What Is Critical Illness Insurance, and Do You Need It?

by Laura Cave, Director of Marketing at Brella | March 17, 2021

While an increasing average life expectancy in the U.S. is certainly a good thing, getting older can come at a high cost. For decades, people have turned to critical illness insurance plans to help offset the costs of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and other serious illnesses that are more likely to occur as we get older. Rising medical costs and insurance plans with high deductibles create a scary gap in coverage for aging Americans. Critical illness insurance was meant to help cover costs when traditional insurance coverage ended.

Sounds like a good plan to have, right? Not necessarily, especially when you consider how times have changed and what critical illness insurance actually covers. It’s not uncommon today to see critical illness benefits in the $25,000 or $50,000 range. But since today’s health insurance plans no longer have annual limits, such big payouts may be more than you actually need. Plus, most critical illness plans include only a handful of the most dangerous or life-threatening illnesses, so if you’re diagnosed with one that’s not on the list, you aren’t covered. 

So, there may be some drawbacks to critical illness insurance that might have you wondering: Should I get critical illness insurance to round out my health coverage?

Is Critical Illness Insurance Worth It?

Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to enroll in a critical illness insurance plan.

1. Does Critical Illness offer the coverage you need?

As mentioned, CI plans offer big payouts for a few illnesses, but they typically cover only 4%* of conditions that would require urgent medical attention. CI plans also don’t cover injuries. If you’re younger and active, you might want to look for a supplemental health insurance plan that covers more conditions — including both illnesses and injuries — instead.

2. Does a Critical Illness plan meet your financial needs?

The average working American has an annual deductible of $1,644. This number is even higher for families with employer-sponsored health insurance. Meanwhile, only 39% of Americans can afford to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense. If your primary exposure is your health insurance cost-sharing responsibility, consider working on your savings or invest in a supplemental health insurance plan that pays cash for more health issues that could put you in a position of owing thousands toward your deductible.

3. Is the plan going to give you a good experience?

Unfortunately today’s typical insurance experience is complex, frustrating, and not all that consumer friendly. When it comes to the type of conditions covered under a critical illness plan, you may be asked to jump through a lot of hoops to file a claim. From confusing forms to long payout times to rushed customer service, today’s experience leaves a lot to be desired. If you’ve been through a stressful medical encounter, the last thing you want is a stressful insurance experience. 

Take the time to understand the claims process and how the insurance company supports you in these tough times. Go with a plan that offers straightforward claims and payout processes so you can actually reap the rewards promised to you. And go with a plan that offers members the support they need, especially when they’re critically ill and need it the most.

Brella does just that. We are a modern alternative to critical illness insurance for people who want additional supplemental coverage that helps ease the burden of your health plan’s deductible, copays, and other expenses that crop up when you’re sick or injured. Our plan offers wide-ranging coverage (beyond just a handful of the most critical conditions), affordable premiums to suit any budget, an easy claims submission process, and fast payouts. Plus, you can work with the same Brella Concierge throughout your membership. In short, Brella is an innovative supplemental plan designed to give you the coverage you need and the peace of mind you deserve.

If you’re interested in Brella, you can read more about our plans here or ask your employer or broker to get in touch with us at sales@joinbrella.com.

*Source: Statistic aggregated based on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) annual reports on emergency room diagnoses for working-age adults in the U.S.

4 Things to Know Before Enrolling in an Accident Insurance Policy

by Laura Cave, Director of Marketing at Brella | March 3, 2021

For those with active lifestyles, high-risk jobs, or accident-prone kids, accident insurance may seem like a no-brainer. Chances are, it’s been part of your benefits package for years, and you keep renewing it just in case. But if you haven’t used your accident plan, have found that your claims are denied when you try to use it, or don’t understand what it even does, then you’re not alone.

So what is accident insurance exactly, and why do you need it?

Accident insurance is a type of supplemental health insurance plan designed to pay a one-time lump sum that you can use as a cushion against expenses your health insurance doesn’t cover. But accident plans typically offer only limited coverage and have stringent rules you must follow before receiving a benefit. Consider these four factors before enrolling in or renewing an accident insurance policy so you don’t get stuck with a plan that doesn’t work for you.

