Most policy holder who bought the common 36 critical illnesses coverage (also known as 36 dread diseases), will have the definition clearly stated in their life insurance policy.

Here is the definition taken from Great Eastern Life insurance policy. Other life insurance company also uses the same definition although some wordings might vary. Anyway, the general definition should be the same. Here is the list:


1. Heart Attack

The death of a portion of the heart muscle (myocardium) as a result of inadequate blood supply and being evidenced by:-
(a) A history of typical prolonged chest pain; and
(b) New electrocardiographic changes resulting from this occurrence; and
(c) Elevation of the cardiac enzyme (CPK-MB) above the generally accepted laboratory levels of normal.
Diagnosis based on the elevation of Troponin T test alone shall not be considered diagnostic of a heart attack.
Angina is specifically excluded.

2. Stroke

Defined as a cerebrovascular accident or incident producing neurological sequelae of a permanent nature, having lasted not less than six months. Infarction of brain tissue, hemorrhage and embolisation from an extra-cranial source are included. The diagnosis must be based on changes seen in a CT scan or MRI and certified by a Consultant Neurologist.
Specifically excluded are cerebral symptoms due to transient ischaemic attacks, any reversible ischaemic neurological deficit, vertebrobasilar ischaemia, cerebral symptoms due to migraine, cerebral injury resulting from trauma or hypoxia and vascular disease affecting the eye or optic nerve or vestibular functions.

3. Coronary Artery Disease Requiring Surgery

Refers to the actual undergoing of coronary artery by-pass surgery by way of thoracotomy to correct or treat coronary artery disease but not including angioplasty, other intra-arterial, keyhole or laser procedures.

4. Cancer

Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth and spread of malignant cells and the invasion and destruction of normal tissue for which major interventionist treatment or surgery (excluding endoscopic procedures alone) is considered necessary. The cancer must be confirmed by histological evidence of malignancy.
The following conditions are excluded:-
(a) Carcinoma in situ including of the cervix
(b) Ductal Carcinoma in situ of the breast
(c) Papillary Carcinoma of the bladder and Stage 1 Prostate Cancer
(d) All skin cancers except malignant melanoma
(e) Stage I Hodgkin’s disease
(f) Tumors manifesting as complications of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

5. Kidney Failure

End stage kidney failure presenting as chronic irreversible failure of both kidneys to function, as a result of which regular renal dialysis is initiated or renal transplantation carried out.

6. Fulminant Viral Hepatitis

This is defined as a sub massive to massive necrosis of the liver caused by any virus leading precipitously to liver failure.
The diagnostic criteria to be met are:
(a) A rapidly decreasing liver size as confirmed by abdominal ultrasound; and
(b) Necrosis involving entire lobules, leaving only a collapsed reticular framework; and
(c) Rapidly deteriorating liver functions tests; and
(d) Deepening jaundice.
Hepatitis B infection or carrier status alone does not meet the diagnostic criteria.

7. Major Organ Transplant

The actual undergoing of a transplant as a recipient of one of the following human organs:
(a) Kidney
(b) Lung(s)
(c) Liver
(d) Heart
(e) Bone marrow

8. Paralysis / Paraplegia

The complete and permanent loss of use of both arms or both legs, or one arm and one leg, through paralysis caused by illness or injury persisting for at least six (6) months from the date of trauma or illness.

9. Multiple Sclerosis

Unequivocal diagnosis by a Consultant Neurologist confirming the following combination, which has persisted for at least a continuous period of six (6) months:
(a) Symptoms referable to tracts (white matter) involving the optic nerves, brain stem and spinal cord, producing well-defined neurological deficits; and
(b) A multiplicity or discrete lesions; and
(c) A well-documented history of exacerbation and remissions of said symptoms / neurological deficits.

10. Primary Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Means primary pulmonary hypertension with substantial right ventricular enlargement established by investigations including cardiac catheterization, resulting in permanent irreversible physical impairment to the degree of at least Class 3 of the New York Heart Association Classification of cardiac impairment, and resulting in the Life Assured being unable to perform his/her usual occupation.

11. Blindness

The total, permanent and irrecoverable loss of the sight of both eyes. Certification by an ophthalmologist is necessary.

12. Heart Valve Replacement

The actual undergoing of open-chest surgery to replace or repair cardiac valves as a consequence of heart valve defects or abnormalities that have occurred after the date of issue or date of reinstatement of this contract.
Repair, via valvotomy, intra-arterial procedure, key-hole surgery or similar techniques are specifically excluded.

