Personal Finance

Edelweiss Tokio Life – Health Shield+: Frills at a cost

Rajalakshmi Nirmal | Updated on July 14, 2019 Published on July 14, 2019

The ‘term trigger’ benefit and return of premium options are new, but expensive

With increasing incidence of cancer and heart diseases among people, insurance companies have been aggressively expanding into the critical illness space. Latest to join the club is Edelweiss Tokio Life. The company recently launched Health Shield+ — a fixed benefit plan that offers protection against cancer and heart-related ailments.

With the ‘term trigger’ benefit and return of premium option under the cancer cover, the plan stands apart from other cancer policies in the market. Is the plan worth the money? Read on.

What you need to know

Health Shield+ covers minor as well as major conditions of cancer and heart ailments. There is option to take cover for only cancer (option A) or only heart-related ailments (option B) or an umbrella policy for both cancer and heart ailments (option C). On diagnosis of the illness, the plan pays the sum assured (SA) — 15 per cent for minor stage cancer or a minor heart ailment. After each of the first and second valid minor claim, the policy waives premium for five years, while allowing the protection benefit to continue. On diagnosis of a major condition (of cancer or heart), the balance SA is paid and the policy terminates. You can use the money towards medical expenses or to bridge the loss of income.

Individuals up to 65 years are covered under the policy. The maximum maturity age under the policy is 80 years for cancer cover and 70 years for options B and C. Premium payment term will be equal to the policy term. However, you can choose to pay the premium annually/ semi-annually/ quarterly/ monthly.

Under the cancer cover, Health Shield+ offers an optional death cover. For this, you need to select the ‘term trigger’ benefit. In case of death of the life insured after 365 days of survival from the date of diagnosis of any major condition, the insurer will pay an amount equal to the critical illness SA under the policy.

Note that when the ‘term trigger’ option is chosen, on the diagnosis of a major condition, all the future premiums will be waived.

The other add-on option available under the policy is return of premium.

If the life insured survives till the maturity date while the policy is in-force, the insurer shall pay back all the premiums paid for the entire policy term after deducting any amount paid towards claim(s), if any. Note that if you had chosen ‘term trigger’ benefit, the return of premium benefit will not be available for you.

Our take

The add-ons in the policy come for an additional premium and are not recommended. Unless you are someone without a basic life insurance cover, not necessary that you should go for the ‘term trigger’ benefit.

And, it is always better to take critical illness covers as pure protection plans. The ‘return of premium’ option only unnecessarily adds to cost.

Now, if you are looking for defined benefit cancer plans (where the benefit is paid in lump sum on diagnosis of the illness), there are policies in the market that offer better protection. While Health Shield+ offers protection only till 80 years (for cancer), in the case of HDFC Life Cancer Care it is 85 — the longest in the market. The maximum term offered by HDFC Life’s Cancer Care is 85 minus the individual’s age. Further, the HDFC plan pays 25 per cent of SA in case of an early stage cancer; Health Shield+ offers only 15 per cent.

The one point where Health Shield+ scores over the HDFC plan is that it waives premium for five years after a minor condition of heart or cancer; in the case of HDFC Life plan, it is only three years. On this parameter, Max Life’s and ICICI Prudential’s cancer plans do better. Both of them waive premium till the end of the policy term after a minor condition is diagnosed (in ICICI Prudential’s plan, the benefit is available if the umbrella plan of heart and cancer protect is taken). And if you are looking for a SA of higher than ₹50 lakh, ICICI Prudential’s Cancer protect may be the only option — it offers SA of ₹75 lakh.

ICICI Prudential’s Heart and Cancer Protect is a good option for those looking for defined benefit cancer plans.

Note that there is no minimum survival period requirement under the ICICI Prudential’s Cancer protect plan. Under its heart policy, the policyholder has to survive for at least seven days after the diagnosis of the ailment for the claim to be accepted.

Under Health Shield+ claim, any cancer-related condition shall be admissible if the life insured has survived for more than seven days following the date of diagnosis. Claim for any heart-related condition under this policy shall be admissible if the life insured has survived for more than 30 days following the date of diagnosis by the medical practitioner.

On premium terms, Health Shield+ (base plan) is less expensive compared to ICICI Prudential’s Heart and Cancer Protect. The maximum age up to which protection will be available under ICICI Prudential’s Heart and Cancer Protect is 75. It pays 25 per cent of SA in early stage cancer or a minor health condition.

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