How is Terminal Illness different from Critical illness ?

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Most people use the terms terminal illness and critical illness interchangeably. But both the categories of diseases are different, hence the difference in name.  

Both the insurance covers provide an additional layer of safety net in a standard life insurance policy. However, the kind of protection they provide is not the same. 

In order to select the right plan, it is important for you to understand the basic differences between the terminal and critical illnesses.

What is Terminal Illness?

Terminal illness refers to a disease from which the patient does not recover. Most insurance companies offer life insurance plans that include terminal illness cover. With term insurance plans, the insurance companies provide the sum assured to the family of the deceased policyholder. 

In some cases, they also provide a certain amount of sum assured to the policyholder if they are likely to die in the next 12 months. This allows the policyholder to get better treatment and manage their lives in a much better way. And then, the insurer reduces the already provided amount from the death benefit amount. The term insurance plan terms and conditions may vary from insurer to insurer.

There is no specific list of diseases that can turn into terminal possibilities. People with terminal illnesses may have single or multiple medical issues at a time. Here’s a suggestive terminal illnesses list. 

  • Lung diseases
  • Diseases of motor neurons
  • Advanced heart disease
  • Advanced cancer
  • Dementia 
  • Other neurological disorders 

The terminal illness cover can only be claimed while the policyholder lives. If the policyholder passes away, only the sum assured will be provided to the family members based on the policy’s terms and conditions. 

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What is Critical Illness?

Critical illnesses are serious but curable diseases that can be reversed through intensive medical treatment. With a standard health insurance policy, the policyholder gets medical benefits to a certain extent. The policyholders can avail of this financial benefit only if-

  • they get hospitalized,
  • the claim is valid,
  • they do not exceed the sum assured limit

This is not the case with a critical illness insurance policy. In critical illness insurance cover, the policyholder gets a fixed one-time benefit from the insurer for critical illness treatment. Once the policyholder utilises the insurance cover, they get no other benefits from the insurance policy until they get it renewed.   

Some of the common critical illnesses include-

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Paralysis 
  • Cancer
  • Blindness
  • Disability
  • Diseases that require organ transplant

To register a claim for critical illness cover, the policyholder needs to have permanent symptoms of the disease. Unlike other insurance products, this one doesn’t have any cash value unless a valid claim is made.

Terminal Illness vs Critical Illness Insurance Covers

Here’s a list of differences between terminal illness and critical illness covers.


Terminal Illness Cover

Critical Illness Cover

Sum Assured

With a term insurance plan, the policyholder can claim 25% of the sum assured if they need money for treatment. The percentage of the sum assured may vary for different insurance companies.

With critical illness insurance, the policyholder can claim a lump sum amount as a one-time benefit when they need it the most.

Financial Benefits

The policyholders get financial benefit from their term insurance plan only if they have a terminal illness and are assumed to live for less than 12 months.

Critical illness insurance cover offers financial benefits only if the policyholder suffers from any critical illness and needs intensive treatment.

Claim Availability

With terminal illness cover, the policyholder can give a substantial financial benefit to their family after their death.

The benefits of critical illness cover can only be availed of when the policyholder is hospitalized and needs severe treatment.

Insurance Cover

Terminal illness insurance cover is included in the term insurance plan with no extra cost.

The policyholders need to pay an additional cost to add a critical illness cover to their life insurance policy.

Flexibility of Use

Terminal illness cover allows the policyholder to make an early claim if they are likely t predicted to pass away within a year.

Critical illness cover is a standalone insurance product and can only be used once the policyholder renews it.


Who Should Choose to Buy Terminal Illness Cover?

People suffering from a terminal illness or diseases like cancer, heart diseases, major organ failure, Alzheimer's disease, coronary artery bypass disease, brain tumours, deafness, stroke, blindness, severe burns, coma, etc., may opt for terminal illness cover. This helps them secure their family’s future by providing a considerable amount of sum assured to manage their finances.

Here are some benefits of buying term insurance plans.

  • Terminal illness cover allows policyholders to provide financial support.
  • The policyholders’ family members needn’t compromise on their studies or lifestyle for survival. 
  • The policyholders can avail 25 percent of the insurance cover to get better treatment or manage their personal finances.

Who Should Buy a Critical Illness Cover?

Critical illnesses like heart attack, cancer, stroke, organ transplant, blindness, disability, paralysis, etc., have been on a rise. People with a modern lifestyle who may develop any kind of critical illness with time may opt for a critical illness cover. The insurance cover helps you manage your medical expenses and the cost of treatment too. 

Here are some major benefits of opting for a critical illness cover.

  • The policyholder gets a one-time fixed benefit to meet all their medical expenses.
  • The critical illness cover can only be claimed if the policyholder is hospitalized and can be used to clear their debts or other finances.

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Now that you know the difference between terminal illness and critical illness, you will be able to determine which one do you need. Analyze your medical condition and discover your financial needs to make the right choice.

Get in touch with multiple insurance providers and compare the benefits offered by each one of them before choosing your term insurance plan. This helps you get the best deal with maximum benefits. Take your time in figuring out the insurance cover that is suitable for you based on your necessities.

Related Links - 

Critical Illness Insurance: Buy Best Critical Illness Cover Policy
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