13. Loss Of Hearing / Deafness

Total, permanent and irreversible loss of hearing in both ears as a result of disease or accident. Medical evidence in the form of an audiometry and sound-threshold test must be provided.

14. Surgery To Aorta

The actual undergoing of surgery via a thoracotomy or laprotomy to repair or correct an aortic aneurysm, an obstruction of the aorta or a coarctation of the aorta. For the purpose of this definition, aorta shall mean the thoracic and abdominal aorta but not its branches.

15. Loss of Speech

Total and irrecoverable loss of the ability to speak for a continuous period of 12 months. Medical evidence to confirm injury or illness to the vocal cords to support this disability must be supplied by an appropriate (Ear, Nose, Throat) specialist.
All psychiatric related causes are excluded.

16. Alzheimer’s Disease / Irreversible Organic Degenerative Brain Disorders

Deterioration or loss of intellectual capacity or abnormal behavior as evidenced by the clinical state and accepted standardized questionnaires or tests arising from Alzheimer’s Disease or irreversible organic degenerative brain disorders excluding neurosis, psychiatric illness, and any drug or alcohol related organic disorder, resulting in significant reduction in mental and social functioning requiring the continuous supervision of the Life Assured. The diagnosis must be clinically confirmed by an appropriate consultant.

17. Major Burns

Third degree burns covering at least twenty percent (20%) of the Life Assured’s body surface area as measured by “The Rule of 9″ of the Lund & Browder Body Surface Chart.

18. Coma

A state of unconsciousness with no reaction or response to external stimuli or internal needs, persisting continuously for at least 96 hours, requiring the use of life support systems and resulting in a neurological deficit, lasting more than 30 days. Confirmation by a Consultant Neurologist must be present.
Coma resulting directly from self-inflicted injury, alcohol or drug misuse is excluded.

19. Terminal Illness

The Life Assured must be suffering from a condition, which in the opinion of an appropriate Medical Practitioner is highly likely to lead to death within 12 months. The Life Assured must no longer be receiving active treatment other than that for pain relief.

20. Motor Neurone Disease

Motor neurone disease of unknown aetiology is characterized by progressive degeneration of corticospinal tracts and anterior horn cells or bulbar efferent neurons. These include spinal muscular atrophy, progressive bulbar palsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and primary lateral sclerosis.
Diagnosis must be confirmed by a Consultant Neurologist.

21. AIDS Due To Blood Transfusion

The Life Assured being infected by HIV virus or AIDS provided that:
(a) the infection is due to blood transfusion received in Malaysia or Singapore after the commencement of the Policy; and
(b) the Life Assured is not a haemophiliac; and
(c) the Life Assured is not a member of any high risk groups such as but not limited to homosexuals, intravenous drug users or sex workers.
Notification and proof of incident will be required via a statement from a statutory Health Authority that the infection is medically acquired.

22. Parkinson’s Disease

Unequivocal diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease by a Consultant Neurologist where the condition:
(a) Cannot be controlled with medication; and
(b) Shows signs of progressive impairment; and
(c) Activities of Daily Living assessment confirm the inability of the Life Assured to perform without assistance three (3) or more of the Activities of Daily Living.
Only idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease is covered. Drug-induced or toxic causes of Parkinsonism are excluded.

23. Chronic Liver Disease

End stage liver failure evidenced by permanent jaundice, ascites, encephalopathy and portal hypertension.
Wernicke’s encephalopathy and liver failure secondary to alcohol or drug misuse is excluded.

24. Chronic Lung Disease

End stage respiratory failure including chronic interstitial lung disease.
The following criteria must be met:
(a) Requiring permanent oxygen therapy as a result of a consistent FEV1 test value of less than one liter.
(Forced Expiratory Volume during the first second of a forced exhalation); and
(b) Arterial Blood Gas analysis with partial oxygen pressures of 55mmHg or less; and
(c) Dyspnoea at rest.

25. Major Head Trauma

Physical head injury causing significant permanent functional impairment lasting for a minimum period of three (3) months from the date of the trauma or injury. The resultant permanent functional impairment is to be verified by a Consultant Neurologist and duly concurred by the Company’s Medical Officer and must result in an inability to perform at least three (3) of the Activities of Daily Living either with or without the use of mechanical equipment, special devices or other aids and adaptations in use for disabled persons. For the purpose of this benefit, the word “permanent”, shall mean beyond the hope of recovery with current medical knowledge and technology.