1. Understand what’s covered.

Did you know that accident plans cover only 19%* of conditions that require urgent medical attention? So it’s possible you or a family member will need to go to urgent care or the ER for a health issue that isn’t covered by your accident insurance plan. What’s more, traditional accident plans are designed to cover accidental injuries, not illnesses. Your benefits depend on the type of injury you have, such as fractures, lacerations, and dislocations. Make sure you understand what’s considered an accident for your accident insurance by reading the policy documents.

2. Make sure you know how to file a claim.

Having accident insurance might provide peace of mind, but that can quickly turn stressful if it’s not easy to file a claim. Look for an online or paper claim form, and be sure to review the instructions. How long will it take to receive your benefit? What kind of documentation is required? This documentation is technically called your “proof of loss,” and knowing what’s required in advance can help you collect the right information from your providers along the way to ensure your claim is approved.

3. Evaluate the premiums.

Accident insurance — like most supplemental health insurance plans — is considered a voluntary benefit, which means the premiums are often paid by you (the employee). Check out what it will cost you per paycheck, per month, and per year, and consider whether those dollars are best spent on an accident-only plan or something else that covers a broader spectrum of illness and injury.

4. Look for a plan with broader coverage.

It’s impossible to know for sure whether you or someone in your family will be accidentally injured in the coming year. Instead of gambling on accident insurance, you could look for a supplemental health insurance plan with broader coverage.

Brella, for example, covers 13,000 conditions, including all kinds of injuries and illnesses. In fact, we cover 76% of conditions that would require urgent medical attention. Plans with more wide-ranging coverage have a greater chance of being useful if you or a loved one has an unexpected health issue during the year.

The bottom line? Before you sign up for any kind of accident insurance or supplemental plan, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand what’s covered, how to claim your benefits, and what it will cost. Then, look for the best way to put your hard-earned dollars to work as you prepare financially for tomorrow’s health issues.

If you’re interested in Brella, you can read more about our plans here or ask your employer or broker to get in touch with us at sales@joinbrella.com.

*Source: Statistic aggregated based on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) annual reports on emergency room diagnoses for working-age adults in the U.S.

Why it’s smart to have supplemental health insurance

by Laura Cave | August 22, 2020

Too often all it takes is one unexpected injury or illness to drain a family’s bank account— even for people with health insurance. Where do all these costs come from? Here are just a few ways that financial hardship often follows health hardships, and why supplemental health insurance can be a smart supplement to your health benefits.

Health Insurance Cost-sharing

The average employee health plan today has a $1600+ deductible for single coverage, and deductibles for families are much higher. You can expect to pay cash for medical care until you reach your deductible, and if there is a separate pharmacy deductible, it could leave you on the hook for costly medications before your coverage kicks in.

After your deductible, you’ll share the cost of your care with the insurance company by paying co-pays or co-insurance, which is a % of the medical bill. When you reach your out-of-pocket max, which is $3,000 or more for most people, you’ll typically be covered for the rest of the year, but look out for limitations on coverage, especially for services like physical therapy.

Denied health insurance claims

Increasingly, health plans may not cover care that happens outside their network of healthcare providers. Experimental and alternative treatments often are not covered as well. You may also see claims denied for not following rules that require prior authorization, proof of medical necessity, or step therapy that shows you’ve failed to find relief with less expensive treatments.

Everyday expenses

Almost everyone has some exposure to medical bills, and pre-tax health savings accounts (HSA) can help cover those costs. But what your HSA dollars can’t cover is other expenses that happen because you’re out of commission with an injury or illness.

What would happen if you weren’t able to do all the things you normally handle in your household? Who will watch the kids, walk the dog, mow the lawn, and put dinner on the table every night? How would you get to and from doctor appointments? Would your absence from work mean a loss of income?

Health insurance doesn’t cover these kinds of costs, and you can’t use health savings account funds to cover them either.

What’s so smart about supplemental?

Supplemental health insurance is designed to provide financial support when costs like the above add financial strain to a health hardship.

The problem has been that, historically, supplemental plans have only covered narrow groups of conditions, so you’d have to buy as many as 4 plans to get comprehensive coverage. Brella’s simple supplemental plan is different. It covers 13,000+ conditions, including an option to cover chronic diseases and mental health, and you can personalize your payouts to get the level of financial support you need.

