Monday, February 28, 2011

presentation by zurich accident and health and aa international

today, ms lisa leow from zurich insurance company ltd (singapore branch) did a presentation of their group personal accident and corporate travel plans followed by ms cindy wong from aa international.

for the record, zurich has a presence in 170 countries with 26 consecutive quarters of profitability and an s&p credit rating of AA-. zurich first launched their zurich accident insurance product in 1880.

some unique selling propositions of zurich group pa are:

a. full terrorism meaning no exclusion for nuclear, biological and chemical
b. no exclusion for amateur sports while travelling;
c. natural catastrophe triggered inconvenience is covered;
d. although entry age before 75 years but no maximum renewable age for
full-time employees;
e. war risk cover;
f. niche occupational covers for crew on-board vessels, professional divers,
airline crew;
g. regional program structuring for companies expanding abroad;
h. red24 alert service - on-line.

my comments:

zurich has tied up with aa international to provide emergency evacuation and repatriation service. aa international was incorporated in malaysia in 1988 as asia assistance network (m) sdn berhad. in 2005, incorporated aa international inc with offices in kuala lumpur, bangkok, jakarta, manila, singapore, hong kong and seoul and operates 24/7. it is also a member of international assistance group - a global network of independent assistance companies with correspondents in more than 200 countries.

what is interesting is the presenter for aa international, ms cindy wong shared with us that the highest bill incurred so far was for a patient from south america with evaucation and medical bill combined for a total of half a million dollars.

this is the second highest that i have heard with the one from chartis coming in at three quarters of a million dollars.

and that's why i consider taking up travel insurance to be the most important component of any holiday planning, especially when taking a vacation in far away countries. and it is probably the least expensive item on your travel checklist.

therefore, take my advice and don't leave home without it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

it's always in the fine print!

this letter was published in today's today:

Same insurance claims, different outcomes

Letter from Wee Sin Lin
05:56 AM Feb 23, 2011

I AGREE with Mr Wilson Lee, "Not all travel insurance is equal" (Feb 21). I bought travel insurance for my son, who was going to Spain, from QBE Insurance Group in September last year.

Due to a nationwide general strike in Spain, his flight and accommodation were disrupted. His claim was rejected.

But his travel companion, who bought his travel insurance online from NTUC Income, was compensated.

Why is it that identical claims have different outcomes?

pay yourself first (4)

the following was first posted on february 12, 2011:

if u have visited my blog and read my blog entry on february 06, 2011, u will probably come to the conclusion (like i have) as to why on earth would any financial adviser recommend a yearly renewable term plan for the long term and in the example given, till the prospect attaining age 75. and i still can not fathom why there is no additional layer of protection added to the term plan in the form of an enhanced waiver of premium rider.

mind u, we are talking about paying mega bucks should my prospect decide to 'hang-on' to his term plan for the long haul. and for just plain vanilla death and total and permanent disability coverage, surely the question arises as to whether doing so is 'loco' in terms of forking out $68,622.00 or from my recommendations with just $23,868.00 or $25,043.20 (with the enhanced waiver of premium benefit).

note: 'loco' in spanish means crazy.

my comments:

therefore, even if u belong to the 'buy term and invest the rest' camp, surely the importance of engaging the right financial adviser is still paramount before signing on the dotted lines.

the latter is even more significant as term products are practically almost universally available from almost all insurers and pricing can be as different as night and day or even chalk and cheese.

this is the latest development:

after trying to reach this prospect (believe u me, it was really difficult), i finally managed to talk to him today. the opposite was true when he was readily available to meet-up with me.

from the tone of his voice, i could tell he waa in no mood to talk to me and after muttering a curt 'don't call me, i'll call u', he abruptly ended our teleconversation.

my comments:

i seem to have a knack for being 'picked-on' and doing pro bono work or what i term as national service and my gut tells me this prospect belongs to the same category or what the world classifies as 'free-loaders'.

well, like the americans would say, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

do u know of a bigger medical bill?

it was reported in the local media that dr susan lim's bill amounted to a cool $24.8 million for treating a patient linked to the brunei palace for 7 months.

the bill has yet to be paid although it was reduced not once but twice and became the heart of a case between dr lim and the singapore medical council.

the patient had breast cancer and later died.