26. Aplastic Anaemia

Chronic persistent bone marrow failure which results in total aplasia of the bone marrow and requires treatment with at least one of the following:
(a) Regular blood product transfusion
(b) Marrow stimulating agents
(c) Immunosuppressive agents
(d) Bone marrow transplantation

27. Muscular Dystrophy

The diagnosis of muscular dystrophy shall require a confirmation by a Consultant Neurologist of the combination of 3 out of 4 of the following conditions:
(a) Family history of other affected individuals
(b) Clinical presentation including absence of sensory disturbance, normal cerebro-spinal fluid and mild tendon reflex reduction
(c) Characteristic electromyogram
(d) Clinical suspicion confirmed by muscle biopsy
No benefit will be payable under this Covered Event before the Life Assured had reached the age of 12 years next birthday.

28. Benign Brain Tumor

A life-threatening, non-cancerous tumor in the brain giving rise to characteristic signs of increased intra-cranial pressure such as papilloedema, mental symptoms, seizures and sensory impairment. The presence of the underlying tumor must be confirmed by imaging studies such as CT Scan or MRI.
Cysts, granulomas, malformations in or of the arteries or veins of the brain, haematomas, tumors in the pituitary gland or spine and tumors of the acoustic nerve are excluded.

29. Encephalitis

Defined as severe inflammation of brain substance, resulting in permanent neurological deficit lasting for a minimum period of 30 days and certified by a Consultant Neurologist. The permanent deficit must result in an inability to perform at least three (3) of the Activities of Daily Living either with or without the use of mechanical equipment, special devices or other aids and adaptations in use for disabled persons. For the purpose of this benefit, the word “permanent”, shall mean beyond the hope of recovery with current medical knowledge and technology.
Encephalitis as a result of HIV infection is excluded.

30. Poliomyelitis

Unequivocal diagnosis by a Consultant Neurologist of infection with the Poliovirus leading to paralytic disease as evidenced by impaired motor function or respiratory weakness. Cases not involving paralysis will not be eligible for this benefit. Other causes of paralysis (such as Guillain-Barre syndrome) are specifically excluded.

31. Brain Surgery

The actual undergoing of surgery to the brain under general anesthesia during which a craniotomy is performed. Bur Hole and brain surgery as a result of an accident is excluded.

32. Bacterial Meningitis

Bacterial meningitis causing inflammation of the membranes of the brain or spinal cord resulting in permanent neurological deficit lasting for a minimum period of 30 days and resulting in a permanent inability to perform at least three (3) of the Activities of Daily Living either with or without the use of mechanical equipment, special devices or other aids and adaptations in use for disabled persons. For the purpose of this benefit, the word “permanent”, shall mean beyond the hope of recovery with current medical knowledge and technology.

33. Other Serious Coronary Artery Disease

The narrowing of the lumen of at least three major arteries i.e. Circumflex, Right Coronary Artery (RCA), Left Anterior Descending Artery (LAD), by a minimum of 60 percent or more as proven by coronary arteriography. This benefit is payable regardless of whether or not any form of coronary artery surgery has been performed.

34. Apallic Syndrome

Universal necrosis of the brain cortex, with the brainstem remaining intact. Diagnosis must be confirmed by a Consultant Neurologist and condition must be documented for at least one month.

35. AIDS Cover of Medical Staff

Infection by any Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) only if the Life Assured is a Medical Staff as defined below, and that such infection was considered by the medical authorities involved to be caused by a needlestick/sharp instrument injury or by exposure to blood or bloodstained body fluid which occurred after the commencement of the Policy. The accident must have occurred whilst the Life Assured was following his normal occupational duties and reported in accordance with the established occupational procedures for such accidents. The Life Assured must, within 5 days of the accident have undergone a blood test indicating the absence of HIV or its antibodies but a further blood test performed within 6 months of the accident must indicate the presence of HIV or its antibodies after the commencement of the Policy.
However, the benefit payable will not apply if any medical cure is found for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or the effects of the HIV virus or a medical treatment is developed which results in the prevention of the occurrence of AIDS.
‘Medical Staff’ is defined as Doctors (General Physicians and Specialists), nurses, laboratory technicians, dentists (surgeons and nurses), ambulance workers who are working in the medical centre or hospital or dental clinics/polyclinics in