If you’re diagnosed with a covered condition, use our app to submit a claim in minutes and, once approved, get paid in hours—not weeks. Use it to pay for anything you need on the road to recovery from medical bills to groceries and childcare.

In short, a supplemental plan like Brella is smart because it compliments your benefits to cover costs that other plans miss.

How to File a Claim with Brella

Too many Americans with supplemental health insurance benefits run into pages of forms, byzantine rules, and broken websites when they turn to their plan for help with medical expenses. So one of our top priorities in building Brella was to make it easy to file a claim and get paid quickly.

We built Brella to say yes to claims.

We set out to build a modern supplemental benefit that actually pays benefits! To deliver on this promise, we designed a simple, comprehensive plan that’s easy to use. Just log on to our mobile app, submit a claim in minutes, and get paid in hours, not weeks.

Saying yes to claims starts with a straightforward plan design. Our plans cover 13,000+ conditions so unlike traditional supplemental plans, Brella is one wide-ranging benefit that pays for critical illness, accidents, cancer, and more, all in one plan. We pay on diagnosis, so the rules are simple. It doesn’t matter where you get care or what treatment you receive. Your diagnosis is all we need to pay cash you can use to cover medical expenses or everyday costs.

So how do you file a claim?

Filing a claim can be notoriously hard to do with traditional insurers. With Brella, you can forget faxes and file a claim from anywhere in minutes with our mobile app.

First, tell us what happened. We’ll ask you for a few details to help us understand your condition.

Next, send us photos to verify your diagnosis. Upload photos of your discharge papers, your wristband, an IV bag, or your cast—anything you have on hand that validates your claim. We accept evidence of your diagnosis from the point of care so you don’t have to wait for bills or paperwork to come in the mail before you can file a claim. We made our requirements flexible in an effort to work with what you’ve got. Hit submit and we’ll review everything within hours.

Transparency every step of the way

After you submit your claim to Brella, it lives on your claims dashboard in the Brella mobile app. Check back any time to see the updated status. Once we’ve reviewed your claim, we’ll let you know that you’ve been approved, or we’ll reach out to you for more information. Our concierge team is available via phone, chat, or email to answer questions anytime throughout the process.

Get paid in hours, not weeks.

A big part of creating a plan that’s designed to say yes is making it easy to get paid. When you become a Brella member, you’ll designate whether you want to be paid by Venmo, Paypal, or ACH to your bank account. That way, we’re set up to pay you quickly anytime you submit a claim. You can change your payment preferences anytime with a few taps in our mobile app.

The majority of our claims are paid within 72 hours, and we’re just getting started. We plan to automate parts of the claims approval process so in the future most payments will happen automatically and instantly.

Claims are at the heart of Brella

Historically, too many Americans have had a confusing and inconvenient experience filing a claim, and this has broken consumer trust with the entire industry.

We built Brella to be a better option and to stand in the gap for the millions of American families who are exposed to medical expenses when health issues arise. We hope to earn trust with a convenient claims process that’s easy to use and delivers on our promise to pay cash quickly whenever you’re sick or injured with a covered condition.

How Brella Helps with COVID-19

COVID-19 reveals why everyone needs supplemental insurance. Over the past few months, we’ve seen COVID-19 send thousands of Americans to the hospital, and many are worried about how they’ll pay for the care they received. In fact, medical worker, Derrick Smith, shared the story of a patient who used his last breaths before being put on a ventilator to ask his wife how they’d pay for his care—a concern no one should have while struggling to breathe.

A few major health insurers have temporarily waived cost-sharing for COVID-related treatment, and the CARES Act has made screenings free, but the financial damage remains to be seen. With 45% of employees on health plans with $2000+ deductibles, out-of-pocket costs could be substantial.

This crisis highlights the reality of financial hardship that too often comes with unexpected medical issues. To address this, we’ve built a new, comprehensive, supplemental insurance plan to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses that health insurance doesn’t cover.

What’s wrong with today’s supplemental plans?

Supplemental plans were designed in the 1980’s to cover narrow groups of conditions like critical illness, accidents, or cancer so you’d have coverage if your health insurance reached its annual max.

