Insights & advice
How does critical illness insurance work?
No matter how hard we try, we can’t predict what’s waiting around the corner. Life’s unpredictability makes critical illness insurance an excellent option for people looking to help protect their family’s finances.
Critical illness insurance can provide valuable support should you or a family member experience a serious illness, such as cancer, heart attack or stroke. You should consider the following reasons to contact an advisor about critical illness insurance today.
1. Critical illnesses happen more than you think
For many Canadians – and especially those who are young, healthy or both – the idea of experiencing a critical illness like cancer, heart attack or stroke can seem unlikely.
But nearly 3 in every 4 Canadians know someone who has experienced a serious illness.Footnote 1 The Canadian Cancer Society reports that 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer at some point. Footnote 2 There’s also about 70,000 heart attacks and 50,000 strokes in Canada each year. Footnote 3
2. It can seriously impact you and your family
Thanks to recent medical advancements, more people are expected to survive cancer and other critical illnesses.Footnote 4 That’s great, but what will your finances look like if a critical illness stops you from working ? How would a critical illness impact those closest to you? Would they have to give up some of the things they love?
Critical illness insurance can help you and your loved ones prepare for what’s ahead and could help you keep your current lifestyle during your recovery.
3. You may not be covered
Canadians may not know about critical illness insurance. Those who do may think they’re covered through a work group benefits plan or their province’s healthcare plan. But not all plans are the same – while some offer critical illness insurance or disability insurance, yours may not. Even if you are covered, you may lose that coverage if you leave your job.
It’s true the Canadian government may cover some of your medical expenses, but not all of them. This could be a problem if you need to undergo expensive treatment or if you’re prescribed a costly medication. The government also won’t pay for many of the extra costs that come with fighting a critical illness, like hospital parking, gas and meals. Over time, these expenses add up.
To make sure that your family is prepared for a life-altering illness now and in the future, check your group benefits plan to see if it includes critical illness coverage. Even if you are covered, it may be worth talking to an advisor about getting your own critical illness insurance coverage.
4. Focus on your health rather than your finances
With critical illness insurance, you don’t have the added stress of having to choose what’s best for your family versus what’s best for your health.
If you experience a critical illness, you can receive a lump sum payment that you can use however you need to help with your recovery. You can hire a caregiver to help around the house, you can take time off work to recover on your own terms or you can pay for medical expenses not covered by your employer or provincial healthcare plans.
5. Waiting can be costly
It’s easy to dismiss the thought of a life-altering illness while you’re young, healthy or both. But keep the following in mind:
If you wait, you may have difficulty qualifying and the cost will likely increase.
Your ability to qualify for critical illness insurance is affected by changes to your health. – It could also be affected by changes in the health of your parents and siblings.
The cost of critical illness insurance depends on your age and the likelihood you’ll be diagnosed with such an illness; as such, prices typically increase as you get older.
People may not consider buying critical illness insurance until a family member experiences a serious illness. Such an event could make getting coverage more difficult.
- Footnote 1
- 1 “Critical illness insurance thought leadership research: A summary of findings, Sept. 14, 2015,” report commissioned by Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life™ and conducted by Head Research.
- Footnote 2
- 2 Canadian Cancer Society, “Cancer Statistics at a GlanceOpens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window,”
- Footnote 3
- 3 Together, these two issues account for roughly 350,000 hospitalizations each year. “2014 Report on the Health of CanadiansOpens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window,” Heart & Stroke Foundation.
- Footnote 4
- 4 Arti Patel, “Cancer Statistics in Canada: Rates, Deaths Fall but Skin Cancer on the Rise, Report FindsOpens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window,” The Huffington Post Canada, May 28, 2014.