Disability News


What’s the Difference Between Critical Illness and Long-Term Disability Insurance?

Expect the Unexpected in Life

There’s no doubt that health uncertainties can swiftly disrupt our financial stability. This underscores the importance of insurance coverage. Among the various options available, critical illness and long-term disability insurance are crucial. While both offer protection, they do so differently. Critical illness insurance guards against severe health issues, whereas disability insurance provides income if we’re unable to work due to illness or injury. This paper breaks down the differences between them, helping people understand their options and make smarter choices about their money and health.

What is Critical Illness Insurance?

Critical illness insurance is a type of insurance policy that provides a lump-sum payment to the insured if they are diagnosed with one of the specific illnesses listed in the policy. The coverage typically includes serious conditions such as cancer, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and other life-threatening diseases.

The primary purpose of this insurance is to cover expenses that are not covered by traditional health insurance policies, such as deductibles, co-pays, travel to treatment centers, childcare, and lost income due to inability to work, as well as any other financial needs that arise during the treatment and recovery process.

The specifics of what is covered, the amount of the lump-sum payment, and the conditions under which it is paid can vary significantly from one policy to another. Policies often require that the insured survive a minimum period after the diagnosis, known as the survival period, which is typically around 30 days, before the benefit is payable.

Critical illness insurance can be purchased as a standalone policy or as a rider to a life insurance policy. It’s designed to ease the financial burden associated with serious illnesses, allowing the insured and their family to focus on recovery rather than financial concerns. However, it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions of a policy, including which illnesses are covered and any exclusions, before purchasing.

What are the major Critical Illness Riders?

In Canada, critical illness insurance policies can also be enhanced with various riders to provide more comprehensive coverage tailored to individual needs. Riders are optional benefits that can be added to the base policy, usually at an additional cost, to expand or adjust the coverage. Here are some common riders that may be available with critical illness insurance in Canada:

Return of Premium Rider: This rider allows for the return of some or all of the premiums paid if no claim is made on the policy by the end of its term or upon the policyholder’s death.

Waiver of Premium Rider: Should the policyholder become seriously ill or disabled, this rider waives the requirement to continue paying premiums to keep the policy active.

Additional Illness Rider: This rider adds specific illnesses to the policy’s coverage. For example, while the base policy might cover major conditions like those mentioned above, the Additional Illness Rider could extend coverage to include less common or less severe conditions such as certain types of less aggressive cancers, early-stage diseases, bacterial meningitis, or other serious ailments.

Partial Benefit Rider: Provides a portion of the sum assured for diagnoses of less severe conditions or early stages of critical illnesses not covered by the main policy.

Child Illness Rider: Offers coverage for the policyholder’s children for specific critical illnesses, adding a layer of protection for the family under the same policy.

In Canada, the specific riders available, their costs, and the terms and conditions attached to them can vary widely among insurance providers. Critical illness insurance plans and the associated riders are regulated by provincial and territorial insurance regulations, which can also influence the types of riders available and their features.

When considering critical illness insurance and riders in Canada, it’s important to compare offerings from different insurers, carefully read the policy documents, and possibly consult with a financial advisor or insurance broker. These steps can help ensure that you select the right policy and riders to meet your needs, providing you with the desired level of financial protection in the event of a serious health condition.

What is Long-Term Disability Insurance?

In Canada, Long-term disability (LTD) insurance serves as a financial safeguard for individuals who find themselves unable to work for extended periods due to a disability. This type of insurance replaces a portion of the insured’s income, typically around 60% to 65%, during times when their disability prevents them from fulfilling their job responsibilities.

The coverage starts after a predetermined waiting period, usually between 90 to 120 days following the onset of disability or after the expiration of short-term disability benefits. It continues until the beneficiary can return to work, reaches a certain age (often 65), or for a duration specified by the policy.

The definition of disability varies across policies; some define it as an inability to perform one’s own job, while others extend it to any job for which the individual is qualified through education or experience. Eligibility for LTD benefits hinges on meeting the policy’s specific criteria, including having a qualifying medical condition and completing the necessary waiting period.

Premiums for this insurance may be paid by the employer, the employee, or a combination of both. Notably, if the employer covers the premium costs, any benefits received by the employee may be taxable. In contrast, benefits are typically tax-free if the premiums are paid by the employee with after-tax dollars.

Although some Canadian employees have access to LTD coverage through their employer’s group benefits, others, particularly the self-employed or those whose employers do not offer such benefits, might need to secure an individual policy.

While government programs like the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefit offer some support, they provide limited coverage and are not accessible to everyone. As such, LTD insurance is an essential part of financial planning, offering a crucial income replacement to those facing long-term disabilities. Individuals are advised to carefully consider various factors, such as benefit period length, benefit amount, waiting periods, and the insurer’s definition of disability, when choosing a policy. Consulting with a financial advisor or insurance broker can also help in selecting the most appropriate coverage, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the policy’s terms and conditions.