36. Full Blown AIDS

The clinical manifestation of AIDS (Acquired Immune-deficiency Syndrome) must be supported by the results of a positive HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus) antibody test and a confirmatory Western Blot test. In addition, the Life Assured must have a CD4 cell count of less than two hundred (200) and one or more of the following criteria are met:
(a) Weight loss of more than 10% of body weight over a period of six (6) months or less (wasting syndrome)
(b) Kaposi Sarcoma
(c) Pneumocystic Carinii Pneumonia
(d) Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
(e) Active Tuberculosis
(f) Less than one-thousand (1000) lymphocytes
(g) Malignant Lymphoma

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Personal finance author and trainer

    41 replies to "Definition of 36 Critical Illnesses or Dread Diseases in Insurance Policy"

    • mariolet

      Good Afternoon, why does Lupus not fall under Dread desease?



    • Daniel

      is a stroke under a Occupational Accident Group Insurance Policy covered by this kind of insurance on the job as a o/o truck driver who had a lease contract with the trucking co. because the just make up rules to keep from paying me . They just make up all kind of rules to keep from paying me after 4.5 yrs. on this job. Do they have the right to keep from paying me.

    • Salimmurthi

      Hi, Insurance agent most of them, they them self dont understand the critical illness coverage. They r more interested in u to sign the policy and get their commission.
      The 36 illnesses is a bull shit. They lump all the rare diseases which only a small percentage of the population will be affected. If u dont believe me please check the heart attack coverage and angioplasty coverage. U can get heart attack without ecg changes this is not covered. 2) angioplast what happen if you hv one artery block or the blockage is 50% or less. There r some doctors who will put a stent even it 40%block. In the end the patient become loser. If u hv an insurance u r a money god for the hospital. I m with the medical industry for the last 30 years and seen hw patients hv suffered with claim and doctors who dont write the proper diagnosis and the patient is unable to claim.

      • Elias

        Nobody will take you seriously if you say “u” instead of “you” and “r” instead of “are,” You might want to keep that in mind, next time.

      • marietta olivar

        Yes it is true that claims are affected by how doctors write and present diagnosis.

    • Alexis

      Hi Lau

      I have been diagnosed with COPD stage 3 and the OCID10 code is J47.3 was given to me to claim against my dreaded disease, however i was now informed that the code is not for dreaded disease but for disability.

      kindly advise if there is another code for disability because my doctor is adamant that the code he gave me is correct.


    • neil dorado

      Will hepatitis b be covered if its dead and its occurri ng

    • Grace

      Mr Lau, hi I’m Grace. I bought a insurance policy which cover life 300K,permanent disabled rm300K, medical card rm150 pday, 36 critical illness early stage Rm100K. I’m paying rm1000 premium pmonth. I bought tis policy year 2012. Recently I wanted to upgrade my policy to other insurance company n i got to know in tis policy there is a exclusion which I don’t kno n not inform by my agent. I got a shock of my life! I demand an explanation from my agent n she just say sorry, she also not aware of tis exclusion!I wrote a complaint letter to the insurance company n until now ( aredi 2 months) they still haven’t give me any explanation. May i kno in tis situation wat is my right? Please guide me. Thank you.

      • KCLau

        Generally, as a client, you are required to sign a lot of documents, which is to protect all the insurance companies and agent’s liability. They have a complete legal team to come up with the thick policies.
        However, a lot of it is pretty standard, unless you sign a separate document that spells out specific exclusion on your case.

        You can file a complaint to Bank Negara too, which is the governing body.

    • Motlomo Gideon Ramatlo

      is chronic nasal polyps a dread disease?

    • lito cobrado

      HI, is CML , chronic mylogenous leukemia considered as dreaded disease?

    • Mehul

      allergic asthma and sinus tachycardia can be a critical illness disease. My lungs is 80% working and lung capacity is only 2,5 litter. can I claim on this.

      • KCLau

        Not sure.. have to ask the claim department of your insurance company.

    • lilian

      is diverticulutis adread disease for an insurance policy?

    • Judith Reid

      My friend was diagnosed with lung cancer last week. However, when the surgeons went to do their work they cut away the mass that they were concerned about. This came back as TB and not cancer. He is still in hospital, in tremendous pain and is isolated awaiting results as to what strain it is. He has been advised this condition will require at least 6 months of treatment but no further information as to how his quality of life may be during and after treatments. Is this classed as a critical illness and will he be able to make a claim against his insurance.

