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That time is upon us again. Chinese New Year is a largely enjoyable affair, for anyone under the age of 16. But as we mature, the joy of Ang Baos and unfettered celebration give way to a host of other irritations that no other major holiday can match.

For some of us, it can be a living hell of disastrous proportions.

There is the problem of getting around the island – doubly difficult if you do not own a car. Then there is a weird tradition of banking in money at certain timings (could I deposit into a Cash Deposit Machine instead?).

Things costs more, and yet you have do not have a say in the matter. Then there are the incessant CNY songs which blare out of every corner. Oh, the trumpets and cymbals and endless gong xi gong xi gong xi ni~~

A reasonable conclusion to draw: I am not fun to have at parties. I do look forward to CNY, but there are just so many other headaches that neutralize the joy during this period.

But, I still have my trusty sense of imagination, and here’s 3 Insurance policies that I would gladly buy to protect me during these 15 days of personified red cheer. If we petition hard enough, I’m sure we could persuade a forward thinking insurer to make these a reality.

Policy 1: The Nosy Relative Respite

Do you really want to walk down this lane without protection?

The dreaded scenario:

You know the questions are coming, and they will hit you. Hard and fast. Behind every mandarin orange plant, lurks an aunty or uncle just waiting to ambush you with questions. About your love and personal life, regardless of what stage you are at.

Boy ah, still not no girlfriend?
Girl ah, what happen to the guy from last year? Break up liao?
Seng, this year bring a different girl ah?? (This is my wife!)
Married already, why still no children ah? Something wrong with your private parts?
Wah, got a baby girl already. Why not try for a boy also? Try harder leh.
Eh, I hear this year the PSLE veri hard. You think your kid will fail or not?

Ad Nauseum.

Buy the policy and reap the benefits:

Provides legal and financial relief against people that share your DNA, but insist on prying into affairs that should be yours and yours alone.

How it works:

It is a contract for specific non-disclosure about your personal and life life between you and the insurer. So you now have a legitimate reason to deflect these inane questions. The only acceptable response will then be abbreviated as S.I.C.S (Sorry I cannot say)

Sorry auntie, I signed an NDA with my insurer. We are working on a very important project together for this period. (To keep your nose out of my business!) I cannot reveal anything more. If you continue to probe, they will send you a lawyer letter. SICS, hor.

Extra style points will be given to you if you frame the policy and walk around with it around your neck.

Policy 2: The AngBao Avenger

Their smiles are built upon the twisted wreck that once used to be your wallet

The dreaded scenario:

You’re a newly wed. Prepare to bleed money out of every orifice you have. All of a sudden, you will be swarmed with hordes of children, and you will marvel/despair at the reproductive might of your relative and friends.

However many 8 dollar Ang Baos you think is sufficient, they will run out. True pain in life is having only the 28 dollar high value Ang Baos to give to your snot faced cousin, twice removed. Whose mum will pocket the proceeds in an instant.

(Hot tip: You may think that reading an Ang Bao guide will save you. Ha! My advice is to half their suggested value. Twice. Else your trip to San Francisco will be replaced by one to Sentosa.)

Buy the policy and reap the benefits:

Should you find yourself paying out an inordinate amount of red packet money because of pro-life relatives, the policy will rebate your losses should they cross a specific amount.

How it works:

Agree upon the minimum amount of Ang Bao money you are prepared to ‘give’, as well as the number of relatives you have. A background check will be done on their fertility and a premium will be presented. Anything more that you pay, can be claimed on the policy. It won’t come cheap, but then again, neither are children.

Even if they aren’t yours.

Policy 3: The Banlat Blocker

Who knew that some printed pieces of sturdy paper could cause so much misery?

The dreaded scenario:

That obligatory Black Jack game among friends and relatives can be a soul crushing experience, especially since every household seems to have its own rules. Your relatives will be badgering you to join the game, eager to win back their Ang Bao losses – at your expense.

(It nearly happened to me, but I was insistent on not joining. Never a gambling man! I never liked my relatives much anyway)

While it is your turn to be the banker, Uncle Soon pushes all in and gets a triple 7. Your face turns white and you don’t remember the trip to the hospital.

Buy the policy and reap the benefits:

Insurers love par(ticipating) plans, and this is one option for them to partake in your gains and losses during this period. For a predetermined set amount, the policy will then ensure that all gains and losses of Banlat will be shared between you and the insurer. Pay extra if you wish to keep the gains all to yourself.

How it works:

There will be financial underwriting involved and much administrative pre-work to be done. Submit your full list of gambling crazed relatives and the insurer will do a background check on them. If none of them are on the No Entry list of MBS, then your policy will likely be incepted. Good luck!

Bonus: The Optional Bak Kwa Rider

The Dreaded Scenario:

All the Bak Kwa and Pineapple tarts don’t just go away on their own. As Jack Lalanne used to say, a  minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.

You can see exactly where he didn’t eat that bak kwa

You’ve kept track of all the new clothes that you buy during CNY, and they’ve been increasing in size over the years. And you know exactly why.

Buy the rider and reap the benefits:

Add on this rider to any of the main plans listed above, and the insurer will send you off to your preferred weight loss establishment till you achieve your pre-CNY, trim self. There will be lite/premier options, depending on your tolerance level. Guys who select the lite version of this rider will pay far less in premiums, but will be sent to BMT for weight loss.

Your call.

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

In case it isn’t immediately clear, this entire article is one of satire. Some people that cannot recognize satire even if it bit them on the ankle, so this disclaimer is meant for those special snowflakes. These policies are NOT for actual sale, and frankly, nothing can protect you against your kaypoh aunty.

If you are indulging in a spot of Black Jack with your relatives and friends, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Here’s wishing all our readers and users a happy, healthy, and prosperous Chinese New Year.


The post 3 Policies you WISH you had for this Chinese New Year [One can only dream] appeared first on Singapore's Life Insurance Blog: Expert and Unbiased Views.

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The prospect of healthcare insurance might seem daunting, especially with the current political tensions surrounding the industry, but it’s no less vital that you get it. Around 11.3% of the US adult population didn’t have healthcare in the first quarter of 2017, which is concerning considering the various health issues people face today, from obesity to diseases like cancer.

What’s more unsettling, though, is that many of these conditions include sleep deprivation as a risk factor. Approximately 45% of the world’s population is sleep-deprived, and the problems it causes may affect both your wellbeing and your savings. It can potentially leave you in need of expensive medications or long-term treatments, which is why you need to be prepared.

To understand the issue further, here are 5 key reasons people suffering from sleep deprivation need health insurance.

Major Accidents

One of the main objectives of health insurance is to provide financial coverage in case of a major accident. Year on year, there a lot of accidents caused by people who are sleep-deprived; from car crashes to the mishandling of hazardous equipment, and many of them resulted in injuries and/or hospitalization. Health insurance can provide financial security in these circumstances.