my comments:

i know of another super whopper (with apologies to burger king) medical bill which simply dwarfs this latest one which was incurred by dr stanley ho, casino mogul extraordinaire after suffering a stroke in 2009 and the bill far surpasses the latest one on record.

what's my point?

that medical bills can run as high as the proverbial bottomless pit should not come as a surprise to anyone because medical inflation often runs the fastest ahead of other inflationary concerns.

that's why generally, insurers (and reinsurers) will usually take the route of offering healthcare products with reviewable and non-guaranteed pricing.

and i often cringe when i hear financial advisers telling their clients that the annual limit of an integrated shield plan should be sufficient to hedge future healthcare costs. but what if the client should surpass the annual limit and have to bear significant out-of-pocket expenses?

which is why my approach is different, for the following reasons:

a. although the annual limit of an integrated shield plan is up to $600,000
(for ntuc-income's enhanced preferred plan), this is still a dollar-capped
limit and

b. there may be an extreme case of the breaching of the annual limit and
if this happens, the financial adviser places himself/herself to the
exposure of litigation.

therefore, i always stress to the person/s in front of me that the hedging of future healthcare costs will be limited to the annual policy limit and this will be well documented in the kyc (know your client) forms.

Monday, February 21, 2011

it's always in the fine print

the following letter was published in today's today:

Not all travel insurance is equal
Letter from Wilson Lee
05:55 AM Feb 21, 2011

THERE are numerous travel insurance companies and I had the unfortunate experience of choosing Chartis.

Last December, my family and friends went on a two-week holiday to the United States. On our way back, our connecting flight to Singapore was cancelled. We were delayed by at least 15 hours and had to make frantic overseas calls to reschedule appointments and take an extra day off work.

When we returned to Singapore, my brother wrote to Delta Airlines asking for documentation of the flight cancellation. The airline sent him a report stating that the flight was cancelled due to flight operations. The document also listed all 15 of us who were on the flight.

In early January, we submitted the document to our respective travel insurers to apply for compensation.

In the middle of January, my brother's party of four was compensated by MSIG and a friend's party of five was compensated by Great Eastern. Another friend was compensated by Liberty in early February and my second brother got his compensation from Great Eastern in mid-February.

Chartis, however, rejected my claim saying that cancellations due to flight operations were not covered.

I was upset and wrote to Chartis, pointing out that their competitors had compensated the other members of my group fast and efficiently based on the same documents, and I asked why Chartis was so rigid.

Chartis replied that they could not offer compensation as they had verified with Delta that the flight was cancelled due to crew reasons and it did not cover such delays.

What, then, did I buy travel insurance for, if not to guard against all the inconveniences of a 15-hour delay?

So, a note to readers: When you buy travel insurance be careful. Flight disruptions are common nowadays, so be sure your travel insurer is thorough and competitive in their policy coverage.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

pay yourself first (3)

i had some niggling queries in my mind on my monthly bill statements and when i called starhub today for clarifications, i was shocked to discover that the company has been billing me for services which i either was not aware of or did not utilise the services from the day i purportedly signed up for them.

what do i mean?

some time ago according to the customer service officer from starhub, i signed up for their livetv service which was complimentary at that time but i was billed for the service from august 2009 for $25.00 monthly.

and i was also informed of the internet service which again i purportedly signed up some moons ago for $10.00 monthly.

but of course, i wasn't thrilled to learn i have been paying an additional $35.00 monthly for my starhub mobile services for some donkey months without the benefit of using these services.

my comments:

my experience of paying my hard earned $$$ for virtually nothing can be compared to signing up for insurance contracts and being not really aware of the 'fine print' which are usually exclusions which the insurer will bear no liabilities whatsoever to the life insured.

another so-called 'blind spot' lies in the pricing of insurance coverage of homogenous products where pricing can be as different as night and day.

does the consumer know?

my thinking here is one of doubt because although the average singaporean is well known to be a bargain hunter, this may not extend to the sourcing or buying of insurnace products as more than half of our consumers do their business with the tied agency channel even as at the end of 2010 based on stats from the lia (life insurance association of singapore -


Friday, February 18, 2011

recruitment of financial advisers?

i have just received this unsolicited email:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Smart Recruitment delivers fast-track office staff and executive resourcing – interim management and permanent recruitment – leveraging our extensive talent bank of junior and senior executives of diverse industries and background.

