework hope to address any ambiguity in definitions. The changes take into account recent medical advancements and trends in healthcare. 

It is hoped that the standardisation of critical illness definitions will provide greater transparency for customers to easily assess and compare the different plans available. In other words, there is greater assurance that the claim will not be rejected by one insurer and accepted by another. 

The last time such a major change in Critical Illness definition was made in 2014, under the 2014 CI Framework. From 26 August 2020, the life insurance industry will follow the 2019 CI Framework. 

If you get a critical illness plan before 26 August 2020, your policy will follow the 2014 CI Framework. 

Okay, so you decide that you want to get critical illness coverage ahead of August 2020. Unclear about which critical illness insurance plan to get? Contact us here at or simply fill below and our friendly licensed FA advisor will get in touch with you.

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