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Critical Illness Insurance Policy

Understand the Benefits and Limitations of Critical Illness Insurance Coverage

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Home / Health Insurance / Critical Illness Insurance

What is a Critical Illness Cover?
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Health insurance schemes have an added security known as the critical illness cover. This policy pays a lump sum as soon as a severe illness listed in the policy is diagnosed, unlike traditional health insurance that focuses on hospitalisation expenses.

The critical illness cover pays you a lump sum cash payment when you are diagnosed with one of the critical illnesses on the list. This money can then be used for treatment or recovery expenses. It is meant to ease the financial burden at an already difficult time. The payout amount and included critical illnesses vary by insurer and policy.

Why is Critical Illness Insurance important?
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Here are the reasons why Critical Illness insurance is important.

How does a Critical Illness Policy work?
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Here's how it works:

  1. Purchase the Policy: You need to first buy a Critical Illness Policy from an insurance company. The coverage amount is determined by requirements and financial capabilities.

  2. Choose Covered Illnesses: Critical Illness Policies generally provide coverage for certain severe diseases. These may include cancer, heart attack, stroke, renal failure or major organ transplantation. Review and choose one of the listed policies that cover the illnesses you are most worried about.

  3. Waiting Period: Before making a claim for a critical illness, there is always a cooling off or a waiting period after buying the policy. However, during this period, no claim will be allowed. It is necessary to know about this waiting time.

  4. Diagnosis and Treatment: If you are diagnosed with a covered critical illness while within the defined waiting period you may claim. Since the insurance company will need medical records to ascertain the correctness of the diagnosis. After the approval, you shall be paid in full. 

  5. No Restrictions on Usage: The payouts from the insurance cover are generally meant for costs related to the patient’s disease. These can include medical treatment, hospital bills, rehab, and even daily living costs in case you cannot work.

  6. Premium Payments: You must ensure that you make timely payments for premiums lest the policy becomes dormant. Failure to make payment by a stipulated period may lead to the policy lapsing and you may lose your coverage.

  7. Renewal and Review: Such policies normally operate on a short-term basis and can be renewed when their validity period expires. Other policies may even need a  health health review after some time, enabling one to upgrade to new coverage in case of changes in health status.

Features of Critical Illness Insurance Plans
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Let's delve into the key aspects of Critical Illness Insurance Plans.

  1. Comprehensive Coverage: Critical illness is where a person is covered for specific conditions such as cancers, heart attacks, strokes and organ transplants among others. Thus, policyholders are sure of getting support during tough times.

  2. Lump Sum Payout: Critical Illness Insurance pays one lump sum amount upon the diagnosis of an illness covered by such insurance plan against a typical health insurance plan that reimburses medical expenses. This reduces the expenses that policyholders may incur including medical bills, rehabilitation and lifestyle changes.

  3. No Medical Bills Required: The Critical Illness Insurance plans do not need a reimbursement of all related medical bills that the insured may have incurred. The payment is made in lump sum upon diagnosis of the disease, making the claims process easier for those who are already focusing on the recovery.

  4. Waiting Period: The majority of Critical Illness Insurance policies come with a period of waiting, usually 90 days before you can receive the cover. This helps to make sure that pre-existing conditions are not covered right away, promoting people to get the cover while healthy.

  5. Survival Period: There is always a survival period, during which the policyholder has to survive several days after being diagnosed in order to avoid fraudulent claims. This represents a significant time frame among policies, which has to be taken into account for one to select a policy.

  6. Renewability and Premiums: In addition to it, the critical illness insurance plans are normally renewable enabling people to continue with cover in old age. Although premiums might go up with age, there are certain plans that offer fixed premiums for the purposes of budgeting.

  7. Rider Options: Additional riders also enable policyholders to increase or enhance their coverage. Likewise, there is a waiver of premium rider that may waive paying premiums if the insured is diagnosed with any critical illness.

Advantages of Critical Illness health Insurance
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Here are the advantages of Critical Illness health Insurance.


Shielding Your Finances from the Unexpected
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Imagine having a financial ally when faced with the daunting challenges of severe illnesses like cancer, heart attacks, or strokes. Critical illness insurance steps in as your safeguard, preventing the depletion of your savings during the costly treatment of these ailments.