Our clients are typically SMEs, MNCs and Listed Companies of diverse industries in Singapore and the region.

We’re Singapore’s fastest-growing office staffing and executive recruiters , with a unique, full-service process – a balanced blend of technology and personal service. Our approach attracts both top-quality candidates and client opportunities, and enables us to rapidly and effectively match them together in successful placements.

Our team of talented recruiters is comprised of recruiting professionals who are among the most experienced in the industry. We manage each of our client relationships with the highest degree of professionalism, integrity, confidentiality, tact and urgency

Our Rates & Services:
SGD 1500 - 2000
60% of the first month’s salary with 1 month’s guarantee
SGD 2001- 5000
70% of the first month’s salary with 1 month’s guarantee
SGD Above 5001
80% of the first month’s salary with 1 month’s guarantee

Terms of Payment : 7 days from date of Invoice

2. TEMPORARY PLACEMENT - For employment period less than 1 month : S$200.00
- For employment period between 1 - 2 months : S$300.00
- For employment period beyond 2 months : same as Permanent Rate Note : Above rates are for one time charge to employers only.

Terms of Payment : Immediate .
SERVICE GUARANTEE: This applies to Permanent Placement Service only. The Agency guarantees that the staff will work for a minimum period of 1 month. In the event that the staff resigns or found not suitable by the Employer within the one-month trial period, the Agency will undertake to find suitable replacement at no extra charge subject to a maximum of 2 replacements. Failing which, the Agency will refund 50% of the Invoice amount to client on the condition that the placement fee has been settled within 7 days from the date of the Invoice.
Please do contact us if you have any staffing needs. We are glad to be your recruiting partner.

Best Regards

Emily Choo
Recruitment Consultant
DID: 63104420, 62968770
38 Genting Lane, #02-04 Metal House Singapore 349553

This is a genuine business advertising message. If you wish to opt out and remove from our regular mailing list, please click here or Call 68991778. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

my comments:

i'm not intentionally giving a free plug for smart recruitment but outsourcing recruitment for wannabe financial advisers to join promiseland independent is strictly a no-no for us.

when a prospective wannabe fa intends to join us, he/she will first have to go through an informal chat/interview with moi. if i deem the person to be suitable, i will then refer him/her to my md, mr david choo who will then meet-up with the person for another assessment.

and last but not least, the wannabe fa will have to go through other rounds of stringent checks before he/she can be certified to be 'fit and proper' before we submit his/her application to the monetary authority of singapore. this is even more significant now that the rnf (representative notification framework) has come into effect from november 26, 2010.

therefore, we can and will not entrust the recruitment of wannabe financial advisers to be outsourced to any 3rd party (with all due respect to any recruitment company).

in the final analysis, once we admit any rouge fa into promiseland independent, we shall have added the exposure or potential for this person to bring the whole house down, at any point in time in the future.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

am i a greater fool?

in my observations, there have been far too many blog and forum postings penned by the famous and not-so-famous personalities/consumers on how financial advisers have continued to mislead and mis-sell insurance policies in singapore and so on and so forth, ad infinitum.

but let us step back for a moment and reflect on financial advisers who have been given the proverbial treatment of being taken for a ride?

here, i'm referring to financial advisers who are not only ethical but consistently and genuinely doing their darnest or utmost (driven by their passion) to serve consumers and their interests?

my comments:

amongst some other financial advisers who may be in a similar situation like myself and if i have to relate my own experience after 13 years in the financial industry with promiseland independent, mine may be a complete reversal of what have been regularly posted in many blogs and forums on 'bashing' of financial advisers.

take 2010 for example, i spent almost 8 months' worth of sacrificing my only day off, which is saturday doing national service which did not yeild any meaningful business to me and my company.

what do i mean?

