Singapore life insurers refine critical illness definitions

Industry association cites need for “clarity and continued relevance” in updated terms

Singapore life insurers refine critical illness definitions

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

The Life Insurance Association (LIA) Singapore has announced changes to definitions of critical illnesses (CIs), citing the need for “clarity and continued relevance.”

In a statement, the association said that it has revised the standard definitions of 21 severe stage CIs and the names of 14 CIs to clearly reflect the intent of coverage. The LIA CI Framework includes standardised definitions for a total of 37 severe stage CIs, and was last updated in 2014.

Some examples of the changes include:

  • For “Heart Attack of Specified Severity”, the preceding reference to “Death of heart muscle due to obstruction of blood flow” was revised to “Death of heart muscle due to ischaemia”. According to LIA, this is to make it clear that both Type 1 Myocardial Infarction and Type 2 Myocardial Infarction are covered.
  • “Deafness (Loss of Hearing)” was amended to “Deafness (Irreversible Loss of Hearing)” and the term “irreversible” was redefined, to recognise the possibility of future medical treatments that can restore hearing to some level as medical advances are made. Prior to this change, the definition did not cover reversible hearing loss.

A 2012-2015 survey by Gen Re found that over 90% of severe stage claims were for the following five CIs: major cancer, heart attack of specified severity, stroke with permanent neurological deficit, coronary artery bypass surgery, and end stage kidney failure.

All member companies of the LIA and the General Insurance Association (GIA) of Singapore will adopt the revised definitions. By August 26, 2020, all products sold must have adopted the new definitions, the statement said.

Meanwhile, policyholders with existing CI policies will not be affected by the new CI definitions. Claims assessment and benefits will follow the definitions, and the terms and conditions stated in their existing policy contracts.

“This round of review addresses ambiguities that have arisen due to medical advancements and health trends in the past five years,” said Khor Hock Seng, president of LIA Singapore. “Especially with the rapidly ageing population and rising incidences of chronic illnesses here, regular reviews of the CI definitions will ensure that CI products stay relevant with changing times, and that the intended scope of coverage is clear to consumers.”

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