Risk of illnesses and diseases

Medical writer Sarah Wilson emphasized that lack of sleep may lead to serious illnesses like heart disease and strokes. Treatments and therapy can be expensive, and an insurance plan can go a long way in reducing out-of-pocket expenses.

Hereditary conditions

One of the best things about health insurance is that it can cover your family as well, depending on your plan. This will be especially helpful if there are certain conditions exacerbated by sleep deprivation that may be inherited by your children. These include obesity and diabetes because lack of sleep tends to make you eat more.

Mental well-being

In a lot of cases, mental conditions are the byproduct of stress, which is made worse by sleep deprivation. In fact, Leesa highlighted an American Psychology Association study showing that 21% of adults feel more stressed when they don’t get sufficient sleep. In case you’re going to need medical support, a health insurance plan that covers mental health problems can reduce heavy medical bills.

Lessens brain damage

Quality sleep actually prevents your brain from suffering further damage as you get older. If you have an existing condition, Italian researcher Michele Bellesi relayed that lack of sleep causes certain brain cells called ‘astrocytes’ to destroy parts of the brain’s synapses, which then breaks down the connections to various parts of the body. Naturally, treatments for conditions worsened by this process can be more expensive, and everything gets even costlier if you’re not insured.

Your sleeping habits and health insurance may seem worlds apart, but in reality, they’re more closely associated. Sleeping more makes you healthier overall while your insurance grants you financial security against any health issue you might encounter. Although prevention is better than cure; at the end of the day, being prepared for every scenario is still the best course of action.

This is a Guest post

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

The post 5 Key Reasons People Suffering from Sleep Deprivation Need Health Insurance appeared first on Singapore's Life Insurance Blog: Expert and Unbiased Views.

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In the previous article here, Mark is a young father who found out he was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer just 3 days after his baby was born.

Because he took a very active hand in purchasing and handling his own insurance policies, even with the claims, he wanted to share some pointers that could make a world of difference to you. Just like it did for him.

Here is what he has to say.

Insurance might be confusing. But worth your time

I long had an interest in insurance, especially finding out what is worth to buy, and what isn’t. Unfortunately, there is often conflicting or non-existent information out there, and I wasn’t always sure that what I bought would be useful. After getting cancer and claiming for a ton of bills, I’m pretty confident I know better now. (Hopefully this is not the route of learning that you will take as well)

Always better to learn from others’ experiences

I understand that getting cancer in my early thirties is pretty unique, and most people will not experience that. However, the intent of this article is to share my own experience from my cancer journey, from an insurance and value perspective, and hope others can find it useful.

Here, I cover my thoughts on the Medishield- Integrated Plans (IPs)

Get the best plan that you can afford – it will be worth it

It has been covered before on why Medishield Life isn’t sufficient.

>> Clearly Surely’s take on why Medishield Life alone isn’t sufficient <<

Even though having any IP is preferable to none at all, you should not go crazy when deciding to upgrade your cover. Your IP is meant to give you extra cover, not to cause you financial hardship.

Personally, I would say that as much as you can afford it, get a private plan. Having been through both public and private hospitals, I would say the differences can be quite significant.

The benefits of a private IP are beyond just getting a nicer bed in a nicer hospital. It expands your options for treatment drastically. This means you can get treatment from all the best doctors in Singapore, not just those in the public hospitals. This is especially crucial if you get hit by a rare disease (I’m speaking from experience here).  Seeing a doctor is also much faster.

For me, I was able to get a scan which discovered the tumour and a specialist in the space of a few hours. I could walk across the road to my private hospital to get radiotherapy treatment which lasted for 6 weeks. The queue to wait was practically non-existent compared to the public hospitals. I really appreciated this, given the severe fatigue and weakness that treatment caused.

A long post-hospitalisation outpatient coverage period is useful beyond imagination. As a cancer patient, in addition to regular doctor check-ups, I will have to do scans up to 4 times a year for the foreseeable future. Each of this is about $2,000. If this is no longer within three months from my hospitalisation date, I will need to pay for this out of my own pocket. I imagine that others, such as people who have suffered a stroke or heart attack, have similar long-term needs and medications.

>> Read about our guide to Integrated Shield Plans here<<

Get the riders as well

Riders on IPs generally do two things:

(1) Limit the amount you pay and
(2) Pay you cash for every day spent in the hospital.

Get these.

My hospital bills were about $100,000. I estimate that without the payment cap, I would have paid $3,500 (deductible) + (10% of remaining amount) = $13,150. In the end, I paid about $3,000, a much more affordable amount. The $10,000 I saved was worth about 50 years of the rider’s premiums.

Another useful rider is the one that pays you a cash benefit for each day you are warded (called daily hospital cash), typically $100 – $200 a day.

The great advantage of this rider as compared with other policies such as critical illness or disability income is that the claim is fast and easy. You don’t need to fill out long forms or get a doctor’s statement (takes 4-6 weeks). This claim is automatic, and easily verifiable with the discharge summary. Given that this can be used for both accidents and illnesses, and long hospital stays are not uncommon, this is something I would recommend most people to have. It should be tied to your IP and not your critical illness plans, as these plans end once you have contacted a critical illness. Besides, it feels nice to know that you are earning money even while on the hospital bed and can take your time to recover.

Understand your limitations on your IP

It always pays to do your homework

Read your policy terms and conditions carefully.

Some people get upset or surprised when they learn that not all their medical bills are covered, but it is all there in black and white. Don’t rely on your agent to tell you, because if they are wrong, you are liable for the bills, not your agent.

For example, outpatient charges aren’t part of your IP, unless it is within a set period from your hospitalization, typically 100 days. Outpatient charges can be very expensive, typically ranging from $100 – $200 a visit if you are not subsidized. Scans and medicine would also be much higher if they are not subsidized. This is why many people opt to downgrade to a “B” ward and below, despite being qualified for a higher class, because they will continue to get subsided outpatient visits and medicine.

Other common medical charges not usually covered under IPs are nursing home stays, home nursing, physiotherapy, and overseas treatments.

Buy your IP and other policies as soon as you can

Time isn’t always on your side

While I feel this is very “duh”, get your cover as early as possible. I bought one for my kid immediately after she was born. Illnesses can sneak up on you without warning. Once you get common conditions like hypertension and diabetes, you can wave goodbye to good coverage and say hello to higher prices and exclusions, or no coverage at all.

A large emergency cash stash is vital, even with an IP. A lot of my bills weren’t covered by a letter of guarantee and I had to pay first and be reimbursed later.  This is especially true for private hospital bills, which tend to be much larger than those from the public hospitals. You also have to consider that you might be out of work for a long period of time. So besides the IP, you do need other policies such as critical illness and perhaps disability income.

The most important mindset to adopt

To end, I would encourage people to take a mindset that insurance is an expense.

