Complete guide to critical illness cover in South Africa

Critical Illness Cover in South Africa Summary A critical illness cover is an insurance product that covers the insured against […]

critical illness cover

Critical Illness Cover in South Africa Summary

A critical illness cover is an insurance product that covers the insured against dread diseases such as cancer, stroke, coronavirus or other serious illnesses. Critical illness cover became popular in South Africa in the fall of the 1990s, with insurance companies offering better critical illness covers.

Today the critical illness cover is one of the most popular insurance product. Critical illness cover pays out a lump sum should a policyholder become critically ill.

The critical illness cover is important because of the benefits that one gets when they become critically ill. Critical illnesses affect many South Africans and many people die from these illnesses.

Failure to afford treatment was the biggest cause of death until the advent critical illness cover as an insurance product. People no longer have to worry about hospital costs, treatment costs, consultation fee, etc.

Advantages and disadvantages of a critical illness cover

critical illness

A critical illness cover comes with a number of advantages and disadvantages. This will; however, depend on your policy provider. We will; therefore, only discuss some of the most common advantages and disadvantages of a critical illness cover.

Advantages of a critical illness cover

Lump-sum Payment: With a good cover, you should be able to get a lump-sum payment should you become permanently ill.

Not everyone can afford to take care of themselves when they face a critical illness. To combat this, the payout can be used to hire a nurse, build supporting structures in a house, and more.

Can spend your payout as you like: you can spend your critical illness cover payout as you wish. There are no restrictions on how to spend your critical illness payout. Should you want to take a holiday or refurbish your home you can do so.

Has high claim payout: the payout of the critical illness cover is high. For example, claims for the year 2019 had a payout turnaround of over 90% of all claims. Note that the payout period differs per insurer. You will need to know how long it will take for you to receive your payout after lodging a claim.

May cover children for free: a number of insurers allow policyholders to cover their children at no additional cost. Usually, children covered for free are those that are below the age of 21.

Disadvantages of a critical illness cover

A critical illness cover has its own disadvantages. As you are getting an assurance from an assurance provider, things can still not be as good or work entirely to your favour. Below is a glimpse of the disadvantages that come with a critical illness cover.

Policy not covering every illness: different insurers cover different illnesses and some insurers cover more illnesses than others. When getting a critical illness cover, don’t expect that every critical illness is covered by the policy.

You will need to familiarise yourself with illnesses that your critical illness cover policy covers. Otherwise, you might end up in deep financial stresses.

Variations in cover amount and premium: it may happen that 2 individuals who are of the same age and work in the same occupation get different premiums quotes. This is because of the liability that one might have such as family having a history of cancer.

Limited claims: most insurers usually pay out one claim. This is something that you need to consider when taking out a critical illness cover. If you having troubles then speak to an advisor about claims on a critical illness cover.

Can be expensive: critical illness cover can be expensive and that is not to say that all insurers charge ridiculous amounts. To turn tables around and make this disadvantage work for you, you can get quotes from different insurers.

Insurers like Discovery offer discounts on critical illness if a customer banks with them, or have an insurance product with them.

Why you need a critical illness cover

Critical illness cover is primarily sold with the intention of providing financial protection to individuals following diagnosis or treatment of an illness. Its importance lies in the fact that individuals need financial backup during illnesses.

By getting financial protection you will be able to live your life without worries. When it’s time to claim, you will be able to go on with your life without having any financial burdens.

You can take a cover that is proportional to your financial needs. Insurers even allow for an increase or decrease of a critical illness cover so you will have a cover that you need at all times.

You will be able to settle your home loan, pay children school fees, pay medical bills, cover living expenses, etc. A critical insurance cover works well mostly if not always.

Conditions covered by critical illness cover

A critical illness cover can cover a number of conditions depending on what your insurer covers. List of conditions on a critical illness cover has been increasing throughout the years.

In South Africa, the usual covers were mainly those associated with cancer, stroke and heart attack. The list has now increased to cover a number of illnesses with some insurers covering over 50 illnesses.

Here are some of the critical illnesses that you might get cover for:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Aplastic anaemia
  • Cancer
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness
  • Coronary Artery bypass
  • Loss of speech
  • Coma
  • Accidental HIV
  • Aortic surgery
  • Loss of limbs
  • Loss of hearing
  • Chronic liver failure
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Cerebral aneurysm
  • Benign brain tumour resulting in impairment
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Infective meningitis
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Dementia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Paralysis


Suffering from a dread disease is a serious life-threatening condition. To safeguard your life, you need to take a critical illness cover to make sure that you get sufficient financial and medical help you will need during these hard times.

Getting a critical illness cover is a sign of responsibility. Having a life-threatening illness is no joke. Insuring for such unforeseen events is the best way to live your life worry-free.

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