3 most common critical Illnesses (CI) among Malaysians. Are you prepared?

31 March 2023 | Kuala Lumpur

There are many types of critical illnesses, with most insurers and takaful operators out there covering 36 of the known critical illnesses, and some as high as 160. However, did you know that among them all, cancer, heart attack, and stroke account for 85% of critical illness claims made? In this article, you will learn more about these illnesses and how you can prepare yourself for the unfortunate event of a critical illness.

What Is Critical Illness?

As its name suggests, critical illness, or CI for short, refers to severe illnesses that may affect your mobility or quality of life such as cancer, heart-attack, stroke, kidney failure. These conditions can be chronic, meaning it will require long-term care and often need constant medical treatments to maintain the patient’s quality of life. This demand can be financially draining. Many people find it difficult to cope with the expenses brought about by these illnesses, especially when they find themselves unable to work due to their health condition.

Critical Illness Statistics in Malaysia

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, heart disease, pneumonia, and cerebrovascular diseases are the top 3 causes of death, while cancer, heart attack, stroke are the major critical illnesses that affect our people.

Critical Illness list

Typically, insurance or takaful industry would provide coverage for the following 36 critical illnesses (though note that this is not exhaustive list of diseases and medical conditions, some insurers or takaful operators might cover more):

  • Alzheimer’s Disease / Severe Dementia
  • Angioplasty and Other Invasive Treatment for Coronary Artery Disease
  • Bacterial Meningitis
  • Benign Brain Tumour
  • Blindness - Permanent and Irreversible
  • Brain Surgery
  • Brain Surgery
  • Cancer
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Chronic Aplastic Anaemia
  • Coma
  • Coronary Artery Bi-Pass Surgery
  • Deafness - Permanent and Irreversible
  • Encephalitis
  • End-Stage Liver Failure
  • End-Stage Lung Disease
  • Fulminant Viral Hepatitis
  • Heart Attack
  • Heart Valve Surgery
  • HIV Infection Due to Blood Transfusion
  • Kidney Failure
  • Loss of Independent Existence
  • Loss of Speech
  • Major Head Trauma
  • Major Organ / Bone Marrow Transplant
  • Medullary Cystic Disease
  • Motor Neuron Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Paralysis of Limbs
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Primary Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
  • Serious Coronary Artery Disease
  • Stroke
  • Surgery to Aorta
  • Terminal Illness
  • Third Degree Burns

What are the top 3 most common critical illnesses in Malaysia?

Heart attack, cancer and stroke are considered the top 3 most common critical illnesses prevalent in the general population, and these 3 account for 85% of the critical illness claims.


Cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in Malaysia and it can happen to just about anyone. One in ten males and one in nine females are at risk of developing cancer in Malaysia. The 2012-2016 National Cancer Registry Report shows an 11% increase in cases compared to the previous 2007-2011 edition. In 2021, the number of annual cancer cases reported stood at 48,639, and cancer is set to rise by 2030. The same source also mentioned that the cancer survival rate in Malaysia is reported to be lower than the average cancer survival rate of developed countries. The Malay Mail reported in 2018 that the survival rate of cancer is lower in Malaysia due to the lack of awareness and access to treatment. Therefore, it is very important for everyone to have a health plan to combat this illness.


Stroke is a cerebrovascular disease that occurs when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a clot or ruptured blood vessel. It is among the top 5 hospitalization causing illnesses in Malaysia and the third leading cause of death after coronary heart disease and pneumonia. 

With stroke management estimated costs to be one fifth of a billion ringgit, it has been reported that stroke patients bear most long-term disability costs. Alarmingly, statistics for stroke in Malaysia by 2040 are expected to affect 1 in 4 people. Therefore, it is even more important that we as Malaysians proactively safeguard ourselves in case of an unfortunate situation. There are active steps we can take to prevent stroke such as having a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and limiting the consumption of alcohol.

Heart Attack

Heart attack is a leading cause of death for both genders in Malaysia, and for all major ethnic groups, accounting for 17% of deaths in 2020. It is caused by the blockage of blood flow to the heart due to the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Cases of heart attacks happening among younger Malaysians are also increasing in occurrence.

Getting Protected Against Critical Illnesses

Insuring or protecting yourself can make a significant difference to your family’s future and financial security. It also gives certificate/policyholders peace of mind and lets them focus on recovering without worrying about passing on a financial burden to their family.

The following are some plans in the market we would recommend getting to prepare yourself in the unfortunate event of a critical illness:

- Medical Takaful Plan, to cover the cost of hospitalisation, both in-patient and out-patient

- Cancer Insurance or Takaful Plan, which will provide a payout upon the diagnosis of cancer, with some plans also giving a payout upon early diagnosis

- Critical Illness Insurance or Takaful Plan, which will provide a payout upon the diagnosis of the critical illnesses covered by the plan

Importance of critical illness insurance or takaful plan

If you have had a history of any of these major critical illnesses in your family, it is important that you consider including them when deciding on a protection plan.

A good critical illness insurance or takaful plan should allow you to focus on your recovery instead of bills, living expenses, and other costs that come with a critical illness diagnosis.

From as low as RM10.27/month, FWD Big 3 Critical Illness is a critical illness protection plan that covers you for the top 3 most common critical illnesses in Malaysia - heart attack, cancer, and stroke, which account for 85% of CI claims at 40% of the price of a regular critical illness plan. With no medical examinations required, this plan provides you with a lump sum benefit of up to RM250,000 if you are diagnosed. To equip you better, the plan also comes with a RM20,000 death benefit due to all causes and an optional enhancement coverage for 24 neurological and heart conditions. Get a critical illness quote now.