Instant Financial Support
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In contrast to standard healthcare policies, Critical Illness Insurance offers a unique benefit – a lump sum payout upon the diagnosis of a covered disease. This financial boost can cover everything from medical fees to rehabilitation costs and even essential needs during your treatment journey.


A Helping Hand Alongside Regular Coverage
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Consider it as a backup to your primary healthcare insurance. While regular health insurance handles hospital bills, critical illness insurance steps up to address the specific financial challenges that come with life-threatening illnesses.


Freedom to Decide
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The beauty of this insurance lies in your hands. You have the freedom to decide how to use the payout – whether it's for medical expenses, alternative treatments, or covering household bills. Your priorities, your call.


No Limits on Healthcare Choices
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With Critical Illness Insurance, you're not confined to a select group of network hospitals. You have the liberty to choose the facility and healthcare providers that perfectly align with your unique needs, offering a range of options beyond specialised treatments.


Relieving the Burden on Your Loved Ones
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Facing a critical illness is not just emotionally challenging; it takes a toll on your family's finances too. Critical Illness Insurance provides peace of mind to your loved ones, offering support when they need it the most.

Tax Benefits under a Critical Illness Insurance Policy
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Let's break down the tax benefits under a critical illness insurance policy in the realm of health insurance.



Premium PaymentsPremiums paid towards critical illness policies are free from taxes subject to certain limits . 
Family CoverageFamily floater plan deductions available. Rs. 25,000 limit if all family members are below 60 years; Rs. 50,000 limit if family members are  senior citizens.
Critical Illness RiderCovers specific essential illnesses. Premiums attract tax deduction under Section 80D.
Preventive Health Check-upDeduct expenses related to preventive health screenings. Vital for detecting critical illnesses not explicitly insured against. Indirect costs, including check-up expenses, can be deducted.

Illnesses Covered under Critical Illness Insurance Plans
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Here are the common illnesses covered under a Critical Illness Insurance plan.


Coverage Details

CancerCovers various types of cancer. Assists with high treatment costs, including surgery.
Heart AttackFinancial support for medical bills and recovery expenses in the event of a heart attack.
StrokeRehabilitation, medical bill coverage, and assistance with lifestyle adjustments post-stroke.
Kidney FailureOne-time settlement for costs related to dialysis, transplantation, and follow-ups in case of kidney failure.
Organ TransplantCoverage for major organ transplants such as heart, lung, liver, and kidneys. Eases financial burden associated with transplantation costs.
Multiple SclerosisFinancial support for treatment and care of illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis.
ParalysisLump sum payout for medical costs, rehabilitation, and modifications to living areas in case of paralysis.
Major Organ FailureCovers treatment costs for organ failures like liver or lung failure.
ComaPays for medical treatment expenses if the insured person falls into a coma.
Coronary Artery Bypass SurgeryCoverage for costs incurred during coronary artery bypass surgery, a treatment for severe heart conditions.

Exclusions of a Critical Illness Insurance Policy
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Below are some of the common exclusions of a Critical Illness Insurance policy. Nevertheless, go through the policy document to find out the exact exclusions.

Critical Illness Insurance Plan vs. Health Insurance Plan
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Here is a table that lists the differences between a Critical illness and an Health Insurance Plan.


Critical Illness Insurance Plan

Health Insurance Plan

PurposeCovers specific, major illnesses like cancer, heart attack, etc.Provides coverage for a broader range of medical expenses, including hospitalisation, surgeries, etc.
Payout StructureLump sum payment upon diagnosis of a critical illnessReimbursement or direct payment for medical expenses as per the policy coverage
CoverageLimited to predefined critical illnesses specified in the policyComprehensive coverage for hospitalisation, doctor visits, medicines, and other medical expenses
Survival PeriodTypically, a survival period is required after diagnosis (e.g., 30 days)No specific survival period required for most medical expenses
RenewabilityGenerally renewable, but premiums may increase with ageRenewable throughout life, with premiums often increasing with age or as per policy terms
Use of FundsCan be used for any purpose, not limited to medical expensesPrimarily intended for covering medical expenses related to illness or injury
Preventive CareDoes not cover routine check-ups or preventive careMay cover preventive care, vaccinations, and wellness check-ups depending on the policy
Waiting PeriodTypically has a waiting period for pre-existing conditionsMay have a waiting period for certain conditions as per policy terms
CostPremiums may be higher compared to health insurance due to specialised coveragePremiums may be comparatively lower, but depend on factors like age, health condition, and coverage
Recommended ScenarioIdeal for individuals concerned about major illnesses and seeking financial support for treatmentSuitable for overall health coverage, including regular medical expenses and unforeseen emergencies