      • KCLau

        Claim is subjective to doctor’s report. In this case, it is up to the doctor’s report and whether it meets the definition for the claim entitlement. Check with your agent for the procedure of claim.

    • Allistair Smith

      I was diagnose with diabetes and with the result i lost my hearing in my left ear can I claim insurance for that

      • KCLau

        you can contact your insurance company to file a claim. Successful or not? It depends on how doctor define your disability and whether his definition fit the description in your policy.

    • pksahu

      Being dignosed critical illness suffered,can a person be insured in mediclaim policy ? If yes what is the process to avail the benifit for treatment.

      • KCLau

        I think it is very hard to get insured for medical anymore, if it is no impossible. You better check with agents from various companies and see if the underwriters from any of the insurance companies might accept.

    • Sara

      what is the defination of drear disease.

      • KCLau

        Dread disease is simply referring to major illnesses that is life threatening.

        • mark

          Hi Lau,

          I would like to know that if the person diagnose with HIV and brought the insurance policy with 36 critical illnesses will the policy cover the illnesses and also happen to caused other illnesses due to HIV.

          • KCLau

            I am afraid a HIV carrier will not be able to get insured. Check with the insurance company to confirm.

    • […] Definition of 36 Critical Illnesses or Dread Diseases in Insurance …May 21, 2007 … Most policy holder who bought the common 36 critical illnesses coverage (also known as 36 dread diseases), will have the definition clearly … […]

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    • Noxolo

      for two years now my daughter is been in out of hospital for serious illness due to Colony of the Bowel 4times all big operations I personally seek help on that what it says 4years having a life policy does covers her on that because her medical condition has taken it’s toll on us

    • Benjamin Teng

      KCLau, there is 3-4 changes had been made in Prudential policy where is much much more comprehensive of coverage. For example, our Cornary artery Disease for angioplasty and other invasive treatments is cover where evidence is needed. The other one is loss of hearing or deafness is been replace with Loss of independent existence. And other more. Check out our lates policy document of PruLink One.

    • Micheline Breckle

      Would like to know whether “Rheumatoid Arthritis” is also considered as a “Dread Disease”?
      Looking forward to hearing your comments.
      Kind Regards


    • Mok

      I would like to comment on Loss of Hearing part. The criteria mentioned is not specific enough. What is the definition for ‘Total’ loss? What decibel level at which speech frequencies? Most profound loss (>90dB) hearing impaired can’t understand speech sound but could still detect the sound, so, does it fall into claim criteria?
      Moreover, it doesn’t cover loss due to presbycusis (aging). Not good enough.

      • KCLau

        Hi Mok, thanks a lot of your information.

    • Loo

      Hi KC,


      I admitted hospital recently due to encephalitis for 2 weeks time.
      Before that, I had bought 2 Great Eastern policies which covering 36 critical illness?
      Am I eligible to claim (partial claim) under 36 critical illness despite term of the policy is at least 30days.
      I believe the term (30 days) is referring to Full Claim. Right?



    • CH

      Hi… been thinking of getting an insurance plan after reading your book – Top Money Tips for Malaysians.. I am working in the healthcare sector and is Great Eastern the only company which includes AIDS cover for medical staff under its list of 36 critical illnesses? One insurance agent told me the list of 36 critical illnesses covered is the same for all the companies as outlined by Bank Negara. Thank you.

    • kok leong


      Another question from me if we alr have the Medical Card policy and let say i am hit by Female Illness(cancer) which policy will take place.

      I understand that the latter will pay a lump sum upon disagosed with the illness. How about if i did not have the Females Illness policy can i still undergo operation and the fess be obsorp by the Medical Card plan.

      • KCLau

        Regardless of whether you own the critical illness policies, medical card (hospitalization and surgical) will still compensate your medical fees, paid to the hospital.

      • KCLau

        Hi Kok Leong,
        This is a very hard question to answer because when we buy a life insurance plan, it includes all kind of benefits, with different charges and also different premium.

    • […] lost income. Please make sure your current coverage is in line with your needs. For example, the critical illness coverage need is about three time of our annual income. We shall increase our protection to meet […]

    • […] plan where he said the attractiveness is the medical card premium can be waived even the CI (Critical Illness) portion is claimed. But I’m very afraid on the risk of the fund […]

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