Singapore: LIA announces changes to Critical Illnesses definitions and names

| 29 Aug 2019

The Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA Singapore) has announced changes to the Critical Illnesses (CI) definitions and names (i.e. headers to the definitions), which have been revised for clarity and continued relevance.

Standard definitions of 21 severe stage CIs and names of 14 CIs have been refined to clearly reflect the intent of coverage. The LIA CI Framework includes standardised definitions of 37 severe stage CIs in total.

Effective from 26 August 2020, all CI products based on definitions of 2014 may no longer be sold in Singapore.

Policyholders with existing CI policies are not impacted by the new CI definitions. Claims assessment and benefits will follow the definitions, and the terms and conditions stated in their existing policy contracts.

Mr Khor Hock Seng, President of LIA Singapore, said, "This round of review addresses ambiguities that have arisen due to medical advancements and health trends in the past five years. 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."

Some examples of these changes include:

• For “Heart Attack of Specified Severity”, the preceding reference to “Death of heart muscle due to obstruction of blood flow” revised to “Death of heart muscle due to ischaemia”, to make it clear that both Type 1 Myocardial Infarction and Type 2 Myocardial Infarction are covered.

• “Deafness (Loss of Hearing)” amended to “Deafness (Irreversible Loss of Hearing)” and the term “irreversible” defined, to recognise the possibility of future medical treatments that can restore hearing to some level as medical advances are made. Before this amendment, the definition does not cover reversible hearing loss.

All member companies of the Life Insurance Association (LIA) Singapore and the General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) will adopt the set of revised definitions.

Please refer to the LIA Singapore website at for more details on the CI benefit framework and the standard definitions for the severe stage of 37 Critical Illnesses.

Download the latest definitions here.


The rationale for LIA Singapore’s standardisation of CI definitions remains unchanged:

• Standardisation provides greater transparency for customers to easily assess and compare the different plans available.

• Policyholders have greater assurance in claims results with a reduced incidence of one insurer paying a claim and another rejecting it due to differences in definition applied for severe stage of the 37 common CIs.

The last update was made in 2014, where some of the 37 severe stage CIs definitions were revised; and the maximum limit of 30 medical conditions per CI plan was abolished to allow for more medical conditions to be covered.

Standard CI insurance plans are designed to provide financial support when the insured person develops a severe or debilitating condition that requires a major surgery, or results in severe disability over an extended period. The latest round of changes remain consistent with this principle.

Standardisation of CI definitions was first introduced by LIA Singapore in 2003, and the industry remains committed to reviewing LIA’s common definitions once every three years.

Research findings have shown that over 90 per cent of all severe stage claims received by life insurers are for five CIs, namely:

• Major Cancer

• Heart Attack of Specified Severity

• Stroke with Permanent Neurological Deficit

• Coronary Artery By-pass Surgery

• End Stage Kidney Failure



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