How to buy a Critical Illness Plan online
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Here are the steps to buy a Critical Illness plan online.

Step 1: Research and Compare Plans

Start by researching different insurance companies that provide Critical Illness Insurance Plans in India. Use search engines and visit insurers' websites, or reach out to them via email. Get a plan that is not only affordable but also offers better coverage..

Step 2: Go through the terms

Go through the terms and conditions of the Critical illness plan before coming to a decision. Ensure that you note the diseases covered, waiting periods and exclusions. By doing so, you will be able to make an informed decision and avoid any unexpected issues in the future.

Step 3: Compare online

Use online insurance aggregators for the comparison of several plans at the same point. These make it easier for you to find a suitable Critical Illness Plan as they provide a direct comparison of different Critical Illness Plans side by side.

Step 4: Calculate the Premium

There are web-based online calculators available on most insurance websites to assist you in arriving at the premium cost for preferred Critical Illness Plan. Kindly enter your age, sum assured (if applicable) and any other rider(s) you wish for an accurate premium quote.

Step 5: Please fill in the online application form.

Choose a plan and move to your insurer’s website where you will fill in an online application form. Make sure you have correct and credible information as it may be of vital importance at the latter stages of your claim process. Ensure that you will also have the necessary documents ready for upload.

Step 6: Medical Examination if Required

Depending on your age or health some insurers may request a medical examination. The insurer will lead you through the procedure. Some insurance companies also provide policies where medical examination is not required hence enhancing convenience and speed of access.

Step 7: Review and Confirm

Ensure you understand all the information provided by the insurer before making payment. Be sure to pay attention to the terms and make a payment only when you are content with the offerings of the plan.

Step 8: Make the Payment

Use any of the online payment options available and complete your payment for the Critical Illness Plan. Most insurance companies will accept payment by credit/debit cards, net banking, and digital wallets.

How to choose the best Critical Illness Insurance Cover?
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The following are some tips to choose the best Critical Illness Insurance cover.

  1. Understand Your Needs: It is important to examine your health requirements before buying any policies. For instance, take into account factors like the family medical history, lifestyle, and any prevailing health issues. By having this understanding, you will choose the right type of plan to suit your needs.

  2. Choose for comprehensive coverage: Check for comprehensive coverage related to diseases. Include common diseases like cancer, heart diseases, kidney diseases, among others. Complete coverage of common health problems would financially protect you.

  3. Choose sufficient Sum insured: The sum insured is the highest amount that the insurer will pay in the event of a claim. Select a sum insured appropriate to possible medical costs. However, in India, medical costs are not uniform and thus one should choose a sum insured that is sufficient. 

  4. Look for a shorter waiting period:Go for waiting periods that are shorter especially if you are suffering from pre-existing conditions. Make sure you are familiar with the provisions whereby a few policies may have a waiting period for certain types of illnesses.

  5. Survival Period: Look at the waiting time following diagnosis of a critical illness.The survival period should be short to provide timely support.

  6. Renewal Age: Seek a renewal age that is higher, thus assuring you will be covered up in your older years. Opt for a policy that you can stay with longer to cater for future health issues. 

  7. Claim Process: Evaluate the simplicity of claims. Choose insurance providers who have easy and quick claims processes. Efficient and trouble-free claims may give you comfort at trying times.

  8. Premiums: Check premiums among various insurance companies. Although a low premium may seem appealing, do not compromise on coverage. There should be a good balance between affordability and comprehensive coverage.

  9. Riders and Add-ons: Also, you can take your time and consider more riders or add-ons to increase your cover. Such policies include critical illness riders that are crucial for broader cover.

