It is important for each of us to have a comprehensive health cover. Given that health risks due to reasons other than Covid-19 continue, one needs to be ready to meet the cost of medical treatment. An indemnity cover for hospitalisation is a basic requirement where the benefit is to the extent of expenses on hospitalisation. But besides this, you also need a benefit cover, where the sum insured (SI) is paid immediately on diagnosis of the illness and it can be used to meet non-medical expenses and even the insured’s outstanding loans. Critical illness policies are benefit covers where SI is paid in full irrespective of the expenses at the hospital, and should be a part of your health insurance portfolio.

Liberty General Insurance recently launched a new critical illness policy called Critical Connect. Here’s, a look at the product and a comparison with similar plans.

What’s offered?

Liberty’s Critical Connect offers two plans: Under Plan A, illnesses are grouped under three sets with the first having nine illnesses, the second 25 illnesses and third having 43 illnesses. You can choose either of the three sets. Under Plan B, the cover is disease specific and benefits are bundled under products named – Heart Protect (includes cover for conditions defined as ‘minor’ by insurers which includes – angioplasty, pacemaker implantation, minimally invasive surgery of aorta, among others; Cancer Protect (includes cover for early stage cancers and carcinoma-in-situ); RenoLiv Protect, and Brain Protect.

Under Critical Connect you have the option to cover your spouse, children, parents/parents-in-law, siblings and a few other relations in a single (floater) policy. SI options available are ₹1 lakh to ₹1 crore. Premium can be paid in monthly/quarterly/half yearly instalments too. The policy is offered for one to three years and is renewable lifelong. If you take a policy for 2/3 years, you will get discount on premium.

For plan A, those under 40 years, will not be required to give a medical test. In case of plan B, those over 45 years of age and going for a Heart Protect cover are required to show results of lipid profile test; those over 55 years going for Cancer Protect cover will be required to give medical tests including PSA (male) and PAP smear (female). Similarly, for RenoLiv Protect and Brain Protect covers too, those in the higher age bracket and opting will be required to undergo medical tests.

There are two optional covers that come with Critical Connect. One is the Loan Protector, where EMI of the outstanding loan for 12 months or 3 per cent of SI, whichever is lower, is paid, after diagnosis of a listed critical illness. The other cover is – waiver of the 30-day survival period. Both of these options come for an additional premium.

Our take

There is a unique advantage in going for critical illness policies of general insurers, and that is ‘life-long’ renewability of the policy. Critical illness policies of life insurers provide cover only till 70-75 years of age as regulations of the land don’t permit them to issue a lifelong renewable cover.

Thus, all of you who desire to have a lifelong renewable cover, can look at Liberty’s Critical Connect. If you are looking for a comprehensive critical illness cover you can choose the third set under Plan A of the product which covers 43 critical illnesses including cancer, heart, kidney and liver ailments and also loss of speech, deafness, severe rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease and is a reasonably comprehensive policy (Future Generali Life covers 59 illnesses under its critical illness policy). The advantage with Liberty’s Critical Connect is also that it offers options to pay premium in instalments and covers cost of second opinion in medical treatment. The option to take SI up to ₹1 crore, is a highlight too, as most general insurers keep it to ₹5/10/15 lakhs or maximum ₹50 lakhs. Further, note that while usually after the first claim, a critical illness policy, terminates, it is not so the case with Critical Connect. It lets you renew the policy after claiming for a critical illness and use the policy for protection against two more (unrelated) critical illnesses (in a gap of 24 months). Though there may be low probabilities of an individual suffering from say both cancer and a heart ailment, Critical Connect provides added safety.

That said, you may want to consider – Aditya Birla Health’s Activ Secure Critical Illness plan, too. It covers 64 critical illnesses that includes procedures like angioplasty and pacemaker insertion. In Liberty’s Critical Connect, note that if you had bought Plan A and had chosen to take cover for 43 illnesses, you will still not be covered for angioplasty. Angioplasty is considered a minor condition under the plan and for protection against it and other minor conditions with respect to heart and early stage Cancer you need to have purchased disease specific covers under Plan B. Also, the survival period in Aditya Birla Health’s Activ Secure Critical Illness plan is only 15 days against 30 days in Liberty’s Critical Connect.

The premium on Liberty’s Critical Connect for a male of 40 years for SI ₹10 lakh for covering 43 illnesses is ₹5,564 per annum. The premium on Aditya Birla Health’s plan is ₹7,268 per annum.

Women wanting to buy critical illness policy can consider HDFC ERGO’s my: health Women Suraksha, as it has a comprehensive coverage of illnesses specific to women.