What Types of Illness does Critical Illness Cover?

Critical illness insurance policies are designed to provide financial protection against the financial impact of serious health conditions. While the specific illnesses covered can vary by insurer and policy, there are several major illnesses that are commonly included in critical illness insurance policies. Here are some of the major illnesses typically covered:

Cancer: Coverage often includes various types of cancer, but it’s important to note that insurers may exclude certain early-stage cancers or specific types (e.g., skin cancer) unless they meet defined severity criteria.

Heart Attack: This is one of the core conditions covered by most critical illness policies, but the policy may specify the severity or type of heart attack based on medical criteria.

Stroke: Coverage usually includes strokes that lead to permanent neurological damage, with specific definitions provided in the policy terms.

Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery: Many policies cover this surgery, which is performed to bypass blocked arteries in the heart.

Kidney Failure (End-Stage Renal Failure): This condition often requires dialysis or a kidney transplant and is covered under most critical illness plans.

Major Organ Transplant: Coverage typically includes the transplantation of major organs, such as the heart, lung, liver, kidney, or pancreas.

Multiple Sclerosis: A chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, covered by many policies.

Paralysis: The loss of the ability to move one or more muscles, often as a result of nerve damage.

Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementias: Coverage often requires a specific level of severity, such as significant cognitive impairment necessitating supervision.

Parkinson’s Disease: Some policies cover Parkinson’s disease if diagnosed after the policy starts, excluding cases diagnosed shortly after the policy inception to prevent claims for pre-existing conditions.

In addition to these major conditions, critical illness policies may cover a wider range of conditions, such as severe burns, loss of speech, loss of hearing, and major head trauma, among others. The exact list of covered conditions, definitions, and exclusions will vary from one policy to another, so it’s important to carefully review the policy details.

Some policies offer broader coverage with additional riders, as previously discussed, which can expand the list of covered conditions to include less common or less severe illnesses. It’s also worth noting that many insurers require a diagnosis to be confirmed by a medical specialist and may impose a waiting period from the policy start date before a claim can be made for certain conditions.

What does Disability Insurance Cover?

On the other hand, disability insurance covers a portion of the regular income that you have if you’re not able to work. Almost all policies covered disabilities caused by accidents and illnesses, whether that’s a physical injury or chronic illness or mental health condition, cancer, heart disease or stroke. What matters is whether or not a claimant satisfies the definition of disability as set out in their long-term disability policy.

In Canadian disability insurance policies, the concept of total disability can be defined in two distinct ways: through “own occupation” and “any occupation” criteria.

The “own occupation” definition considers a policyholder to be totally disabled if they are unable to perform the duties of their specific occupation due to an illness or injury. This definition is more favorable to the insured, as it allows for the receipt of disability benefits if they are unable to continue in their current profession, even if they might be capable of working in a different field. For example, a surgeon who can no longer perform surgeries because of a steady hand tremor would be eligible for benefits under an “own occupation” policy, despite potentially being able to work in another capacity.

Conversely, the “any occupation” definition is broader and stipulates that to be considered totally disabled, the individual must be unable to perform the duties of any occupation for which they are reasonably suited by education, training, or experience. This definition makes it more challenging to qualify for benefits, as the policyholder must demonstrate an inability to work in any reasonable job, not just their chosen profession. Both definitions aim to provide financial support in the event of a disabling illness or injury, but they significantly differ in terms of the level of disability required to trigger benefits.

What is the Difference Between Critical Illness and Disability Insurance?

Critical illness insurance and long-term disability insurance are two types of policies designed to provide financial protection in the event of serious health issues, but they serve different purposes and operate under different terms. In Canada, here are the main differences between the two:

Purpose and Benefit Trigger

Critical Illness Insurance provides a lump-sum payment if the policyholder is diagnosed with one of the specific illnesses covered by the policy. The payout is intended to help cover medical and living expenses during recovery or treatment. The benefit is triggered by the diagnosis of a covered illness, not by the policyholder’s ability to work.

Long-Term Disability Insurance offers monthly payments to the policyholder if they are unable to work due to a disability, whether caused by illness or injury. The payments are a percentage of the policyholder’s income and are designed to replace that income during the period of disability. The benefit is triggered by the inability to work, as defined by the policy.


Critical Illness Insurance covers a predefined list of illnesses, such as cancer, heart attack, and stroke. The focus is on the illness itself rather than the impact it has on the individual’s ability to work.

Long-Term Disability Insurance is broader in the sense that it covers any condition (subject to policy exclusions) that renders the policyholder unable to work. This includes both physical and mental health conditions.

Payment Structure

Critical Illness Insurance pays out a one-time lump sum that can be used at the policyholder’s discretion. There are no restrictions on how this money can be spent.

Long-Term Disability Insurance provides ongoing monthly payments, usually until the policyholder is able to return to work, reaches a specific age (often 65), or for a set period defined in the policy.