This means that that it is a necessary and unavoidable part of life. If you don’t get an illness and claim insurance for your entire life, don’t look back and think “what a waste of money”.

Thank your lucky stars for your good health.

But the future is uncertain, and no one can guarantee your good health forever. When and if that happens, I do hope that you would have taken the steps needed to protect yourself and your family.

I would like to thank the Clearly Surely Team for featuring my story, and letting me express my thoughts on their platform.

From Clearly Surely

Dear Mark, your courage and conviction to share is an inspiration to us all. Thank you for sharing and we wish you the best.

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

The post I am a Stage 3 Cancer Survivor with a newborn. My story isn’t important, but my experience could be invaluable to you [Part 2 of 2] appeared first on Singapore's Life Insurance Blog: Expert and Unbiased Views.

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Mark reached out to us with a most extraordinary tale – both sobering and quietly defiant at the same time.

In lieu of an introduction, there were two simple statements.

I recently was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, and went through surgery and radiotherapy. Would it be possible for me to share my insights on insurance plans, based on my experience?

It was incredibly calm for a person who just faced a brush with death. And even more incredibly, he wanted the focus to be how to help others through his personal experience, as opposed to just narrating yet another “sob story”.

And so I met him. He stood there tall and strapping, with a firm handshake. I would have pegged him for a fitness instructor had I met him in a gym.

Why would a person with such a traumatizing experience be willing to reach out and have his story told?  Mark made it abundantly clear that his journey wasn’t unique – but he had the knowledge and experience of actually buying and claiming on his own insurance policies.

I want to share about that – so others can benefit as well.

(He isn’t from the Insurance industry or has any financial interest in contributing towards the article)

And so over coffee, I spent the better half of the afternoon getting to understand his journey, and also to uncover his unique insights about insurance. It made all the difference in his case.

The first article covers his story and how cancer has the ability to sneak up on anyone. The second article presents his own take on how to maximize your protection when it comes to Integrated Shield Plans.

It is a humbling experience to say the least – even for industry practitioners such as myself. Here is his tale.

Fatherhood was the first thing on my mind. Cancer was the last.

It is probably the oldest cliche in the book. Things happen unexpectedly, that is. Except that no one really believes that it applies to ourselves.

I belonged to that camp, 6 months ago. Amazing how everything can turn topsy-turvey in half a year.

Sarah was due anytime, and I was already happily preparing for fatherhood. There were the youtube videos, the parenting classes, and even peer advice. (“Prepare to give up sleep for the first couple of years!”)

Then came a dull ache on my left thigh. I chalked it up to some residual effect due to my renewed efforts at exercise. It didn’t abate after a few days, and I decided to check myself in for a scan.

There, at the corner of the image, where my tailbone was barely visible, was a suspicious mass. It was identified to be a tumor and I had to undergo a biopsy (a close examination of tissue cells) to determine the nature of the tumour.

3 days after my child came into the world, the biopsy results came back.

It was cancer, stage 3.

Two Life changing events within a week

Elation was replaced with shock. I was in my early thirties, had no family history, and in good health. Why me? Why now?

There was no time for reflection. While I would have loved to have been with my newborn child and wife during this precious time, it was important to remove the cancer as soon as possible.

I reluctantly scheduled my surgery the following week.

Surgery – and the aftermath

The surgery lasted about 10 hours, and went fairly smoothly.  Given the major operation (I was split open, from the stomach and all the way down to the base of the spine), I was placed in the ICU right after for close monitoring. Those were days full of pain and uncertainty.

I hated the numerous tubes stuck into me. The pain in my tailbone and various stiches was intense from the surgery. The worse was the explosion of pain each time I coughed from the phlegm build up. Taken together with the constant hustle and bustle of the ICU, it made sleep and rest difficult.  I wondered if I would ever get better.

Then they moved me to the High Dependency Unit. It was marginally better. Marginally.

Five other seriously ill people were in the same room, requiring constant care. My ward mates brought their own distractions as well, mainly moans of pain, random shouting, and hushed conversations with their families and doctors.

Finally, I was stable enough to be transferred to my own ward. This was a huge relief, as it was much quieter and I could get better rest.  I could also finally eat on my own and drink water.. even chicken porridge never tasted so good.

Radiotherapy – with crossed fingers

All in, my ordeal in the hospital lasted for close to 3 weeks, then I was finally well enough to be discharged. Though I was still pretty weak and needed an extra month of home care by a nurse, it was great just to be back home again.

3 months to the day from my initial diagnosis, I was slated to begin my next phase of treatment: 6 weeks of radiotherapy.

I walked across the road every day to be zapped for about 20 minutes, and then spent the rest of the day resting in bed. Breaks were on Saturdays and Sundays. The treatment made me sore, inflamed, and fatigued.

(Editor: Chemotherapy was not thought to be conventionally effective for the cancer cell in Mark’s case. Radiotherapy is far less taxing all things considered, but still exacts a toll on the body)

It would have been a very different journey, without Insurance

All in, the total cost of treatment was over 100K SGD.

I was lucky in some sense, because I had insurance. I had near full coverage (Editor: He spends over $6k a year in premiums!), received top treatment very quickly, and didn’t have to worry about financial issues. This put my mind at ease, helping me to recover.

A nurse told me of a guy a few years younger than me, who was found to have stage 4 colorectal cancer. He had no prior symptoms, and just found blood in his stools 2 weeks before. That young man didn’t have insurance, and was sobbing in the room, facing a mountain of bills and no good options.

If I hadn’t paid attention to insurance planning, I would have been in the same situation.

Protect Yourself and Your Family. It is your Duty

Even after treatment, you are not really considered to be free from cancer. You have to undergo regular scans to check if it has returned or spread through the body. I would have to live with the fear of cancer returning for the rest of my life.

Despite this, I am grateful for what I have. I have a supportive employer, good friends, and a loving family. I didn’t have to burden others and I could put food on the table for my family and child, which I felt was my responsibility as a father.

I am immensely thankful that I had good coverage and I didn’t have to worry about anything besides my own health. I hope no one else has to go through what I went through, and protect themselves and their families from financial disaster. That’s why I have shared my story. I can safely say that insurance helped save my life.

I am Mark, and here is my experience. Thank you for reading – and hope that you will take an active hand in your policies as I have.

I share my thoughts on how to get the most out of your Integrated Shield Plans in the next article.

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

The post I am a Stage 3 Cancer Survivor with a newborn. My story isn’t important, but my experience could be invaluable to you [Part 1 of 2] appeared first on Singapore's Life Insurance Blog: Expert and Unbiased Views.

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Who exactly is Cathy Newman?
If you are asking this, you have missed out the internet story of the month.
We recap this real quick for you.

Cathy Newman is a presenter on Channel 4 News who has recently interviewed Dr Jordan Peterson. The latter is a Canadian psychologist who has gained some fame through his fascinating YouTube lectures. In the now infamous interview, Cathy fired a series of provoking misandrous questions at Dr Peterson who kept his cool and answered them with a rarified dignity that is hardly seen these days. He also turned the table and left her gobsmacked towards the end of the video.