  10. Read Reviews and Seek Recommendations: Look up customer reviews and ask for advice from a friend or family that has already a customer. The reliability and service quality of an insurer may be revealed by real-life incidents.

Who should purchase a Critical Illness Policy?
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Buying a Critical Illness plan will be beneficial for the following people.


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A Critical illness policy is a lifesaver for the primary earner in your family. It pays in advance if diagnosed with a serious illness to help take care of your family in difficult circumstances. Having a critical illness policy to pay out a lump sum amount upon diagnosis helps safeguard income needs for expenses like loans, children's education, etc., during the recovery phase.


Self-Employed Individuals
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A critical illness policy can provide some cushioning to protect your interests on the business side of things so you can concentrate on recovery. A payout from the critical illness policy acts as a fallback to handle both personal medical expenditures and tide over dips in revenues from your venture while you undergo treatment and recuperation.


Young Professionals
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Contrary to the common perception, critical illnesses are not age-specific. They too are vulnerable and a policy should be put in place early to cushion one against unforeseen health problems.


Individuals with Family History of Critical Illness
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People who have a family history should opt for a Critical Illness cover. This is because, the likelihood of the same diseases increases if family members have been diagnosed in the past.


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Medical bills also tend to eat up your savings upon retirement. This plan protects your retirement fund from medical emergencies and guarantees that they do not drain you of the stability you had achieved.


Parents with Dependent Children
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Children’s welfare always comes first with parents. A Critical Illness Policy enables you to provide your child with necessary financial aid and also fulfil other responsibilities such as education and food supplies even if you can’t work because of the serious disease.

How to file a claim for a Critical Illness Insurance Policy?
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Follow the below steps to raise a Critical Illness Insurance claim. Also, note that the process may differ from insurer to insurer.

Step 1: Once you are diagnosed with a critical illness that is covered under your policy, inform your insurer and register a claim.

Step 2: Submit the necessary documents to file a claim.

Step 3: Based on the terms of the policy and the submitted details, the insurer will either accept or decline your claim.

Documents required for raising a claim
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The following are the documents that are usually required for raising a Critical Illness Insurance claim.

Note: Your insurer may require more documents depending upon the nature of the claim.

What are the Documents Required at the Time of Critical Illness Insurance Claim?
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The following table lists the documents you might need to raise a claim.

Document Type


Claim FormComplete the claim form issued by the insurance company with accurate information.
Medical CertificateObtain a medical certificate from the attending doctor, specifying diagnosis, seriousness, and prescribed medication.
Discharge Summary (if applicable)Include the hospital discharge summary detailing the duration of hospitalisation, treatment, and any operations performed.
Investigation ReportsAttach medical investigation reports such as blood tests, scans, and relevant documents supporting the critical illness diagnosis.
Prescriptions and BillsKeep original receipts for medicines, consultations, and bills related to critical illness medical expenses.
Photo ID and Address ProofProvide photocopies of identity proof (e.g., Aadhar card, passport, or driving licence) and address proof (e.g., utility bills or Aadhar card) for authentication.
Policy DocumentSubmit a copy of your Critical Illness Insurance policy for verification and review of provisions.
Hospital Registration (if applicable)Submit admission and discharge documents specifying dates and details of hospitalisation.
Test Reports for DiagnosisInclude test results confirming the critical disease for validation of the medical situation.
Claimant's Bank DetailsProvide bank account information, including the bank name, account number, and IFSC code, for claim payment.
Death Certificate (if applicable)If the critical illness results in demise, include the death certificate as part of the claim documentation.

Factors to Keep in Mind While Opting for a Critical Insurance Policy
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Here are some essential factors to keep in mind when opting for a critical insurance policy.

Strategies for Reducing Premiums on Critical Insurance Policies
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  1. Opt for a Higher Deductible: Choose a policy with a higher deductible amount - this is the threshold limit up to which you bear the expenses if you make a claim. Higher deductibles reduce the premium outgo.

  2. Evaluate Sum Insured: Carefully assess how much coverage you need rather than opting for a random high figure. Higher cover equals higher premiums. Buy adequate protection.