the following is a summary of what occupied the substantial portion of almost 8 months' worth of meeting up with prospects/referrals on saturdays in 2010:

a. doing servicing, meaning signing of forms to effect change of address, change of
premium mode, etc affecting several insurers which is less administratively friendly
as compared to say, a tied agent;
b. effecting downgrade of shield plans, sometimes for individuals and often for
c. effecting upgrade of shield plans, for both individuals and families;
d. explore insurance options for those who may be classified as sub-standard risks,
meaning those with a medical history/pre-existing conditions;
e. explore insurance options for those whose early stage cancer has completed treatment
and follow-up.
f. collect cheque payment for payment of premiums which thank God is not too frequent;
g. accompanying prospect/referral for medical exams
h. initial meetings doing fact finding and or financial needs analysis
i. other miscellaneous items like effecting change of adviser.

the nett result is moi obtaining less than 5% of new business, with almost all coming from taking up shield plans.


because up to almost 90% of these prospects/referrals already have a medical history and or pre-existing conditions and the majority being declined due to having a recent history of contracting cancer.

for those whose insurance applications resulted in a counter-offer from insurance companies, the usual response is ntu or not-taken-up, meaning the prospect/referral is unhappy with either paying extra premiums, health exclusion/s or even both.

as can be seen from my experience, i have continually expanded my own and my company's resources and even sacrificed the only free day of the week, saturday without any commensurate return from doing what i term as 'national service' riding on my track record of never having charged for my services in my entire career as a financial adviser.

many promiselanders (my fellow advisers in our company) have openly labelled me a 'fool' and i felt this is a timely wake-up call for me to wake up from my slumber and reflect on this dubious title and decide on how i should continue to perform my role as a financial adviser from this time forth.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ntuc-income: relaunch of capital plus (CPN 23)

we have just received this email notification from ntuc-income:

Dear Partners

Capital Plus (CPN23)
We will be relaunching Capital Plus (CPN23) on 18 February 2011.

This plan is opened to all policyholders and new applicants. It has a policy term of 2 years and a guaranteed yield of 1.4% p.a. upon maturity.

The minimum single premium per policy is set at $10,000. The entry age is from 16 to 80 (last birthday), available for Cash or SRS.

More details of the plans can be found in the sample application form and FAQ attached.

Application will be closed once we have received the sales allocation or by 15 March 2011, whichever is earlier.


Shawn Goh
Head, Financial Advisers, Partnership Distribution
FA Hotline: (65) 9746-2663 |

Insurers offer top dollar to attract agents

Hong Kong: Insurers offer top dollar to attract agents

High staff turnover is hitting insurers, with competitors offering millions of dollars in bonuses to poach top sales staff from other companies, reports the Standard newspaper.

An industry source said that about 100 agents left Manulife recently to join AIA Group. He cited a case in which a Manulife agent was initially offered a HK$1.5 million (US$192,500) bonus by AIA at the end of last year. After she declined the offer, AIA raised the carrot to HK$4 million.

Legislator, Mr Chan Kin-por, who represents the insurance sector, says that he has heard of some insurers offering up to HK$10 million in bonuses to lure agents. But he warned: "I have received complaints saying insurers require the agent to attain a certain sales target in three years, but might use an excuse to dismiss him near the end of the period."

The switch to another insurer means that agents who make the move may persuade customers to give up their existing policy and buy a new one from their new firm. Mr Chan warns policyholders to have a thorough understanding of terms and conditions before terminating their policies because they may not be able to transfer benefits from the old to the new. He especially reminds those who have taken out their policies for only one or two years that their benefits are very likely to be forfeited upon termination.

The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers says that it has a rule to guarantee the transfer of benefits from one policy to another. However, it is not necessary for every insurer to follow this regulation. Of 100 cases investigated in 2009, two of them involved breaches of this rule. Also, the federation is reminding policyholders to sign a client protection certificate to guarantee that benefits in the old policies are retained.

my comments:

in a report by the standard, hong kong's biggest circulation english daily, insurers are offering top dollar to attract agents.

sigh, is it any different here in our tiny red dot nation?

Monday, February 14, 2011

happy valentine's day

if u happen to see more gals (or even guys) grasping roses and chocs/candies and balancing a teddy bear/soft toy with the other hand, u will probably come to realise that today is not like any other day because today, love is literally in the air being valentine's day.

as people all around singapore (and planet earth) mark this day with declarations of love, let me wish each and everyone a happy valentine's day.

my comments:

as a christian, i cannot think of another more absolute example of the demonstration of agape love than Abba Daddy sacrificing his only begotten son, Jesus Christ to die for us.

and it is a reminder to me (and all christians never to forget our first love, Jesus Christ because He first loved us.

and perhaps today is an exhortation to me to stay focused on my first love as well, and not give in to the temptation to fall in love with money for the bible warns that the love of money is the root of all evil.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

prudential - launch of pruearly stage disability

prudential will be launching pruearly stage disability, a first of its kind product in singapore.

what is pruearly stage disability?