Enjoy the gotcha moment!


In the interview, Dr Peterson opined that disagreeable people tend to do well in the corporate working environment. He also suggested that Cathy was one as she was definitely willing to risk offending him in search of truth. It got us thinking.
Would Cathy Newman and other disagreeable people make a good insurance advisor?

Our answer is a resounding NO.

“So you are saying.”

The now notorious phrase by Cathy represents why she will make a horrible financial advisor.
She. Does. Not. Listen.

You probably have learnt this a million times from Prudential ads – Always Listening, always understanding. Although that invokes an image of a stalker in our twisted mind, the importance of listening cannot be understated when it comes to financial advisory.

Insurance may be cookie-cutter in some manner but how one utilizes the different products differs from person to person. You and your next door neighbour Brian may have the same amount of children, earn the similar amount of money, drive a Black Toyota Vios and even wear the same brand of boxers. However, your parents are dependent on you financially while Brian’s ones are rolling in gold coins.  Of course, you need a different insurance portfolio! A Cathy Newman- esque advisor does not consider these. She simply hears you talking and replies.

“So you are saying you want to buy the best insurance plan out there? Sure.”

Willing to risk your well-being for the pursuit of her happiness.

What Cathy sees in front of her is not an esteemed psychologist but an ideological male chauvinist that she has to tackle. She does not care about Dr Peterson and what he thinks but all she intends to do is to grill him so as to achieve her own objective.

Should Cathy or a disagreeable person become a financial advisor, all she does is to advance her own agenda. She is certainly going to put her own interest above yours and if that means selling you an unsuitable policy that earns more commission for her, so be it.

Having problems with your claim and looking for Cathy for assistance? She will avoid like how she handles the scam calls from the fake Chinese police – press the “reject” button.

Blame others for her mistake.

When Cathy misunderstood Dr Peterson’s stance on transgender name-calling and was corrected by Dr Peterson, she insinuated that he had changed his tune. It was her inability to listen to Dr Peterson in the first place but she would blame him for that with a fake allegation.

Can you imagine what will happen if you bought a policy from someone like Cathy? She will not do a proper fact-finding exercise with you, assume the answers on her own and make you sign on the dot. When anything goes awry, she will proclaim that she has dispensed the proper advice and it is you who has inadvertently lied.

Many have put their trust in advisors who are practically Cathys and have their claims rejected or reduced by the insurance companies because of false declarations. Some have happy endings but many do not.

Deflecting blame to you.

When  Dr Peterson refused to be stirred by Cathy’s accusation, Cathy changed the topic to lobsters. Even upon doing so, she had no idea what Dr Peterson was referring to and made another crazy allegation. She had obviously not prepared well for the topic.

When you have a question about your financial plans, your Cathy-like advisors do not answer them directly when they have no answer. They will ramble on with some technical jargons or some pointless fable so that you will forget about it all together. Instead of admitting that they do not have all the answers (nobody does), they will try to deflect and distract.

You definitely do not want an advisor who does not offer you clarity but instead confuse you. Being a layman, you are daunted by all the unfamiliar insurance terms that she is sprouting. You feel a little stupid not being able to comprehend what she is saying but in actual fact, it is her responsibility to make sure you understand.

Wrapping up.

Disagreeableness is not a trait that we welcome when picking an advisor.
We want an altruistic person who emphasises and who listens.
Someone who places our interest on an equal footing as their own.
However, we recognise that it is not easy to identify them.

Thankfully, it is easier to spot Cathy Newmans.
You should never allow someone who is brash, evasive and downright irresponsible to be your insurance advisor.
Be like Dr Peterson and say no when you have to.

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

All Cathy Newman Memes are originally posted on this awesome article on the Medium.

The post Why Cathy Newman would suck were she an insurance advisor appeared first on Singapore's Life Insurance Blog: Expert and Unbiased Views.

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Thought of the Day: Courage

For some strange reason, my mental word of the day is courage.

Without looking up the ole’ Oxford, the best definition I can give about courage is:

Being brave. Even when it is scary. Especially when it is scary.

We are sorely challenged to equate courage with the insurance industry. It is not known for doing (dramatically) new things. Challenging new frontiers. If the last 25 years is anything to go by, perhaps Insurers are known more for defending the status quo. Sticking to the tried and tested. Not making bold leaps when it comes to products.

Hardly the embodiment of courage.

It came as a pleasant surprise when AIA Singapore approached us to do a product review on their newest innovation, called AIA Pro Lifetime Protector.

In their own words:

It provides an all-rounded solution that no other can – early protection against pregnancy complications, birth defects, as well as developmental and learning disorders to finally satisfy the unmet needs of young families in Singapore.

Now that is a bold statement to be making.

An insurer, taking risks with coming up with a ground-breaking product?
Pouring money into research and running the actuarial numbers?
And finally, inviting a cranky and eccentric site to review it?

That takes a certain measure of courage (I actually prefer the more colloquial and snappy term, balls) – but we are more than happy to oblige. This is one rabbit hole we will gladly jump in, for a whole month of Sundays.

So, developing a whole new innovation, with market-firsts that have never seen before eh?

Just how does an insurer go about doing that?

It starts with doing your homework

That homework is called the AIA Parenthood and Protection Study. Conducted in 2017, over 600 married Singaporeans were surveyed to understand their top priorities and concerns.

So what exactly did they find?

Credits: AIA Singapore

Here is our own narrative:

Singaporeans are having children later in life. That delay is due to cost concerns and also wanting to develop their careers first.

But delays in childbirth also lead to more pregnancy complications – and more Singaporeans are turning to IVF for conception, which leads to its own set of extra risks.

And finally, there is more emphasis on the recognition and diagnosis of development/learning disorders in children – thus increasing the financial burden of parents.

What next?


Act on your convictions

Findings are just that – findings. Unless acted upon, they do not serve much of a purpose.

So AIA Singapore launched AIA Pro Lifetime Protector, an all-in-one investment-linked plan (ILP), alongside three distinctive riders, with market-first features specially introduced to satisfy the unmet needs of young families in Singapore. (as aforementioned in the study)

It is the three distinctive riders that caught our attention, and we explore them here.

Rider 1: AIA Child Critical Cover

What does it do?

Covers all three Developmental conditions: Autism, Dyslexia, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

This rider provides coverage for a child’s treatment across 25 child medical conditions until the age of 21. It can also be converted into a lifelong plan, providing the child guaranteed coverage through adulthood.

Why does it shine?

These are real problems highlighted in the study.

ADHD is the top mental health condition diagnosed amongst 6 to 19 year olds in Singapore and is believed to affect approximately 5% of children here.

An estimated 4% of children here are also believed to be dyslexic, with more than 3,000 diagnosed in 2016 alone. One in 150 children in Singapore has autism, a higher rate than the global average of 160.