  3. Compare Quotes: Do not zero-in on the first policy you come across. Shop around and compare quotes online from multiple insurers to find the best premium rate. 

  4. Improve Health Status: Insurers offer discounts if you can showcase habits like regular medical check-ups, healthy diet, fitness levels, etc. Small lifestyle changes can mean lower premiums.  

  5. Opt for Longer Tenure: Multi-year premium payment terms like 3-year or 5-year premium commitments attract sizeable discounts compared to annual payments.

  6. Preventive Care: Enroll in preventive care programs offered by insurers to manage lifestyle diseases, addiction, etc. It makes you less risky to cover.

Follow these tips during your critical illness policy purchase to optimise premium payouts and get adequate coverage. Evaluate trade-offs between price and coverage carefully.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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The following are frequently asked questions regarding a Critical Illness Insurance.


How much critical illness benefit is required for an individual?

The required critical illness benefit varies based on factors like lifestyle, medical history, and financial needs. It's advisable to assess your situation with an insurance advisor to determine the right amount that ensures adequate coverage without overburdening you.

Is there an age criterion for buying Critical Illness Insurance?

Yes, Critical Illness Insurance is usually offered only to individuals between the ages of 5 years to 65 years. However, go through the policy document of the policy to find out the exact age criteria.

Can I get critical illness cover after cancer?

Yes, it's possible to obtain critical illness cover for cancer, but eligibility and terms may vary among insurers. Some providers may offer coverage post-treatment or a waiting period. Discuss your specific case with an insurance expert to explore available options tailored to your needs.

Can I purchase a critical illness benefit once I am diagnosed with an illness?

Unfortunately, getting coverage after a diagnosis is challenging. It's crucial to secure critical illness insurance beforehand, as it typically requires applicants to be in good health. Planning ahead ensures financial protection in case of unforeseen health challenges.

Do I need to undergo medical tests to enroll myself for critical illness cover?

Yes, many insurers require medical tests as part of the application process. These tests help determine your health status and set appropriate coverage terms. While it may seem daunting, they contribute to a fair assessment and ensure the right coverage for you.

Is there any tax exemption under the critical illness policy?

Yes, critical illness insurance premiums are eligible for tax exemptions. Be sure to check your tax regulations or consult a tax professional to understand the specific benefits available as per your tax regime.

What does Critical Illness mean in Insurance?

Critical illness insurance is a type of health insurance that provides a lump-sum payout if you're diagnosed with a severe medical condition listed in the policy. This financial support helps cover medical expenses, living costs, and other financial obligations during challenging times.

What is the sum insured of Critical Illness insurance cover?

The sum insured depends on various factors, including lifestyle, age, and medical history. It represents the maximum amount the insurer will pay for covered critical illnesses. Consult with an insurance advisor to determine a suitable sum insured based on your individual circumstances.

Can I take multiple claims under Critical Illness Cover for the same disease?

Generally, critical illness policies are designed to pay out once per illness. Taking multiple claims for the same disease may not be possible. It's essential to review the policy terms and conditions for clarity on claim eligibility.

Should I buy a Critical Illness Insurance Policy or a Critical Illness Insurance Rider?

A Critical Illness Insurance Policy is more expensive than a Critical Illness Insurance Rider. Nonetheless, it offers more coverage than a rider. A rider will offer a sum assured only equivalent to the value of the base policy. So, if the base policy is worth Rs. 2 lakh, the sum assured will also be only Rs. 2 lakh. That is why, unless you are on a tight budget, it is recommended to buy a standalone Critical Illness Insurance Policy.

What is the difference between waiting period and survival period in Critical Illness Insurance?

Waiting period refers to the 90 day period after buying a Critical Illness Insurance Policy. During this period you cannot raise any claims. Survival period, on the other hand, refers to the period after diagnosis that the insured has to survive before receiving the assured sum. The survival period usually spans between 30 to 90 days. You can refer to the policy document to find out the exact duration of both.

What are the disadvantages of critical illness insurance?

While critical illness insurance provides valuable protection, some considerations include cost, coverage limitations, and specific exclusions. It's essential to understand policy terms thoroughly and weigh the benefits against potential drawbacks before making a decision.