But today’s health plans don’t have annual limits. Today we have high deductibles, which leaves families with health insurance exposed to big medical bills for things like pneumonia, appendicitis, or a broken wrist, before their health insurance ever kicks in.

If you have a supplemental plan today, chances are COVID-19 wasn’t around when you enrolled, so it may not be covered. Insurers won’t have an opportunity to add coverage until the next enrollment cycle. Meanwhile, the virus can trigger a wide range of complications that may or may not qualify for coverage.

Plus, many legacy supplemental plans rely on outdated rules and technology, so members have to track down paperwork and fax in complicated forms to submit a claim. Then they wait for weeks, and their claims are frequently denied.

Brella is one simple benefit that pays when it counts

Brella is a modern, comprehensive supplemental benefit that pays cash in hours, not weeks, if you’re diagnosed with any of 13,000+ covered conditions. Members can customize their Brella plan to get coverage that compliments their health insurance and supports their health needs, including chronic conditions and mental health.

So how does Brella cover a disease like COVID-19?

While COVID-19 is not a covered diagnosis, Brella covers many of the most severe complications of the disease including, pneumonia, acute respiratory failure, sepsis, certain heart issues, and kidney issues. There’s no supplemental plan on the market today that covers such a wide range of conditions.

When we designed the Brella plan for comprehensive coverage, we never imagined our strategy would position us to cover the effects of a disease that didn’t even exist yet. But we’re so glad it does! This is exactly why we built Brella.

Health hardship shouldn’t mean financial hardship

Derrick Smith’s story went viral because we are all grappling with the reality that too many American families are facing financial hardship because of unexpected health issues. Brella exists to change this.

We are looking forward to working with brokers and employers to make comprehensive, supplemental benefits available to teams starting this summer in Texas. We know brokers are looking for better benefit solutions, and employers want to provide competitive benefits that truly cover their employees and their families. If that’s you, get in touch!

Brella Concierge: A Force for Yes

Supplemental insurance companies are famous for saying no. With only a few covered conditions, lots of rules, and outdated technology, there are so many reasons why legacy plans struggle to say yes to members.

We built Brella from the ground up to say yes. We offer one simple plan you can personalize to get coverage for 13,000+ conditions that require urgent medical care. We use new technology to automate the claims process so we can say yes in hours, not weeks. And we’re staffing a Brella Concierge team that will be a force for yes in an industry that has become synonymous with no.

Isn’t this just a fancy way of talking about customer service? What’s different about Brella’s Concierge?

We’re so glad you asked. Brella’s Concierge team is a network of local representatives who are responsible for helping employers and members from open enrollment to renewal and every day in between.

There are a few factors that make your Brella Concierge different from anyone you’ve worked with at an insurance company before. We worked to improve the following factors when we designed our Concierge team.


When you need an answer, we won’t send you through a byzantine phone tree that leaves you shouting “representative!” just to get someone on the line. You’ll have access to answers where and when you need them. You might find an answer in our online tools, or chat with us from the Brella app. If you want to, you always have the option to talk to us on the phone. You’ll have a dedicated Concierge who knows you and your employer and lives in your neck of the woods.

By simplifying our plan’s rules, and automating much of the process, we’re able to free up our people to be available to both employers and members when you need us.


A concierge doesn’t just answer the question at hand. They listen for context to understand the question behind the question. They offer answers to questions you didn’t even know you should be asking. Our Concierge team is trained to listen holistically and go beyond initial request to get to the heart of the issue.


If a company’s phone lines are maxed because their plans are complicated and their website is broken, the average customer service rep’s empathy goes out the window. Brella covers a wide range of conditions and our technology does the hard work behind the scenes, so we’re able to empower our team to value and practice empathy.

We’re hiring empathetic people in your area who care about our employers and members, especially when they’re in the middle of an unexpected health issue. We’re able to encourage and reward empathy because we used technology and plan design to put ourselves in a position to focus on the members who really need our help.


Your Brella Concierge will remember your name and call you back. If they don’t know the answer, they’ll make it their mission to find out for you. They’ll leverage the expertise of the technology and insurance experts on our team and get back to you, explaining the complicated stuff in terms that are easy to understand.