Most importantly, treatments for ADHD and dyslexia are not covered by any other life insurers in Singapore right now.

(True story: I asked my mum if she was ever worried about me having ADHD or a learning disorder. She replied that there was nothing a firm hand and a sturdy slipper couldn’t cure. Glad that times are finally a-changin’)

The $3.50 cure to ADHD that was widely used in the 20th century. Thankfully its popularity has waned dramatically.

Edit: Credit to reader Edwina, who pointed out to us that overcoming ADHD is not about punishment. It requires much occupational therapy and also effort from all parties to overcome it. We are grateful for the information, and hope it helps to change the way we view this developmental delay.

Rider 2: AIA Baby Protector

What does it do?

It protects both mother and baby.

For the mother:

  • protects against 10 pregnancy complications and death
  • provides daily hospital care benefit due to pregnancy complications

For the baby:

  • covers against 23 congenital illnesses
  • provides daily hospital care benefit for incubation

Why does it shine?

It covers babies that are conceived by IVF, ICI, IUI and ICSI. These alphabet soup of letters represent the various types of assisted conception treatments available today.

This is huge because of the increased risks of complications that come with later childbirth and also with assisted conception methods (I know it only as IVF)

AIA was the first to insure IVF pregnancies, and this rider extends that cover to other methods as well. It is the only insurer that does not impose birth weight restriction for premature babies admitted into the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).

Most importantly: The premiums are all the same, regardless of type of pregnancy.

Rider 3: AIA Double Critical Cover

What does it do?

It provides early stage Critical Illness cover of up to $350,000, and provides multi-stage coverage of up to 200%. Claims can be made multiple times.

Why does it shine?

As far as we are aware, the maximum coverage given by other insurers for early stage CI is $250,000. This rider ups the ante to $350,000 – an increase of 40% in protection.

What would have made it better for me

Creating a new product with several new market-firsts is definitely not a walk in the park, but the insatiable Singaporean in me clamours for more.

All the shine of a thousand spotlights; All the cover that makes it alright – Will never be enough~~~

Being a true blue supporter of pure protection, I would very much like to see those riders made available in their Term and Whole Life Plans as well. We would then have greater choice when it comes down to how we would like to be covered.

Since these are only early days of the product launch, I could be overly picky here. Bo pian, that trait comes along with my pink IC.

Key Takeaway

We probably didn’t do justice to the countless man hours that went into the creation of this innovation. There must have been tonnes of benefits that we glossed over – or skipped outright – due to brevity.

What truly stands out for me this is: If you are a parent-to-be, then for the first time ever, you have an opportunity to address many of your concerns.

About your baby facing congenital problems
About your baby having learning or development issues
About experiencing pregnancy complications

Were I a parent-to-be, the full list of features/benefits would not be on my mind.

I want to be able to handle every contingency that pregnancy may bring.

With this new innovation, now everyone has that power.

Our Verdict: Nicely Done!

We applaud AIA for daring to break new ground, and do what no other insurer has done here before.

It takes a special kind of courage, and commitment, to produce innovations – consistently. It started with AIA Vitality (the first wellness program that rewards policy holders for taking charge of their health), then AIA Diabetes Care (the first policy that covers pre-diabetics, we covered it here), and now the AIA Pro Lifetime Protector with all its ground breaking riders.

You’ve set the bar high, and we look to you in the future to rewrite the stars.

We would like to thank AIA Singapore for inviting us to review the product, and being big-hearted enough to hear our suggestions. We wish you greater success in 2018 – and even more innovations to come.

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

The post The Real Life Company delivers a real stunner [AIA’s latest innovation] appeared first on Singapore's Life Insurance Blog: Expert and Unbiased Views.

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Recently, TODAYonline published an article about the state of healthcare insurance.
Like every Integrated Shield Plan (IP) customer, the author experienced a premium raise in the past year and decided that she should write about the unsustainable increase in healthcare insurance in the future.

Her conclusion?
More insurance is not good; the insurers and the consumers should do more.
It is time to press the panic button!

Her button is bigger than ours!

While parts of the article make sense, it does not explore the issue completely.
Although the healthcare insurance consists of the insurer and consumers only, the cause of premium hike involves more than these two parties.

The increase in IP premium is caused by medical cost inflation in the private hospitals.
And that is an irrefutable fact.
Private hospital bills had ballooned by 8.7% from 2013-2016 while public hospital ones had increased by 0.6% only.

Who are the parties responsible?
And should they be blamed for creating this insatiable hunger in the beast we call IP.
You are about to find out.

Insurance Companies

The most obvious tortfeasor.
Insurance companies force us to pay extra so they must be the culprit.

The article suggests since the insurers have created the IP riders that pay the entire hospital bill (inclusive of deductible & coinsurance) and induced the buffet mentality in the consumers, the insurers are to be blamed.
The author is forced to shift the blame to the consumers when she realises that the partial cover rider is available but is shunned by the public.

As a result, the insurance companies increase the premium for everyone which peeves every IP customers.
One insurer starts to price its rider based on claim experiences which we lauded due to the positive impact on the future of healthcare insurance.

Are insurance companies to be blamed?

Time to fire some shots!

Sure, they have sold full cover rider that encourages excessively medical spending but can you really blame them for that?
The partial cover rider tanked in the past despite having discounts.
History and human nature indicate that it will fail again (we will talk about in the next part).

There is practically not much more for insurance companies to do because
1) They are price-taker as the hospital sets the bill.
2) If the consumers do not respond to their offerings, what can the insurers do?

At the end of the day, insurance companies are essentially companies.
Companies exist to make a profit.
If they are to be responsible for raising the prices to safeguard their bottom-line, we are simply blaming them for being companies and not charities.

Blaming the ones who raise the prices is an easy route to take.
Given how tied their hands are, it is really unfair to blame the insurance companies.


The next natural target is the consumers

Consumers should not claim so much.
Consumers should take up partial hospital rider.
Consumers should be going for cheaper alternative instead of pricey private hospital

Instead of using the word “consumers”, let us use “we” instead.

We should start a #wetoo campaign in view of the victim-shaming.

We shun the partial cover rider because we insure ourselves properly.
We must have the best treatment available because we love us.
We also hate waiting for 4 months for an appointment because it may be the difference between life and death.

We cannot be blamed for the basic instinct that all of us have – to survive.
It is human nature to demand the best treatments in the shortest possible time.
After all, we just want our health back and to live another day.

If being human is a sin, go ahead and blame us for being one.

Private hospitals

First, the public hospital and by extension, the government must be praised for keeping the cost low over the years.
At 0.6%, they have done really well in light of the ageing population.

How about the private hospitals?
Their bill sizes have increased by 8.7% over the recorded period.
Surely they got to take responsibility for that right?