Duration of Benefits

Critical Illness Insurance does not provide ongoing support; the lump sum is paid out once, and the policy may terminate or continue with reduced benefits after a claim is made.

Long-Term Disability Insurance offers a sustained income replacement, providing financial support over a longer period, potentially until the policyholder retires, depending on the policy terms.

Premiums and Underwriting

Premiums and underwriting criteria can vary significantly between the two types of insurance, often reflecting the different risks and coverage offered. Critical illness insurance premiums are based on the likelihood of contracting a specific illness, while long-term disability insurance premiums consider the risk of any disability affecting the insured’s ability to work.


In summary, critical illness and long-term disability insurance in Canada cater to different needs. Critical illness insurance provides a financial safety net upon the diagnosis of specific serious illnesses, offering flexibility in how the funds are used. In contrast, long-term disability insurance replaces income lost due to an inability to work, providing ongoing financial support. Understanding these differences is crucial for individuals planning their financial protection strategy against health-related risks.

Have you been Denied Long-Term Disability? Don’t Give up. Our Disability Lawyers can Help.

For almost forty years, our seasoned team of long-term disability attorneys has committed to championing the rights of claimants throughout the disability claims process. We are deeply empathetic to the physical, emotional, and financial strain that discontinuing disability benefits can cause. Our team deeply understands the pressures and obstacles you might face when dealing with insurance adjusters and the undue stress of being pushed to return to work too soon.

Our mission is to help you secure the long-term disability benefits you are entitled to, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery without the burden of financial concerns. If you or someone you know is dealing with colon cancer and has encountered denial or improper cessation of long-term disability insurance benefits, we stand ready to offer our support. Our services aim to ensure you obtain the necessary benefits, providing financial relief during your recovery.

Our practice, located in Hamilton, Ontario, serves disability claimants nationwide.

We provide complimentary consultations to individuals in Ontario or anywhere in the country. Contact us toll-free at 1-844-4-DISABILITY. You can also contact us confidentially through our website. We are eager to discuss your rights and legal options regarding long-term disability at no cost to you.



start your case844-434-7224


Article FAQ

What is the main difference between critical illness insurance and long-term disability insurance?

Critical illness insurance provides a lump-sum payment if you are diagnosed with one of the specified critical illnesses covered by the policy. This payment can be used for any purpose, including medical treatment, living expenses, or paying off debt. Long-term disability insurance, on the other hand, offers monthly payments if you are unable to work due to a disability, providing income replacement for a specified period or until you are able to return to work.

Can I have both critical illness and long-term disability insurance?

Yes, you can have both types of insurance concurrently. Critical illness insurance complements long-term disability insurance by offering a lump-sum payment that can help cover immediate expenses after a critical illness diagnosis, whereas long-term disability insurance provides ongoing financial support if you’re unable to work. Having both policies provides a broader safety net.

How do I qualify for benefits under critical illness and long-term disability insurance?

For critical illness insurance, you must be diagnosed with one of the covered illnesses specified in your policy. The diagnosis typically needs to be confirmed by a medical specialist. For long-term disability insurance, you must prove that your disability prevents you from performing your job or any job, depending on your policy’s definition of disability, for a certain period known as the “elimination period” before benefits begin.

What are the typical waiting periods for critical illness and long-term disability insurance?

Critical illness insurance usually has a waiting period (often called a “survival period”) of about 30 days from the diagnosis of a covered condition before the lump-sum payment is made. Long-term disability insurance has an elimination period that can range from 30 to 90 days or longer, during which you must be continuously disabled before benefits start.

Are there any conditions that are commonly covered by both critical illness and long-term disability insurance?

Yes, there are conditions that may be covered by both types of insurance, such as cancer, stroke, and heart attack. However, the coverage criteria might differ. For critical illness insurance, the specific diagnosis of the condition triggers the benefit. For long-term disability insurance, the focus is on whether the condition prevents you from working, regardless of the specific illness.


Do I Have A Disability Case?


If you’ve been denied disability or your benefits have been terminated – fill in the form below.  We are more than happy to review your case and get right back to you.

      “Matt Lalande halped get my long-term disability benefits back. It was a longer fight than expected, but he managed to help make things right again. Would recommend A+++++ Thank you Matt.”

      Patricia Williamson

      Long-Term Disability

      “Matt Lalande helped me attain my long-term disability benefits. The denial of benefits caused me substantial stress on top of my existing condition. Matt Lalande and his team were very understanding and explained the whole process clearly. They were confident that we would be successful. Dealing ...

      Cheryl Oddie

      Long-Term Disability

      My experience with Mr. Matt Lalande and his team was exceptional. Matt is a very impressive professional when involved in a long-term disability benefits denial. Matt and Heather responded to all my emails and phone calls in a prompt and efficient manner. Matt is a great and honest lawyer. I highly reco...

      Payne Momich

      Long-Term Disability

    view all testimonials

    Long-Term Disability


    view all case results