what a cancer insurance plan covers you against

Cancer has become one of the most pressing health issues in the world. It is an umbrella name given to a group of closely related diseases that lead to abnormal cell growth. More than 100 types of cancer affect humans. India is witnessing an alarming growth in the incidence of cancer. The cancer burden in the country has doubled in the last 26 years, and it is projected to double in the next 20 years. India had 14 lakh cancer patients in 2016 and the number is likely to rise, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Many cancers can be prevented by lifestyle, dietary changes and vaccinations against certain infections. Even after all the precautions, cancer cannot be predicted. The debilitating impact of cancer on health is well-known and widely documented, but the financial impact often goes unnoticed. Once detected, the treatment of cancer can be expensive, which makes health insurance important. But is a regular health insurance policy sufficient to protect against cancer? Health insurance is important, but it has its limitations. Cancer-Specific insurance would be a better option.

How cancer insurance functions

Even though cancer insurance is specialised health insurance, it functions in an entirely different way. Cancer insurance is a fixed benefit health insurance plan. In a fixed-benefit plan, the actual expense of treatment or hospitalisation does not have a bearing on the payout. When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, a predefined amount is paid. The stage of cancer and the type of treatment decides the final payout. For instance, in early-stage cancer, cancer insurance plans pay only a part of the sum assured. Cancer-specific insurance can act as a supplement to your regular health insurance policy as treatment of advanced-stage cancer is also covered by critical illness insurance.

What is covered by cancer insurance?

There are many types of cancers and a similar number of treatments. Cancer-Specific insurance should ideally cover the treatment of cancer in every stage as well as most kinds of cancer. Typical cancer insurance protects against all types of cancers, except skin cancer. Some insurers also exclude first-stage prostate cancer but provide cover for advanced-stage prostate cancer.

Cover for minor stage cancer: The biggest advantage of having cancer insurance is that it covers various stages of cancer. It includes cover for treatment in carcinoma in situ stages, which is also known as ‘Stage 0’ cancer. On the other hand, a critical illness plan doesn’t provide cover for early-stage cancer treatment.

Cover for major-stage cancer: The treatment for cancer in an advanced stage can be very expensive. It requires multiple therapy sessions, extended hospitalisation and various medical tests. Hospitalisation is also covered under health insurance, but many policies exclude related treatments. Cancer insurance pays a lump-sum amount to the policyholder once a major-stage cancer is diagnosed.

Premium waiver: Once you are diagnosed with minor-stage cancer, most insurers waive the insurance premium for a specified time. Even if you have paid a single premium and have an active policy, the subsequent premiums are waived off in case of cancer.

Income support: Cancer often disrupts the work-life of its victims. It can force people to stay at home for extended periods, which can lead to loss of livelihood. Some cancer insurance policies pay the insured for loss of income. Future Generali Cancer Protect Plan provides an income of 2 percent of the coverage amount per month for 60 months on the diagnosis of major-stage cancer.


A cancer insurance policy addresses the complexities of the disease. Most cancer insurance policies pay a part of the sum assured when a person is diagnosed with minor stage cancer. Sometimes, cancer patients face remission of cancer after being cured. In case of a repeat, the policy pays the balance of the cover. Cancer can also spread from one organ to another. Cancer-specific policies pay for minor-stage cancer of different organs.

In case, minor-stage cancer develops into major-stage cancer, the insurer pays only the balance of the sum assured. For instance, a policyholder receives 25 percent of the sum assured when he/she is diagnosed with early-stage cancer. If cancer develops into major-stage cancer, the policy will pay only 75 percent of the sum assured.