Unfortunately, that may not be clear.
Did the medical supplies increase in price?
Have the hospitals recommended no-value diagnostics like what the article implied?
Did staff cost escalated by the same percentage?

It will be great if our learned reader can tell us more about the cost of medical supplies.

We do not know whether the private hospitals have been raking in profits at the expense of its customers.
If that really has happened, should they be blamed entirely?

If we take a moralistic stance and chid them for maximising their profits, it is hypocritical not to blame ourselves.
After all, it is natural for us to look out for ourselves first and for companies to do the same.

The Government

This is a party that is absolved of any blame in the Todayonline article.
That makes us wonder if the article has been edited.
After all, the only mention is the only positive thing that MOF is going to do.

Yes, that is right.
The government has done absolutely nothing so far except to direct a Taskforce to study the issue.

Did we mention that this problem has lingered since 2012?
Even if we excuse the government of slow execution due to the complexity of the problem (we don’t), we cannot look past their role in allowing the private medical cost to be inflated in the first place.

MOH is going to implement medical fee guidelines this year.
But do you know that such a thing exist in the past?
Singapore Medical Association (SMA) had recommended a range of fees in the past but stopped publishing it in 2009
And you wouldn’t believe the reason why they ceased doing so.

Because the government outlawed it.
We shit you not.
This is the proof.

In the name of anti-competition, CCS has disallowed SMA to continue publishing its recommended fee structure.
If MOF is going to reintroduce the same, what does it tell us about the initial ruling?
And this is not the first time the government has taken its eyes off the healthcare industry.

Oh wait, they are the Police.

We have learnt our lessons in the previous hospital bed crunch.
We realize that only a private hospital IP plan allows us instant access to medical attention.
In a way, we stop trusting the public sector’s ability to provide the medical service that we crave.

The distrust in government hospitals to provide timely service, coupled with the free hand given to the private ones to set its own price, cumulated to our precarious situation today.

The Difference-Maker should the one responsible.

One role of the government is to look out for the interest of the public when the free market fails to.
For example, a covered walkway is very much desired by the population but no single person or company is going to do so because it makes no sense at all on an individual or commercial basis.

In the healthcare industry, this is exactly what is happening.
The consumers have little incentive to resort to lesser medical treatment.
Insurance companies and private hospitals can set the prices as much as the market (and government) allows them to.

The only party that can effectively make a difference is none other than the government regulator.
They cannot eliminate medical inflation due to our ageing population but they can definitely manage the rate of increase.

That is why we pick the regulator as the main culprit for the premium hike.
The one party who has the incentive and ability to do something has not been proactive about it.

And we are all paying the price for their oversight!

Wrapping up

We are not finger-pointing at the government because it is a populist thing to do so.
In fact, we love the fact that government hospital cost is kept low over the years.
We also applaud the government’s effort to increase hospital beds in the recent years to address the shortage issue.

Likewise, when it comes to private medical inflation, the government can not be a mere bystander.

Always remember this.

The government can restore faith by managing the medical cost in the private sector and improving turnaround time in the public hospital.
The insurers and private hospitals are already working together to reduce financial stress on the claim.
We can do our little part by going to the public hospital when the situation allows us to.while not demanding for the 5th diagnostic tests & 7th second-opinions.

We believe premium will continue to increase in the future but it can be managed at a reasonable rate.
That is if all parties work together hand in hand.
For that to happen, the one that can make the most difference must take the lead.

The ball is in your park, Mr Gan!

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

We believe that we have a part to play too in containing healthcare insurance premium.
Stay tuned as we are working something out.

The post IP premiums are spiralling out of control – Who is to blame? appeared first on Singapore's Life Insurance Blog: Expert and Unbiased Views.

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After spending over a decade across the banking and insurance industry, and running an insurance education site for close to 3 years, there is one stark realization that I have come to.

That is, there is always something out there for me to learn. Be it stories or concepts, perspectives or terminology, it does seem that the more I research, the more there is to discover.

So in this sense Insurance seems to be like a hobbit. To paraphrase Tolkien:

You can learn all about there is to know about it (them) in a month, but after a hundred years, it (they) can still surprise you at a pinch.

My surprise was certainly complete when I came across the concept of Preliminary Underwriting, which set me up for yet another learning adventure. This reminds me of another Tolkien oldie:

You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to

I am grateful to have the assistance of Mr Raymond Tan, from IPP Financial Advisers, who served as a subject matter expert for this article.

Once you are ready, close the door behind you and let us be swept away into a new unknown.

What is Underwriting?

Before accepting the responsibility of insuring you, companies have to undergo a series of standard – and sometimes stringent – checks to determine if you are suitable to be accepted as a policyholder.

This is done with the aim to weed out people who are overly likely to claim from the policies, hence placing an additional burden on the rest of the policy holders.

A fantastic analogy would be the girl you are about to marry. Your parents might have to spend a significant portion of their lives with her as well, so they screen her for character defects. Before finally giving their nod of approval. (Some parents are more stringent than others, heh)

Underwriting, visualized

That my friend, is real life underwriting.

Then what is Preliminary Underwriting?

There could be a bit of confusion here with the word: Preliminary. Since underwriting is done before every policy issuance, then why the need add an extra word when the idea of “Preliminary” is already implied?

It turns out a better substitute would be: TA Underwriting. (TA, of course, is the highly technical term called Test Water)

Preliminary Underwriting (or TA Underwriting, in our parlance) is a process of enabling you to find out what are the best offerings (price or coverage) from a particular insurer – given that you have a current health condition, or even come from a family with a chequered medical history.

Do note that not every insurance company offers this service.

What are the benefits of Preliminary Underwriting?

Just the one.

Your identity will be masked at all times. Insurers will not know who you are, except that you are a person with some pre-existing conditions and they will decide what terms to offer you, given these conditions. Anonymity also implies no obligations from both parties.

Behind this mask is an idea. I just want to have an idea how much my insurance will cost me

This masking of identity is powerful because records of your application will not be kept, nor can they be held against you in the future. (Have you ever been declined acceptance from any Life Insurer? No.)

You will have a clear idea of what to expect from the given insurer if you apply formally for a policy, without giving up your identity.

It should be clear now why we think it should be called TA Underwriting instead.

Who should use Preliminary Underwriting?

People who have:

  • Pre – existing medical conditions
  • Abnormally high or low BMI (Body mass index)
  • A family history of serious medical problems
Which are the insurers that provide Preliminary Underwriting?

As far as we know, Tokio Marine, NTUC Income, AIA and Manulife have this feature available. This may change in the near future.

Here’s how a sample form looks like:

Why have you not heard of it?

Its troublesome.

It increases the workload of a adviser but does not come with a promise of a purchase. This is the reason why not all insurers offer it, as highlighted earlier.

It is far easier to skip the whole process altogether and be offered products that do not need underwriting. These products provide very little cover, if any, which defeats the purpose of going to an insurer.