Early Stage Disability is Singapore's first and only insurance policy that covers you against partial and temporary disablement, as a result of an illness or injury, based on your ability to carry out daily tasks affecting your quality of life. These tasks are Quality of Life Conditions (QLC) which can potentially have a major impact on your lifestyle - and probably your finances. Early Stage Disability starts to provide payout if one is unable to perform at least 2 of the 6 Quality of Life Conditions (QLC), which will affect your quality of life1.

This plan provides comprehensive coverage with Partial or Full Payout2 on selected early disabilities. It also covers you for Total and Permanent Disability2 and disabilities as a result of selected hazardous activities under the Special Risk benefit2 , Upon the first claim made under Partial Payout2, the future premiums will be waived so you can concentrate on recovery. For PRUearly stage disability (standalone plan)3, a benefit of $3,000 is payable in the event of death.

key benefits:

Key Benefits

The first Partial Payout2 of 50% of sum assured4 when you satisfy 2 out of 6 Quality of Life Conditions1 (QLC) as a result of an illness or injury - Walking, Fine Hand Control, Sitting and Rising from a chair, Lifting and Carrying, Communicating and Eyesight - you'll find comfort in lump sum payout2 of 50% of the sum assured4. (Refer to definition of QLCs)

Remaining 50% of sum assured4 payable if the condition deteriorates, such that a 3rd Quality of Life Conditions1 becomes a difficulty, the balance of the 50% sum assured4 will be paid, so you can concentrate on getting back to your life.

* After the first Partial Payout2, rest assured that all future premiums will be waived
* Upon Total and Permanent Disability, be rest assured that you are well covered with a 100% payout2 to help you to cope7
* Receive an 20% payout2 of the sum assured4 subject to a maximum of $20,000 when you satisfy any of the 3 out of 6 Quality of Life Conditions1 from selected hazardous activities like scuba diving, rock climbing, sky diving or while serving National Service8
* Continue to be protected till age 70 at next birthday9
* Available as a standalone plan (PRUearly stage disability)3 or a supplementary benefit (Early Stage Disability) to your Prudential insurance plan
* Also available as a supplementary benefit for children below the age of 15

^ Terms and conditions apply

Quality of Life Conditions

Walking The inability to walk more than 200m on a level surface continuously with or without aids and adaptations, within 5 minutes, because of breathlessness or severe pain.
Fine Hand Control The inability to remove 5 paracetamol pills from a blister pack within 60 seconds, using your hand(s) with or without aids and adaptations.
Sitting and Rising from chair The inability to sit and rise to a standing position from a wheelchair or chair (both with arms) of 40cm to 45cm in height without the help of another person.
Lifting and Carrying The inability to lift (from a bench height of 1m) and carry a 2kg weight for 10m and then placing it back down at bench height, with or without aids and adaptations.
Communicating5 As a result of an illness or injury, the inability to hear sounds of below 60 decibels in all frequencies of hearing or the inability to speak with sufficient clarity.
Eyesight6 When tested with visual aids, vision is measured at 6/60 or worse in one of the eyes using a Snellen eye chart.

If the life assured is more than 15 years old as at the date of his disability and, as a result of illness or injury, satisfies any 2 or 3 of the Quality of Life Conditions under the covered benefits. We will honour the claim provided that any 2 or 3 of the Quality of Life Conditions are certified to be existing conditions suffered by the life assured at least 90 days after the confirmed diagnosis of the illness or injury directly leading up to the development of the relevant Quality of Life Conditions

