The Life Insurance Association (LIA) Singapore has announced changes to definitions of critical illnesses (CIs), citing the need for "clarity and continued relevance."
For instance, "Deafness (Loss of Hearing)" has been amended to "Deafness (Irreversible Loss of Hearing)", with the term "irreversible" defined to recognise the possibility of future medical treatments that can restore hearing to some level as medical advances are made.
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.
This round of review addresses ambiguities that have arisen due to medical advancements and health trends in the past five years"
LIA Singapore said claims assessment and benefits will follow the definitions, and the terms and conditions stated in their existing policy contracts. However, it added that policyholders with existing critical illness policies are not impacted by the new definitions.
It added that all critical illness products based on definitions used from 2014, when the last update was done, may no longer be sold in Singapore from Aug 26 next year.
"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 critical illnesses definitions will ensure that critical illnesses products stay relevant with changing times, and that the intended scope of coverage is clear to consumers," he added.
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.
Singapore has nearly 548,000 people aged 65 or above, and that number will more than triple by 2030. The incidence of chronic diseases among both the young and old is also increasing.
All member companies of LIA Singapore and the General Insurance Association of Singapore will adopt the set of revised definitions.