How has it has benefited existing clients?

From Raymond:

Some of my clients who have very high BMI or low BMI. The insurers might load (charge extra) or decline their applications. After knowing outcome of the preliminary underwriting, some of them decide to reduce/increase their weight. After 6 months ~ 1 year, when they achieve a certain borderline/ideal BMI, they would send in their formal application. The applications were approved as standard cases.

 I have a client who had very early stage breast cancer, who went through the PUW (Preliminary Underwriting). The outcome was exclusion of both breasts with some loading of premium. Client made an informed decision to take on the formal application after knowing the outcome.

 Another client’s (whose parents had cancer) went through PUW, some insurers decided to load him while another insurer’s outcome was declared standard. Client went ahead and applied to that particular insurer.

In other words, it does pay to mystery shop. Especially when its free.

About Raymond, our subject matter expert

Raymond is more of a trusted friend than a mere adviser, a fact that many of his clients will attest to. He specializes in risk management, and is a consummate professional in creating both your pay cheque and play cheque for retirement. He has been with IPP Financial Advisers for the last 13 years, and created more legacies for his clients than he cares to admit.

His specific advice regarding Preliminary Underwriting:

Speak to any independent financial adviser who is willing to assist you in doing PUW, this process is time consuming and not everyone might be willing to do it. I recommend it to all my clients who are patient and willing to wait, if they have pre-existing conditions or have family history suffering from certain conditions.


Mobile: 9826 6007

Email: Raymondtanbk@ippfa.com

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

PS. Raymond,we love the profile pic. Looking. Like. A. Bawse.

The post Preliminary Underwriting – The Insurance Hack you wish you knew appeared first on Singapore's Life Insurance Blog: Expert and Unbiased Views.

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Apparently it pays to be an Influencer these days. I think the old term for that was “blogger”, but then Influencer has a more self important ring to it. (“Yo, look at me! I write about stuff, and I influence others. Don’t play play!”)

We never considered ourselves any of those. Just a bunch of folks who write about Insurance at large, and diligently so. Every Thursday and Sunday, to be exact. After 2 years of that, I suppose people do pick up on it, and reach out every now and then.

AKA Asia was one of the communications agency that write to us on a regular basis, and we were pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation to head down to cover an app launch by Manulife.

So yeah, we got an inside look at the unveiling of an app that took the better part of a year to develop and implement, backstage passes to interview key Manulife staff, and also our very own lanyard that was labelled “Media”. (Food and goodie bags too, in case you are wondering)

Media. Who? Us?

We just write about what we think is right. So while we donned the Media lanyard, we kept our writers hats on. To better understand the perspective of an insurance writer, read on.

Introducing Manulife MOVE – What in the world is it?

In their own words:

Manulife MOVE is a customer loyalty programme that rewards customers with premium cashback for being active and staying healthy.

In our own words:

A chance for policy holders to earn cashback, by maintaining an active lifestyle.

Of course just these short sentences do not do justice to the planning, the development, and implementation of (what I think to be) a high quality app. Maybe it would be better if I took you through the entire event.

Quite the launch

Manulife reportedly spent quite a bomb on this – and it showed in the (lavish) scale. Of course it might be considered small change after you sink in 1.2B in a regional deal with DBS, but I digress.

First off, the Emcees were Irene Ang and Mark Lee.

Making broken English entertaining, while wearing green.

Their on-stage chemistry was fantastic and boy did they work the crowd ever so skillfully. Mark’s command of English (ahem, lack thereof) was played up to the hilt and their joke combos were felt natural and well-timed.

Then came the opening address by the deputy CEO of Manulife Singapore, Poh Huat. (huat ah! A name to die for)

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Manulife Singapore increased their market share in 3 years time by 10 fold. (They started with about 2% market share, and today it is 20%.)

They were also reporting stellar results in the Independent Financial Advisory, Bancassurance, and High Net Worth sales space.

As they say, when you are ahead, create an app. So they did. It was their Chief Customer Officer Li Choo that walked us through most of the details.

First there was the research done. Across 4 countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Hong Kong.

They found out that Singaporeans in particular, were fond of exercising – but were not willing to give up good food for the sake of good health. (I could have told you that, just watch what happens when you try to take away my bowl of laksa.)

All their research culminating in a single infographic

And that cash rebates as a reward for increased activity was the most preferable incentive. Finally, the key to having a successful rewards plan was simplicity.

There was a live demo of the app itself, and how it was designed to be as simple to use as possible.

In between, there were skits and mini-performances and even a chair zumba routine. To cap things off was a big finale with much pomp and fanfare.

Can’t launch an app called MOVE without, erm, moving

Local band Wicked Aura

Star Theatre @ 1 Vista Exchange Green, filled with green

How it works

Ok on to business. What are the mechanics?

  1. Buy a qualifying Manulife plan. You need to be a policy holder of their, subject to certain conditions (Will elaborate on that in the pros/cons analysis later)
  2. Download the app (duh!)
  3. Link it to your fitness wearable (fitbit, apple watch, etc)
  4. Clock an average of 10,000 steps daily. For every 6 months of 10,000 steps clocked daily (can be averaged out), you will get a premium cash back of $50. Annually, that works out to be $100.


The Pros

A subtle point about measurement is: Once that is being tracked, it influences (or it should influence) the frequency of steps or activity. Kind of like how people behave differently when they know they are on camera. Having the app would then influence more activity (more steps taken in a day)

A simple way to generate desired behavior – and earn the rewards. Move more, get more.


The Cons

There is a pretty high entry point. The qualifying plan needs to have a minimum annual premium of $3,000.

And personally, the premium cash back amount is relatively small compared to the minimum case size required. A person doing this would not likely be motivated by just the cashback alone.

A quiet moment of reflection

After the crowds have thinned and we are left to our own thoughts, we examine the broader perspectives of the app – and what it portends.

Why is Manulife doing this?

Why not? Insurers have been portrayed as sleepy on the best of days, so this is a great chance to show the industry that it can be revitalize and keep up with the times.

Is there business sense behind the app?

Not likely, if we are only concerned about dollars and cents. I wouldn’t jump to buy a hefty plan just because it offers a $100 cashback for my activity. But for the insurer, it is a chance to demonstrate that it is willing to engage their customers and also bathe itself in a hip, trendy light. You would be hard pressed to put a price tag on corporate image.

What would have made it better for me?

If I were a customer of Manulife, I would be willing to clear the hurdle of buying a fitness wearable. It looks like a solidly built app, even at the beta phase.

But to purchase a plan that amounts to $250 a month, I would think that perhaps a stretch. My policies range from hundreds to a little over a thousand dollars a year. So perhaps something to explore might be to lower that qualifying range to say, $1500.

What does the future look like?