If the life assured is between 28 days and 15 years old at date of disability, and is disabled as a result of illness or injury and is confined to a home, Hospital or other institutions requiring constant care and medical attention for the relevant stipulated period required under the covered benefits. Therefore, the Quality of Life Conditions will not be used.
Each benefit is subject to a deferment period prior to a claim being paid out. Deferment period varies accordingly to each benefit and is defined as the period between the confirmed diagnosis of illness or injury and the date of disability. Please refer to the product summary for details.
3 PRUearly stage disability is not available for sale to non-income earners such as housewives, home-maker, students and children.
In the case of a claim is made on a life assured below age 1 year, the claim payable would be 20% of the claimable sum assured under each disability benefit.
A claim under this section must be supported by evidence such as audiometric and sound threshold tests and that the condition has been investigated and is being managed by an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) specialist or a specialist in the relevant field.
A claim under this section must be supported by evidence that the condition has been investigated and is being managed by an ophthalmologist.
7 The total claims paid under the Partial Payout benefit, Full Payout benefit, Total and Permanent Disability benefit and Special Risk benefit shall not exceed the Early Stage Disability Benefit sum assured.
Please refer to the product summary for the full list of covered risks and activities.

Special Risk benefit pays out 20% of the sum assured subject to a maximum claim of $20,000, is payable only if the Early Stage Disability Benefit has not terminated and the total payout has not exceeded the sum assured.
9 For new policies, the minimum policy term is 5 years (for 5 year limited pay policies) or 10 years (for other policies). For Mid Term Add to existing policies, the minimum policy term is 6 years.
10 Premium rates (non guaranteed) will differ for standalone plans and will vary based on different occupational class, gender and age at entry.
11 Premium per day is based on annual premium divided by 365 days and rounded up to the nearest ten cents.
• Male non smoker, age 30 at next birthday is $203.00 per annum, for a coverage term of 40 years
• Female non-smoker, age 30 at next birthday is $239.50 per annum, for a coverage term of 40 years
• Male non smoker, age 40 at next birthday is $356.50 per annum , for a coverage term of 30 years
• Female non-smoker, age 40 at next birthday is $446.50 per annum, for a coverage term of 30 years

Saturday, February 12, 2011

pay yourself first (2)

if u have visited my blog and read my blog entry on february 06, 2011, u will probably come to the conclusion (like i have) as to why on earth would any financial adviser recommend a yearly renewable term plan for the long term and in the example given, till the prospect attaining age 75. and i still can not fathom why there is no additional layer of protection added to the term plan in the form of an enhanced waiver of premium rider.

mind u, we are talking about paying mega bucks should my prospect decide to 'hang-on' to his term plan for the long haul. and for just plain vanilla death and total and permanent disability coverage, surely the question arises as to whether doing so is 'loco' in terms of forking out $68,622.00 or from my recommendations with just $23,868.00 or $25,043.20 (with the enhanced waiver of premium benefit).

note: 'loco' in spanish means crazy.

my comments:

therefore, even if u belong to the 'buy term and invest the rest' camp, surely the importance of engaging the right financial adviser is still paramount before signing on the dotted lines.

the latter is even more significant as term products are practically almost universally available from almost all insurers and pricing can be as different as night and day or even chalk and cheese.

Friday, February 11, 2011

value-add advice/servicing

from my review of hundreds of individual/families' wealth protection portfolios in my 14 years in the financial industry, one significant finding has always been the fact that consumers' may not be the wiser when it comes to their choice of choosing the right premium payment mode.

what do i mean?

by and large, most consumers have opted to pay their insurance premiums on a monthly mode basis.

is this wrong?

yes, wrong in the sense that insurers usually penalise the policyowners by imposing a higher premium payable if the premium payable is not paid on an annual mode basis.

and opting to pay on a monthly mode basis can cost the policyowner up to a hefty 5% more as compared to paying premiums on an annual mode basis.

my comments:

does it surprise me that something so basic like the lack of knowledge on the consumers' part in being penalised (with paying higher premiums) by opting to pay insurance premiums on a monthly mode basis?

certainly not!

one recent case was a fellow chruch member who benefited from my sharing of this nugget of information. i assisted him in effecting the change of premium mode to an annual mode basis for 6 whole life policies and the immediate impact was substantial savings amounting to hundreds of dollars for his 5 family members, including his spouse.

mind u, there was no benefit for me in carrying out this value-add service for him and his family but i believe one of the intangible aspects of doing 'national service' should turn out to be positive for me and promiseland independent long into the future.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

the customer is always right?

one of the value-add services which i carry out for my clientele or for some of them is to purchase the medical report on their behalf at their request. this involves doing some 'leg work' and admin stuff incurred on my part.

