Everything you need to know about single-pay vs multi-pay critical illness plans

Imagine going for your regular morning jog. You are running at your normal pace. And all of a sudden you end up feeling weak, with a sharp shooting pain in your chest and you just fall down on the floor. The next thing you know is that you have found yourself at a hospital with a hefty bill. And if you aren’t financially preparing for this, then along with being physically ill, you will also have to struggle with your financial expenses. The whole event can have a domino effect and ruin your course of life entirely. But hey, this can avoid with a little bit of financial planning in advance.

Critical illness plans are crucial investments that many Singaporeans make. These health investment plans help people during times of major illnesses like cancer, heart attack, and stroke. Critical illnesses are usually unexpected and possess the power of financially draining an individual. Single-pay and multi-pay critical illness plans help people by providing cash at such times. But some people get stuck wondering which type of critical illness plan will work well for them.

Here are a few things you should know about multi-pay critical illness plan and single-pay critical illness plan.

Total number of payouts

So, what are critical illness plans? They are plans that pay a lump sum of money when you are affected by a critical illness. The payout is supposed to help you cope during the recovery period when you cannot work. Apart from the basic and early critical illness plans, insurance companies recently introduced multi-pay critical illness plans. They are different from the single-pay critical illness plans in a variety of ways. To begin with, the number of times you get payouts varies.

Typically, the usual critical illness plans provide coverage for 37 illnesses and they give a single payout when you contract any of the illnesses the policy covers, in a relatively late stage. For example, you’re only eligible for the payout when you contract stage III or stage IV lung cancer. It also means that if you’ve diagnosed at stage I, you do not get any payouts.

An early critical illness plan

On the other hand, early critical illness plans provide the payout if you are diagnosed with diseases in the earlier stages itself. A post by Dollar and Sense explains this very aptly in the following example,

A stage I and stage II cancer qualifies you for a payout. If you wanted protection for all stages, you would have to purchase both plans. The disadvantage is that once you get your payout, the plan terminates and that’s the end. On top of that, it will be very hard to purchase (almost impossible) a new critical illness plan since you have pre-existing conditions. This is disadvantageous because some diseases do recur during the course of one’s life, e.g. cancer.

In response to the demand for total coverage for critical illnesses and the possibility of recurring critical illnesses in a different stage, insurance companies are providing a multi-pay plan: a plan that covers the functions of both regular and early critical illness plans. Under multi-pay plans, in general, you can get payouts when you contract critical illnesses, without a plan termination.

Terms and conditions regarding claims

Although these plans seem simple at the surface, just like any other financial product they too come with a set of terms and conditions. For single-pay critical illness plan, you get to pay once in a lump sum, and that’s it. For a multi-pay critical illness plan, however, you get to pay several times over the course of your life. The former is simple, as it involves only getting sick with one of the 37 critical illnesses once. However, for you to enjoy the multiple payments under the multi-pay plan, you’d have to go through the terms and conditions in more detail.


Multi-pay critical illness plans are known to be slightly more expensive than the combination of both standalone critical illness and early critical illness plans. The main reason, we speculate, is due to the fact that multi-pay critical illness plans have multiple payouts.

For the more price-conscious investors out there, there are alternatives to consider. Instead of forking out more on standalone critical illness plans, be it single pay or multi-pay, you can consider taking on critical illness riders on your existing plans as well.

Ideally, you should opt for a combination of both single-pay and multi-pay critical illness plans to ensure you are fully covered. In times of difficulty, it’s always best to prepare in advance. Being caught high and dry will only leave you feeling hopeless and enraged. As individuals, we come into this world alone and go alone as well. So, you might as well take good care of yourself in every possible way till you are here. Getting a good critical illness plan or any other health investment plan is certainly a step towards your own well-being and you should do whatever it takes to ensure the same.

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