More customer innovation, and a major rebranding of image for each insurer that is serious about staying in business for the long run. Everyone will be competing not only for attention and premiums, but also for mindshare. 5 – 10 years ago, I thought of Manulife as a sleepy Canadian company with dusty offices. Today it pulsates with a vibe that rivals a hip young company. (Think Apple or Snapchat)

All in, MOVE is a step in the right direction. (Pun not intended)

We would like to thank Manulife and also AKA Asia (their communications agency) for inviting us down for the launch. We wish them both great success in the coming year ahead.

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

The post Manulife’s New MOVE-ment [Defraying your Premiums, One step at a time] appeared first on Singapore's Life Insurance Blog: Expert and Unbiased Views.

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On every Sunday morning, my friend Janice will bring her grandmother to the wet market at Redhill. As her grandma has stayed in that area for more than 30 years, she misses the company of her old friends very much after moving to Punggol in 2013. As her granny is wheelchair-bounded, it is inconvenient for her to go back on her own. Therefore, it becomes a Sunday ritual and a bonding session between Janice and Granny.

Another Sunday arrives. Janice knocks on Granny’s room door and reminds her that it is time to leave the house for Redhill market. Her Granny stays in her bed, refusing to get up. She tells Janice that there is no need for her to bring her to Redhill anymore. Thinking that Granny must have quarrelled with her friends there, Janice enquires further. Her Granny’s response left her speechless


“All my friends there have passed away.”

There is no way of putting this. Dying really sucks. Not just for yourself but also for the people who know you. It is depressing enough to lose your ability to move around on your own but to know that your friends are no longer around suck the most. And the worst part about dying? It is definite.

Father Time is still undefeated.

Although the end result is the same, how people die has changed.
How so?

Let’s dissect Death.  

In the past, people tend to kick the bucket in a different manner from what we do now. Looking at the medical record 200 years ago, some causes of death are diarrhoea, burns, apoplexy and spontaneous combustion! If we move a century forward from that point, we can be pretty sure that the battlefields of WW1 were the undesired and unintended resting place for millions of young, healthy men of different nationalities.

What we can conclude from these is that people in the past often die from a sudden death. They can be in perfect health one day and pass on the next day. Medical resuscitation and treatment for illnesses are basic, compared to what we have today.

Moving to today, things are very different. While doctors still cannot prevent death altogether, they can postpone it. Cancer, heart diseases and pneumonia are the top principal cause of death in Singapore but people tend to expire a lot later in life as seen from our increasing life expectancy. This following graphic shows how people live and perish these days.

Due to longer lifespans, we have more time to contract diseases and to be hurt. Medical advancements give us a chance to recover from them and regain our vitality. As we ages, our organs start to function sub-optimal due to wear and tear and our body suffers. We fight hard to maintain our bodily function with medicine, supplements and exercise but eventually, we have to leave this beautiful round mould called Earth.

Enjoying this article so far? We guess not unless you love necrophilia.
Death is horrible. It sucks the life out of us, literally and figuratively.
Yet it is a conversation that we must have because immortality is not at hand.

A Good Death – all we can hope for.

There is a silver lining to all these. Instead of a sudden thud, the Grim Reaper makes his presence known by letting you hear his footsteps. Sometimes your doctor tells him to come back another day but you know he will be waiting around the corner.

What can you do about it?
You plan.
For a good death that is.

Look, we don’t like to talk about death, let alone discussing how we want to go. This is a natural instinct. However, not having this tough conversation may result in a horrible end. What we really hope for is to go on our own (but realistic) terms. These are some of the terms that define a good death.

– Having your wishes respected over the dying process
– Being pain-free or relatively so.
– Spiritually engaged
– At peace emotionally
– At the place of your choice.
– Saying the last farewell to family and loved ones.
– Assurance that they are taken care of.

You may scoff at the idea at first but if you think deeply about it, the choice is clear. Imagine this – you have always been in control of your own life. You are healthy, independent and wish to have a say in everything that concerns you. However, as you grasp for your last breath, you cannot choose to go home. You have lost your ability to speak because of all the tubes running down your oesophagus. You cannot tell your family what you really want as they struggle amongst themselves on what you truly desire. Dying in this case really suck.

The common theme of death in all eras – sorrow.

Now if you have communicated your wishes previously to your loved ones, things could have been very different. You have arranged for a medically trained practitioner to take care of you at home where you feel much more at ease. As compared to all the restrictions placed by the hospital on visiting hours and number of visits, your friends and family can come see you anytime, assuring that someone familiar will always be with you when you choose to take your last breath. You are leaving your family with a fully-paid property and no debts.

It is a great way to die if there is ever such a thing.

He not busy being born is busy dying

This famous morbid line from Bob Dylan’s song inspires millions of artists to reinvent and re-discover themselves. On the other hand, it serves as a reminder to all of us the general direction that we all are heading towards. We love this line much better than YOLO as the latter seems to be the excuse for doing dangerous acts without a care for others.

As we are busy living our lives, let us take a moment to appreciate the fact that we are now given a chance to plan for the dying part. The previous generation had no such opportunity as they were mostly down after the first strike. We have been presented with this gift and we better make the most out of it.

Dying peacefully is also a gift to your family as it serves as a proper closure.

Sit down and have a conversation with your loved ones when you are ageing. Let them know what you want truly. Update them when you have a change of mind. You may even put it in writing if that is your preferred way of communication.

Talking about it is just a start. Preparing for it is an on-going process. Not taking health for granted, living a happy life and to be spiritually connected are some things you can do but that is not what we are good at.  As an insurance educator, we want to let you know that insurance can be of great help when it comes to end-of-life preparation.

Life insurance is no longer about the plain old vanilla death coverage. Perhaps in response to the different ways people now live and die, insurance has changed accordingly. Critical illnesses insurance has sprouted to help people financially to cope with the associated cost of contracting one. In these recent years, early critical illness insurance is developed for the same purpose but for a wider range of less lethal ailments.

You also have your hospitalization insurance so that you do not leave a legacy of medical bills for your offspring to bear. Disability-income insurance ensures that you are financially stable even when you are at a low point of health. Long-term care insurance such as Eldershield is designed to take a monetary load off your shoulder when you are losing a significant amount of bodily functions.

>> We have a nearly perfect guide to life insurance coverage. Read it here. <<

It may seem to be crude to be talking about money and dying at the same time but we do that anyway because it is too important. Without financial support, a good death will be hard to come by.

A Good Life with a Good Death is all we can hope for.

We know a lot about life.
There are plenty of ways to go about it and many articles on how to live a full and meaningful life.
On the other hand, we almost avoid talking about death.
As a result, we know almost to nothing about having a good death as opposed to enjoying a good life.

Life is not a fairytale where everything is about happily ever after.
It is just an empty book where you get to fill in all the details.
How it ends may not be up to us to choose but if given a chance, let us put that perfect ending to fruition!

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

The post Dying sucks. This is how to make it suck less appeared first on Singapore's Life Insurance Blog: Expert and Unbiased Views.

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