You’ll have the option to speak to any Concierge in our network if you just need a quick answer when your dedicated Concierge isn’t available. However, for issues that require research and follow up, your dedicated Concierge is on your side and will work with you until you have the information you need.


You’re not an insurance expert and you shouldn’t have to be! Our Concierge team is fluent in insurance but they know how to translate complicated concepts so they’re easier to understand. Plus our simplified plan design just doesn’t have some of the “gotchas” that make life complicated for customer service reps at other insurance companies.

Like all insurance products, your Brella policy does have limitations, but no matter the outcome of your inquiry, we commit to say yes to being accessible, listening well, offering empathy, taking ownership, and communicating clearly.

What is Supplemental Insurance?

It’s no secret that healthcare costs continue to soar. And even with good health insurance, illnesses and injuries can impact your wallet in a major way. Between higher health insurance deductibles, copays, and out of pocket maximums, you can expect to be on the hook for a number of healthcare-related costs that will really add up.

Since traditional health insurance plans don’t cover everything in full when you’re sick or injured, insurance companies have ramped up their sales of other products that aim to offset the cost of medical care. These types of plans are known as supplemental health insurance plans.

Now, you may be wondering: What is supplemental health insurance?

How does supplemental health insurance work?

Supplemental health insurance plans help offset the cost of out-of-pocket medical expenses that aren’t paid in full by your health insurance plan — which is why you may need supplemental health insurance. These expenses can include copays, coinsurance, or the costs you’re responsible for before reaching your deductible. They can also be basic expenses like transportation or childcare costs associated with recovery.

There are typically three types of supplemental health insurance:

  1. Accident Insurance may pay a lump-sum benefit if you are injured in a covered accident. Payouts vary based on the type of injury you suffer, the treatment you need, and the coverage you purchased.
  2. Critical Illness Insurance may pay a lump-sum benefit if you are diagnosed with a serious illness. Payouts vary based on the diagnosis and the coverage you purchased. Most plans only include coverage for a limited number of specific illnesses.
  3. Hospital Indemnity Insurance may pay a lump-sum benefit if an illness or injury results in hospital admission, emergency room treatment, and daily hospital confinement. Payouts vary based on a number of factors including treatment and the coverage you purchased.

In order to receive a payment through one of these supplemental health insurance plans, you must purchase coverage for each one separately and then meet each of the policy’s requirements. Unless you have coverage under all three, your protection is limited. And even if you have all three, policy restrictions will likely leave you with gaps in coverage. This means that you—the consumer—are often left disappointed that the insurance you pay for doesn’t quite cover what you thought.

Where traditional supplemental health insurance plans get it wrong

Supplemental health insurance plans are in need of a major update. They were created decades ago when the healthcare landscape was very different. Plan deductibles and treatment costs were lower and most health insurance plans covered more. And they were created with a great deal of complexity — three separate products all with different benefit triggers and policy requirements.

This complexity also means a frustrating and cumbersome claims process. Claims are often denied due to the fine print and unclear policy provisions. And if you’re looking for additional support, you can expect long hold times paired with frustrating customer service. With so many hoops to jump through, supplemental insurance can be more stressful than helpful in times of need. Where’s the benefit in that?

Meet the modern supplemental health insurance plan, Brella.

We’ve updated the old model of supplemental health insurance and simplified the experience from start to finish. Brella is a simple, comprehensive benefit that sends you fast cash when you are sick or injured. Brella covers a much larger list of conditions than the typical old-fashioned supplemental health insurance plans. And we’re built for speed! No more paper forms, faxes, and multi-step claim processes. Brella sends you the cash you need quickly through our mobile app.

So how does Brella work?

Brella is simple. We built one plan that covers 13,000+ conditions that would require urgent medical care. Brella pays based on your diagnosis, and those payouts are based on the severity of your condition. We think about conditions in three categories:

  1. Moderate conditions that require a short visit to the ER or urgent care and typically don’t require surgery can receive up to $800 from Brella.
  2. Severe conditions that often require surgery or more intensive treatment can receive up to $3,000 from Brella.
  3. Catastrophic conditions that are life-threatening and require immediate medical intervention and longer recovery can receive up to $10,000 from Brella.

