When should I buy critical illness insurance?


Critical illness insurance gets more expensive as you age, so it’s best to get coverage as soon as you can afford it. Critical illness insurance protects you financially in the event that you fall ill with a serious or life-threatening illness by providing you a lump-sum payment. It allows you to spend money on medical or non-medical expenses that come up in your recovery.


When you are diagnosed with a sudden, critical illness, your first concern should be your health and getting better, of course… but what about money? If you can’t work, how will you pay your bills?

Between taking time off work and losing income, travel costs to get special medical treatments, and the possibility of expensive home care, you could bleed your savings dry.

Find out when to buy critical illness insurance to cover these bills, so you can recover free from financial stress!

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When should I buy critical illness insurance?

If you don’t have it already, NOW is the cheapest time and the right time for you to purchase. You should buy critical illness insurance as soon as you can fit the monthly premiums into your budget.

Like life insurance, there are advantages to getting critical illness insurance earlier in life. Critical illness insurance will get more expensive as you age as you are at a higher risk of sudden illness such as heart attack, stroke, or cancer as you get older. The younger and healthier the lifestyle you have, the cheaper this coverage can be.

Critical illness insurance is an agreement with an insurance company where they pay you a tax-free amount of money if you are diagnosed with a life-threatening condition or illness.
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How long does critical illness insurance coverage last?

Critical illness insurance comes in terms, similar to term life insurance, or it can cover you up to the age of 75. When you purchase a policy, you lock in your rate for the rest of your term, no matter your age or lifestyle changes.

1 Term Critical Illness Insurance

Critical illness insurance coverage commonly comes in 10, 20, or 30 year terms.

2 Permanent Critical Illness Insurance

You can also purchase permanent critical illness insurance that covers you to age 65 or 75 depending on the company.

How much critical illness insurance cover do I need?

Many Canadians purchase $50,000 – $100,000 in critical illness coverage. The maximum amount of coverage available with most Canadian critical illness insurance companies is $3 million.

To determine how much insurance you may need, take a look at your current expenses—your mortgage payments, car payments, potential out-of-pocket medical expenses, travel costs, etc. If you can afford to cover that in the short term, then critical illness insurance may not be worth it for you. However, most Canadians have not saved enough to cover these costs without steady employment—and most critical illnesses will force you to stop work.

Find out how much critical illness insurance you need using our calculator.
Critical illness statistics

Why critical illness insurance is important

Critical illnesses are incredibly common. In fact, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, “Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians (45% of men and 43% of women) is expected to develop cancer during their lifetime.” We’re not telling you this to freak you out—but you should be aware that critical illness may have an impact on your physical and financial health.

Critical Illness insurance can be your lifeline during these difficult times while the paperwork for your other insurance is being processed. With critical illness insurance, you know how much you’ll get paid out and the process is a lot faster. You can file critical illness insurance right away, with a diagnosis report from your doctor.

Here are a few situations where critical illness insurance can play a crucial role in saving your financial life:

  • Your spouse needs to take time off work and does not have allowances for paid extended leaves of absences; the critical illness insurance can be used to replace all or part of their income (depending on how much coverage you purchase)
  • You are self-employed and do not qualify for disability insurance, critical illness insurance can be used to replace your income.
  • Your medical expenses are not covered by your extended medical or universal health care. This might include adapting your home for any new physical disability you may have or physio appointments.
Still looking for the best critical illness insurance rates?
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Critical Illness insurance is especially important if you do not have any other type of medical or disability insurance in place. It covers specific sudden critical illnesses that can include:

  • Heart attack
  • Cancer
  • Kidney failure
  • Alzheimer’s/Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Other very common conditions

Read the full list of what critical illness insurance policies cover.

common critical illnesses in Canada

What age should you get critical illness insurance coverage?

You should get critical illness insurance coverage at the youngest age possible. That way, you’ll lock in the lowest possible prices for critical illness insurance. Many Canadians wait until they are in their 30s or 40s to purchase coverage, but we recommend to protect yourself as soon as you can afford the monthly premiums.

It is true that when you’re younger you are less likely to be diagnosed with a critical illness, and you may have less financial responsibility than later in life as you earn more in your career and take on more financial risk.

But ask yourself:

  • Even if you have disability insurance or other insurance to replace your income, can you wait that 1-3 months before that insurance kicks in?
  • Have you saved enough to pay for any specialized or out-of-country treatment?
  • Can you pay to retrofit your home if your needs change?
  • If you got diagnosed with a terminal illness and wanted to use your time to take a trip or spend as much time with family as possible, could you afford it?

If you said no, or are unsure, then critical illness insurance may be great protection for you, so you can stop worrying about your bank account balance and focus on your health.

When can you buy critical illness insurance for your child?

A child’s critical illness insurance coverage can be purchased after the child is born and up to the age of 25 years for the child. Some companies may cover additional diseases before the child turns 17 years in age. While an application for the coverage can be issued as early as 1 day after the child is born, most companies will require that the contract be issued at least after the child has turned 1 month in age.

Do you have gaps in your insurance coverage? Do our online check-up!

When can I get a quote for critical illness insurance?

You can get a quote for critical illness insurance coverage instantly! PolicyAdvisor works with over 20 of Canada’s top insurance providers to make sure you get coverage that is best for YOU.

Not all policies are created with the same definitions of illnesses and coverage. If you have questions about critical illness insurance or critical illness riders and want to see if it’s worth it for you, speak to one of our advisors today!

Need help?
Call us at 1-888-601-9980 or book time with our licensed experts.

  • Critical illness protects you financially from the extra expenses you may not think about or expect when diagnosed with a critical illness
  • When you consider how common critical illnesses are in Canada, the extra coverage can be extremely helpful
  • The earlier you purchase critical illness insurance, the less expensive the premiums will be

By Carly Griffin
Senior Insurance Advisor, LLQP
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