STForum: Insurance

I refer to the letter written about Great Eastern’s Insurance:

Great Eastern’s Life Assurance’s reply last Sunday, “Policy excludes certain procedures” to my letter, “Insured but unable to make claim” (May 10), did not address my concerns.

My point was that the fine print embedded in GE’s policies stumps ordinary applicants like me when we file a claim.”

Let’s face it. most of us who buy health insurance do not wish to exercise any claim if we can help it because it means we would have fallen seriously ill.

One files a claim only because it is unavoidable, such as when one needs financial help suddenly. After all, this is the reason that one buys health insurance.

Now, on the issue of the “fine print”. Unlike previously angioplasty today can clear blockages completely. To do so previously requied a heart bypass operation.

So any rational heart patient will choose angioplasty instead of a bypass today, if he has a choice; which is why GE’s exclusion of an angioplasty and inclusion of the bypass is puzzling. I am also surprised by GE’s reply that “critical illness plans have been improved and upgraded and generally, the newer policy covers angioplasty”.

Mr Reeve Ong, the head of GE’s claims department who signed off on the reply, suggested that I was perhaps to blame for I would have been successful if I had signed up for its newer critical care policy which “pays as soon as it is proven that two or more coronary arteries have narrowed”.

His contention is baffling. If the newer policy covered angioplasty and mine did not, why wasn’t my policy upgraded automatically to include angioplasty?

The least GE could have done was to inform me, a loyal customer of 15 years, of its availability.

Furthermore, isn’t it a fact that arteries narrow as we grow older? Why should it matter whether a policy holder opts for an angioplasty or a bypass, as long as it does the job?

Having been involved in a little Insurance training in the past holiday, I can raise a few points to clarify about this issue. It is important that everyone knows of such issues, so that they have a better understanding when purchasing insurance.

1. Insurance amongst different companies will not have much difference
The first point, as stated in bold above, is that there is not much difference in terms of insurance coverage and pricing amongst different insurers. Naturally there will be slight differences. Some may be cheaper and some may be slightly more expensive. Some may cover more things, some cover less. However it is all due to competition. After some time, to keep up with competition, the insurers will try to cover the same things so as not to lose out.

2. Buy insurance from agents that you trust
I think trust is an important concept. Buy insurance only from agents you trust to do the job well. As my mentor frequently says, when you are standing at the counter in the hospital, which agent do you think you want to call to settle your bills for you? You have to have a responsible agent who will do everything nicely for you, and even update you on newer policies.

3. Your insurance agent is the one responsible for informing you on newer policies
After a period of competition, insurance policies evolve to include more things. To know what the differences are, you have to read the fine print. Your agent should be the one to call you and fix an appointment to let you know the changes, and whether you want to change or not, is up to the insured. The reason why insurers do not upgrade your policies automatically is because the prices of the policies would have gone up, and we all know we hate it when companies upgrade our policies automatically and charge us higher prices.

4. Change your own perception of the insurance sector
I think people should change the perception of the insurance sector. There are black sheeps and professionals in this industry. Insurance has become a taboo topic amongst the older generation, and perhaps the younger generation too, if they were swayed by their older relatives.

I also think that we should correct our attitude when our insurance agent calls to fix an appointment. How many people would gladly agree to a new appointment? Most people end up thinking that the insurance agent is just out to earn your money, and so reject the appointment. I was wondering if that is the case for this letter’s author. If that is the case, we can hardly blame the agent for not informing him on recent changes, because some people are just that stubborn.

While we are on this topic, I thought I should address a similar topic. Is it wrong for friends to earn your money? I have realized that some people are very disgusted with the thought that your friend is out to earn your money. Why is that wrong? As long as the friend has given goods or services that you desire, what is wrong with rewarding them with money? Why is it that if you are a true friend, you should not earn a friend’s money?

Back to the insurance issue, I think the person you should trust most to fix your problems for you is your family or your friends. So you’ll most likely end up buying from them rather than to somebody who just cold-called you. So to me, it is perfectly fine to earn money from friends and family.

The most important thing to learn is that insurance policies do change every few years, and so it is important to have a yearly meeting with your insurance agent to find out more. The decision is really up to you, whether you want to upgrade or not. I believe good insurance agents are sincere, and even if you do not end up buying from them, they are sure to continue meeting with you to introduce you to other policies. Of course, if you have the purchasing power, you should consider upgrading. As long as it’s within your means. Medical technology and practices evolve over the years, hence policies will change to include such treatment.

Who knows, maybe one day you need the newer technology to cure your illness? I think it is better to be prepared, than to be caught unaware like the gentlemen above.

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