The more serious the condition, the more we pay out. It’s that simple. Plus, you have the option to customize your payouts to suit your family’s needs.

A member experience that’s easy

With our mobile app you’re always connected to Brella. Our technology is built around photos, not faxes. Send us a photo of your discharge papers or related documents on your way out of the ER to kickstart your claim process. We’ll take it from there and, once approved, send your cash in hours. Use your Brella mobile app to stay up to speed on what’s covered, check your claim status, interact with real humans, and much more.

Why We Built Brella

Over the past 25 years, rising costs and reduced coverage have eroded employee health benefits. Today, all it takes is one unexpected medical event to drain a family’s bank account. With 2 in 5 working age adults visiting the emergency room in a normal year, it’s no surprise that a recent study found 44% of respondents were struggling to pay medical bills. Meanwhile, employers are searching for affordable, comprehensive coverage for their teams.

We believe that health hardship shouldn’t lead to financial hardship. That’s why we built Brella—a simple, comprehensive supplemental benefit that pays fast cash when you’re sick or injured.

We chose the name Brella because our plan covers over 13,000 conditions, more than any other supplemental plan on the market. We’re proud to stake our name on the broad range of coverage we’ll provide to millions of American families.

A modern supplemental benefit

When supplemental insurance first appeared in the 1980’s, separate products were created for accidents, critical illnesses, hospitalizations, and cancer treatment. Those options still exist today—four decades later. Who can say if you’ll face an accidental injury or get diagnosed with cancer next year? We can’t tell the future, and employees shouldn’t have to guess when choosing their benefits.

Rather than stringing together narrow plans with complicated rules and slow payouts, we envisioned a simple, tech-enabled benefit that provides wide-ranging, personalized coverage and pays cash quickly when people need it most.

Brella covers over 13,000 conditions—that’s more than any supplemental plan on the market. If a member is diagnosed with a covered moderate, severe, or catastrophic health issue, we put cash in their pocket quickly for whatever they need. Members can use Brella payouts for medical bills or everyday expenses like childcare, groceries, or transportation until they’re back on their feet.

Plus, Brella is flexible and affordable. Employees can choose from a range of payouts to build the level of protection that best fits their needs. Brella+ provides the option of additional coverage for chronic conditions and mental health. With no pre-existing condition exclusions and customizable benefits, Brella truly works for everyone.

Delivering fast cash when it counts

We built Brella from the ground up to modernize everything about the experience, from filing a claim to getting paid.

If you’re diagnosed with a health issue, open the Brella app and submit a claim in minutes. All we need are photos of items that can be easily collected while at the hospital or urgent care—for example, your x-rays, lab reports, discharge papers, prescription bottle, or a medical bill. We use these to confirm your diagnosis and process your claim quickly—no need to wait for paperwork to show up in the mail.

Our moderate, severe, and catastrophic tiers pay out for all the most common diagnoses, and we make it easy to check what Brella covers and how much it pays. And Brella pays within hours, not weeks, through Venmo, Paypal, or straight to your bank account. Plus, you’ll have the support of a dedicated concierge team for any questions that come up.

In short, we got rid of the complexity and built a better benefit that covers more and delivers fast cash when it counts.

Why Us?

We are a team of insurance and tech industry veterans with the experience and the imagination to build something better from the ground up.

CEO and Founder Veer Gidwaney co-founded and was the CEO of Maxwell Health, which was acquired by Sun Life in 2018. Amanda Turcotte, former Chief Actuary and Head of Underwriting at AXA US, is our Chief Insurance Officer. Our Chief Revenue Officer is Mike Zarrillo, the former VP of Large Market Distribution at Guardian Life Insurance Company. Meet the rest of the team here.

We’re backed by world-class partner RGAX. And we’re proud to partner with some of the world’s leading insurance and technology investors, including Two Sigma VenturesFounder Collective, and SymphonyAI.

Why Now?

Too many families are struggling with medical debt. Brella exists to change that with a modern supplemental benefit that helps people when they need it most.

Companies that care for their employees and strive to retain top talent want to offer benefits that provide more wide-ranging coverage for their teams and their families. Brella helps them do that.

It’s time we face the fact that millions of Americans face financial hardship because of a serious health issue. They deserve better and that’s why we built Brella.