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What is the Survival Period in Health Insurance?

Survival period is a term that’s quite pivotal for critical illness insurance holders. The survival period in a health insurance plan corresponds to the minimum duration of time that the insured individual must survive after being diagnosed with a critical illness to qualify for the benefits from the said policy. While different insurance providers have different durations of survival periods mentioned in their plans, most fall within the range of 14-30 days. 

Do You Get a Return on Premium During the Survival Period?

No. Under a critical illness plan, the policyholder is entitled to a lump-sum payment upon receiving a critical diagnosis. Since this payout is only processed after the survival period has ended, you will not be allowed to file critical illness-related claims before the end of this period. Thus, you won’t be entitled to a return on premium during the survival period. Moreover, unlike life insurance plans, critical illness plans do not offer policyholders any death benefits. Thus, if an individual is diagnosed with a critical illness and happens to pass away before the lapse of the survival period in the health insurance plan, no policy benefits will accrue to the individual’s dependents. In other words, policyholders are only entitled to returns on premiums (as lump-sum payment) if they’ve been diagnosed with a critical illness and have lived through the stated survival period in the health insurance plan

Should You Consider Survival Period While Buying a Critical Illness Insurance Policy?

Yes. Shouldering the cost of critical illness treatments can be quite draining and especially unfair if you are already covered by a critical insurance plan. Plans with longer survival periods can aggravate this financial burden by requiring you to fund such treatments with your own reserves until the coverage amount is paid. A health insurance plan with a shorter survival period helps ease the burden on your pocket at such dire times. To ensure that you don’t have to wait 30 days for the coverage amount to be processed, you should ideally compare health insurance before purchase.

Is Survival Period and Waiting Period the Same?

No. A survival period is peculiar to only critical illness plans, while a waiting period is applicable across health insurance policies, including critical illness plans. While a survival period in health insurance is the time you need to wait for the insurance payout to be processed after a critical illness diagnosis, a waiting period corresponds to the duration you need to wait before filing a claim against your policy. Common waiting period instances in health plans include pre-existing disease waiting periods, maternity waiting periods, critical illness waiting periods, etc. 


The waiting periods of health insurance plans tend to be longer than most survival periods in health insurance plans. For instance, pre-existing disease (PED) waiting periods can range from a few months to up to 4 years. During this time interval, you will not be eligible to file claims relating to your PED. However, the survival period for the same policy may be 20 days, in which case you will be entitled to the lump-sum policy payout if you survive this period after a critical illness diagnosis. Additionally, while the survival period in health insurance plans will only kick in once you’re diagnosed with a critical illness, the waiting periods in such plans are valid right from the day you purchase the policy. 

Summing It Up

The survival period clause in critical illness insurance plans is included to safeguard the insurer against mounting liabilities. Under this clause, the insurer is only liable to pay the lump-sum payout amount if you survive for a stipulated length of time after a critical diagnosis. To remain well-prepared for such medical emergencies in the future, you should opt for a policy with a shorter survival period which can help minimise out-of-pocket payments and cover your treatment costs without much delay. 


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What is the meaning of a survival period in a health insurance plan?

The survival period is the minimum number of days the policyholder must live to receive the policy benefits after a critical diagnosis. 

Do all insurance policies come with a survival period clause?

No. The survival period clause is only applicable to critical illness insurance covers.

How long does a survival period in health insurance last?

While the duration of survival periods differs from one insurer to the next, most such periods fall within the range of 14 to 30 days.

Does a critical illness plan come with a death benefit payout?

No. Most critical illness plans don’t offer a death benefit payout. Thus, in the event of your unfortunate demise during the survival period, your dependents will not be entitled to any payout from such plans.

What is the importance of the survival period in a health insurance plan?

The survival period is undoubtedly very important as the shorter the duration of this period, the faster you will receive the lump-sum insurance payout from your provider. This will help cover the cost of your treatments and hospitalisation, ameliorating the burden on your pocket.

Can I file a claim during the survival period?

No. You cannot file a claim during the survival period. If you happen to survive this stipulated period, you will be entitled to a lump-sum payout that will cover your medical expenses.

What should I know about critical illness plans before buying one?

Apart from the survival period clause, you should also assess the coverage and premium costs of a critical illness policy before locking it in.

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