but i have absolutely no idea why they should wish to buy the medical report but if the cost is too high and there are no abnormalities found in the tests, i will sggest to my client to drop the idea of purchasing the medical report. i remember this well in the case of a cfo of a fortune global 500 company who heeded my advice not to fork out close to $300 for his medical report (even after a 50% discount given by the insurer) which was pretty comprehensive including stress test of his heart, blood tests, chest x-ray, urine tests, hiv test, etc.

but back to another client who not only did not pay me for his medical report but had the gall to imply that i was earning an additional commission from the purchase of his medical report.

my comments:

first, i must state that i do not receive any commission or cut from the insurer for any client who wish to purchase his/her medical report from the medical tests which is usually part and parcel of the underwriting requirement in any insurance application.

and what can i say about this client who 'cheated' me for not paying for his medical report and even cast aspersions on my integrity.

i thank God this client is just one out of a million.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

baby shield health insurance long overdue

there is an article of the same name penned by ms salma khalik in today's edition of the straits times.

she pointed to a need for a baby shield health insurance plan to cover the following:

a. every day, more than 2 babies (or about 860 babies a year) are born with some serious birth defects.
b. thousands of babies are born prematurely.

she argued that there should be a babyshield plan to cover all babies before birth and premiums should be payable from the medisave account.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Life insurance industry surpasses $1.6 billion in new business premiums

latest news from the life insurance association of singapore.

2010 can be said to be a good year for the insurance industry here because there were a total of $1,651.3 million of weighted* new business premiums for the year, up from $1,427 million.

even single premium business came in strongly recording a 9% rise over 2009 with %562.1 million. of these, 18% were funded through cpfis sales.

health insurance's contribution amounted to $156 million which saw an increase of almost 7% of which a sizeable 85% came from integrated shield plans and riders.

* The weighted new business premium figure is calculated as follows:
10% SPI + 100% API with adjustment for premium payment terms of less than
10 years.

** Source: MAS

my comments:

although i'm encouraged by the good showing of the insurance industry in 2010, i'm somewhat disappointed that the bulk of new insurance sales remained with the tied agency channel from more than 13,300 agents.

i must state that i'm have nothing against other financial advisers (which includes tied agents) as i do not regard them as my competition. my greatest competitor has and will always be myself in terms of overcoming the challenges of convincing individuals, families and companies to prioritize their wealth protection planning.

no ifs or butts about this health alert

in a health alert issued by the us health and nutrition examination survey* involving 4,757 adults in the united states and which was published in the european heart journal last month, determined that sitting down for too long is bad - regardless of whether the person exercises regularly and has a healthy diet.

what this does is to lower good cholesterol and increases triglycerides.

the study also found that getting up and moving about, even for a minute or two, instead of just sitting for long periods, could result in a smaller waistline and reduce the risk of suffering from a heart attack.

lending credibility to the study, several doctors in singapore said it underscored the importance of not leading too sedentary a lifestyle.

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a survey research program conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) to asses the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States, and to track changes over time. The survey combines interviews and physical examinations. The NHANES interview includes demographic, socioeconomic, dietary, and health-related questions. The examination component consists of medical, dental, and physiological measurements, as well as laboratory tests administered by medical personnel.

The first NHANES was conducted in 1971. Findings from the survey are used to determine the prevalence of major diseases and risk factors for diseases. Information is used to assess nutritional status and its association with health promotion and disease prevention. NHANES findings are also the basis for national standards for such measurements as height, weight, and blood pressure. Data from this survey are used in epidemiological studies and health sciences research, which help develop sound public health policy, direct and design health programs and services, and expand the health knowledge.

my comments:

when we consider that 1 out of 2 singaporeans do not fall into the normal or healthy bmi range of 18.5 to 22.9**, this latest study by the us health and nutrition examination survey certainly adds to the credibility of the numero uno scourge of the modern world, which is obesity.

the world health organisation and governments of the united states, europe and many other countries have been alarmed at the trend of growing obesity amongst the populations.

here in our tiny red dot nation, our government is also focused on tackling the problem of rising obesity.

