7 Worrying Critical Illness Statistics in Singapore (2024)

Are you looking for statistics on critical illness in Singapore?

Or perhaps, you’re curious to know what the probabilities of contracting one.

Well, look no further.

On this page, we’ve compiled the most important facts and statistics on critical illness in Singapore. And it’ll be updated regularly.

Hopefully, with this, you’ll gain further insights into this important topic.

So, read on!

A Primer on Critical Illness

The term “critical illness” or “CI” has different meanings depending on what you’re searching for.

In this article, we’re not looking at other illnesses or chronic diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, but the focus is on the 37 critical illnesses defined by the Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA).

The definitions of these critical illnesses are standardised across the industry to provide greater assurance. Do take note that these CIs are towards the later stages of an illness.

Here’s the list of critical illnesses:

list of 37 critical illnesses in singapore

The definitions of these critical illnesses may change from time to time. The most recent change was in August 2020. And the purpose was to provide greater clarity to consumers.

With that out of the way, let’s look at some statistics on critical illness.


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1) Illnesses Are the Reason for a Huge Percentage of Deaths

Putting LIA’s CI definitions aside, it’ll be great to know how illnesses and diseases of different shapes and sizes lead to death.

The Ministry of Health has put together some statistics on the principal causes of death in Singapore.

causes of death in singapore 2023
CausePercentage of Deaths
Ischaemic heart diseases20.1%
Cerebrovascular diseases (including stroke)6.1%
Hypertensive diseases3.4%
External causes of morbidity and mortality3.3%
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis2.7%
Other heart diseases2.3%
Urinary tract infection2.2%
Diabetes Mellitus1.1%

As you can see, cancer is the leading cause of death in Singapore, accounting for 26.4% of all deaths. Together with ischaemic heart diseases and pneumonia, they account for 64.9% of all deaths.

External causes of morbidity and mortality (e.g., deaths caused by road accidents) only represent 3.3% of all deaths.

And when we look at the causes of death claims (life insurance), cancer is also at the top, accounting for 39.67% of all claims.

causes of all death claims

As the most common critical illness in Singapore, cancer will always be a hot topic.

It’s something you’ll have to pay extra attention to.

2) 1 in Every 4 to 5 Singaporeans May Get A Critical Illness (Any Stage)

What’s the probability of getting a critical illness in Singapore?

Because it’s difficult to come up with one number to sum up all the probabilities of different critical illnesses, let’s just zoom into cancer for now.

Looking at the statistics on cancer, about 38 Singaporeans are diagnosed with it each day. And every day, 15 Singaporeans die from it.

That being said, regardless of stage, the lifetime risk of developing cancer is 1 for every 4 to 5 Singaporeans.

1 in every 4 to 5 singaporeans get cancer

To break it down further, men have a higher chance of developing cancer than women (the lifetime risk for men is 1 in 4 compared to 1 in 5 for women).

Take note: cancer is just one out of the many illnesses out there. If you factor others in, the chances of getting a dread illness will be higher.

3) The Cost of Treating a Critical Illness Can Amount to $100,000 to $200,000 per Year

Contracting a critical illness is not the end of your worries.

The next biggest worry is whether you’re able to pay for the treatments.

With high medical inflation, the cost of medical treatments is going to be expensive over time.

And these treatments may last for a prolonged period.

Zooming into cancer again, there are various ways to treat it. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy are the most common ones.

Even so, there’s no true cure for cancer as it can still come back. And so, there’s a constant need for diagnostic tests every year.

For late-stage cancer, the costs of treatment can be $100,000 to $200,000 per year.

average cost of cancer treatment singapore

But there’s also another type of cost, the cost of not being able to work.

Your income is used for many other uses such as daily expenses, future commitments and financial goals.

If you’re unable to work because of an illness, who’s going to pay these expenses? Can your family cope while taking care of you and making up for your loss of income?

So, that’s why it’s crucial to replace your income if a CI happens.


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4) Critical Illness Claims Account for 49.68% of All Life Insurance Claims

In life insurance, there are 3 main types of coverage: death, total and permanent disability (TPD), and critical illness.

In an analysis we did, critical illness accounted for 49.68% of life insurance claims. 47.51% were death claims and only 2.81% were TPD claims.

life insurance claims percentage

CI claims exceeded death claims by a small margin.

However, if you factor in the causes of these death claims (a majority are caused by critical illnesses too), you’ll realise that CI plays a huge role in both CI and death claims.

causes of all death claims

5) More than 90% of Critical Illness Claims Come From Only 5 Conditions

While there are 37 critical illnesses in the LIA framework, are they all important?

Turns out that only a few matter.

These are the 5 CIs that make up most of the CI claims (more than 90%):

  1. Major Cancers
  2. Heart Attack of Specified Severity
  3. Coronary Artery By-Pass Surgery
  4. Stroke with Permanent Neurological Deficit
  5. End Stage Kidney Failure
more than 90% of ci claims come from only 5 conditions

But it’s even more disproportionate than that.

From the analysis we did on 36 months of life insurance claims, we made a few interesting findings.

Firstly, the 5 conditions above indeed represented more than 90% of all CI claims, 93.45% to be precise.

Secondly, of all the CI claims, cancer accounted for a huge majority, standing at 73.17%. This supports the fact that cancer is the top critical illness in Singapore.

causes of all critical illness claims

And this is also the reason why cancer-related benefits from early critical illness plans are important as the likelihood of it happening is higher.

Therefore, although it’s good to have a policy that covers 100+ conditions, only a few truly matter.

6) Most CI Claims Happen From Ages 51 to 55

It is given that death claims usually happen at a later age.

How about critical illness claims then?

ages when ci claims happen

From our analysis, most critical illness claims happen from age 51 to 55. And the bulk of claims happen from age 41 to 65.

So although this could indicate a period when CI coverage comes in handy, you must take note that the data only includes in-forced policies.

7) The Average Critical Illness Claim Is $52,343.37

We now know that the chances of contracting a CI are high.

And the costs to treat it are correspondingly high too.

While hospitalisation plans (when it’s upgraded) pay out a substantial amount to cover the medical bills, the cost of not being able to work remains.

That’s when critical illness coverage comes in.

It can come in the form of a rider that you can attach to term insurance or whole life insurance. And there are also standalone early critical illness plans that primarily cover CI of all stages.

These insurance plans pay out a lump sum when a CI happens. This money can then be used to “replace” your income during recovery and/or the period when you’re not able to work, thus enabling you to continue paying for family expenses and financial commitments.

Unfortunately, many Singaporeans are underinsured.

From the study we did, we found out that the average CI claim payout is only $52,343.37.

average critical illness claim

And even for those that have more than $100,000 CI coverage, a majority of claims are in the $100,000 to $199,999 region.

claims payouts of ci claims

This leads to the question, “Do you think that this amount is enough for you?”

Wrapping Up

Knowing the importance of critical illnesses is one thing.

What are you going to do about it? Do you think you’re sufficiently covered right now?

If you have some time, estimate how much critical illness coverage you need with our calculator.

And if you wish to know more, check out the different insurance plans that can cover critical illness: term life insurance, whole life insurance, and early critical illness insurance.

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Disclaimer: The statements or opinions expressed on this site are of my own. The information is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice.
Abram Lim

Abram Lim is the founder of SmartWealth and a licensed financial consultant with over 8 years in the industry. He ensures all published content is supported by data, well-researched, and includes both sides of the story. His work has been referenced by SingSaver, Business Insider, and Fortune.