Can you afford to have a serious illness? The facts for the UAE.

The sad and somewhat worrying fact is that anyone can suffer from a serious illness at any time. It doesn’t matter how healthy you feel, and serious illness does not discriminate by gender, age, nationality or income.

Have you considered how you are your family would manage if you were seriously ill, or if your partner became ill and unable to work for an extended period? Not happy thoughts but ones that need to be addressed.

The statistics for serious illnesses in the UAE are significant, even for a relatively young population, when compared to countries with large numbers of retired residents.

Your medical insurance should cover the cost of treatment but it won’t replace an income. That’s where critical illness cover comes in. This is a plan that will pay out a cash lump sum in the event that the policyholder is diagnosed with a serious illness and this insurance is both important and worthwhile.

Consider the statistics for the UAE:

  • 4,500 cases of cancer diagnosed every year in the UAE
  • 12 people a day on average are diagnosed with cancer
  • Average age of people suffering a heart attack is just 45 years, compared to 65 globally.
  • Expat women are THREE times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than men

The incidence of serious illness is higher for UAE residents than in many other places which demonstrates the importance of having critical illness cover in place.

Non-communicable diseases (NCD) i.e. cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory diseases and diabetes account for 67% of deaths in the UAE.  The probability of dying between the ages of 30 and 70 from one of the main four NCDs is 19%.And here are some global statistics:

  • Cancer represents 65% of all critical illness claims
  • Worldwide it is estimated that there will be 23.6 million new cases of cancer each year by 2030
  • Strokes account for 1 in 20 deaths in the US
  • 19,800 Australians died of coronary artery disease in 2013 (13% of all deaths)
  • 5 million Indians are living with cancer
  • In the UK, there are 980 cases of cancer diagnosed every day. (2014)
  • The average age of a critical illness policy claimant is 44 years in the UK

It isn’t all bad news though as medical advances and early detection means that more and more people are surviving serious illnesses.  For example, mortality rates from cardiac incidences in the UAE have reduced from 30% to just 3% in the past 30 years.Lifestyle changes and being aware of any changes so you get treated sooner can reduce your personal risk but none of us are immune to illness.

If you, or your partner, become seriously ill the last thing you want to be worrying about is money and supporting yourselves and you family. You don’t want to increase the stress by not knowing how you will pay the bills or keep your home.  A cash lump sum payment is a huge relief at such a time

This is why critical illness insurance is so important. You simply select a suitable amount that you may need, make an application, and can even add this to a life assurance policy. Upon diagnosis of a defined critical illness the insurance company will make a payment to you and also offer other support such as expert medical advice.

I have dealt with claims and seen clients receive money at a time when they really need it. As with all personal insurance policies, this is as much about reducing stress and worry at a time when you have enough to deal with as it is about the money itself.

Case studies:

  1. Miss A took out a policy in 2010 for a sum assured of £500,000. In late 2014 a routine medical check up resulted in her being referred for investigations and she was diagnosed with cancer. A claim was made and accepted which means it paid out. The money paid to her meant that she was able to take extended time away from work without worrying about income, bearing in mind the limitations of sick leave under UAE law. She was able to obtain the necessary treatment and recuperate in her own time.
  2. Mrs B was a stay at home mother with three young children when she took out cover in 2013. In 2016 she discovered a lump which upon investigation was confirmed as breast cancer. The payment of $250,000 provided additional support which enabled the family to focus on treatment and recovery without additional financial worry. They were able to pay for treatment not covered by their insurance, flew in relatives for support, and employed carers to assist at home

Plans do not have to be expensive and if life takes a wrong turn a critical illness policy could be the best investment you ever make. If you have only yourself to rely on, or have any dependents, but don’t have critical illness cover then we need to have a chat about how you can protect both yourself or your children and partner.


Take the first step in protecting yourself and your family today by emailing me at  to arrange a meeting to discuss critical illness cover, or any other personal financial planning issue.

Information on life cover in this article: Life cover to protect your family



HAAD – Health Authority Abu Dhabi

Friends Provident International Limited  (cases studies from FPI)

Cancer Research UK

World Health Organisation

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare

Association of British Insurers

About FinancialUAE

A qualified and experienced Independent Financial Adviser based in Dubai, UAE. Professional and ethical. Freelance writer on personal financial issues & the On Your Side column in The National. Founder of Facebook group British Expats Dubai. Senior Partner at Holborn Assets LLC, Dubai, UAE.
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