i have had many clients who may be in the pink of health (with an excellent familly history as well) but when it comes to their bmi which is outside the normal or healthy range, the response from our insurers would be to issue a conditional accceptance in terms of either loading their premiums or exclusions on coverage or even both. in extreme cases, the insurer will even decline their business which has happened in the case of one client (overly obese) being rejected for aviva's myshield/myshield plus moratorium underwriting. this is extremely rare because if the basic 2 conditions of moratorium underwriting are met, aviva's myshield/myshield plus almost always comes with guaranteed acceptance. the 2 basic conditions on aviva's myshield/myshield plus moratorium underwriting are:

a. the applicant or any of the applicant's dependents must never ever had any
deferment/postphonement or being declined for any application, renewal or
reinstatement of life, health or any other insurance policy and;
b. are not in any class 4 occupation.

and now, i should add a crystal clear warning of a third condition that the applicant should not be overly obese as well.

therefore, with this latest health alert, and for those who are still sitting on their butts (pardon my language), may be the impetus to lull them out of their inertia in taking up insurance.

**The recommended Singapore's Asia BMI cut-offs:

BMI for Adults (kg/m2) Health Risk
27.5 and above High Risk
23 - 27.4 Moderate Risk
18.5 - 22.9 Low Risk/
Healthy Range
Below 18.5 Risk of
deficiency and

source: MOH and Health Promotion Board

Monday, February 7, 2011

if it sounds too good to be true.......

this is an unsolicited email which i have just received:

Dear Friend,

This letter must come to you as a big surprise, please accept my apology for sending you unsolicited mail and please kindly delete this message from your mail box if you are not interested.

My name is Dr.Oladi Kunde, I am a Ghanaian citizen and a Banker with a reputable bank here. Bank Of Ghana (B.O.G) I occupy the position of Audit and Accountant manger, it is with good spirit of heart I opened up this great opportunity to you hoping that you will not betray this trust. A deceased client of mine died as the result of a heart-related condition on March 12th 2005. His heart condition was due to the death of all the members of his family in the tsunami disaster on the 26th December2004 in Sumatra Indonesia.

For more information:

My late Client has a deposit of Ten Million Five Hundred Thousand United State dollars (US$10.5Million Dollars) left behind here in our bank, I contacted you so I can present you as my late client next of kin, so the money can be transferred to your account and we will share it together at equal share, 50% for you and 50% for me. After that, I shall immediately come over to your country for investment with my own share of the money.

I will like to inform you that I am the only person aware of this after me investigation because my bank has been expecting his next of kin to come up for the claim of this fund but all in vain based on the fact that they all died in the tsunami disaster on the 26th December2004 in Sumatra Indonesia. This is the main reason why I want to make use of this opportunity because I don’t want my bank to transfer the money into the bank treasury as unclaimed fund.

Please reply immediately with your information including your full names, full address and telephone number for easy communication if you are interested.
I await your prompt response immediately,

Best Regards,
Dr.Oladi Kunde.

my comments:

well, doesn't it sound too good to be true to be given 50% of US$10.5 million out of the blue?

and i've also received many, many other emails with similar offers or even being notified that i have won the grand lotteries in countries like spain, some other european union country, etc.

what's the best response to these offers?

my advice is to simply hit the delete button because if it sounds too good to be true, it is just that, too good to be true.

but i will not be in any way surprised that there will be others who will respond to these offers and that's why this blog entry is my teeny weeny contribution to warn readers not to be enticed by any offer that sounds too good to be true.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

pay yourself first

just last monday, i was referred to a prospect who wanted a comprehensive review of his wealth protection portfolio.

one of the most significant advantages of doing this is to enjoy an updated status of your financial health which is very much like going through an annual health screening. and of course, the results of the annual health screening may save your life in terms of uncovering health conditions which may or may not be life threatening. in the same way, the outcome of the review will reveal the diagnosis of whether the prospect/client:

a. is under-insured or
b. is over-insured or
c. is paying more for his/her coverage and benefits or
d. has gaps in the coverage or
e. has more than 1 of the abovementioned items.

my comments:

this prospect was not too happy on one of his policies which required him to pay more with each policy anniversary when i pointed this out to him. and of course, he was none the wiser until i highlighted this fact to him. and no, i'm not referring to a regular premium ilp product but a good guess anyway. and surprise (or perhaps not), he has no comprehensive h&s plan but is only on the basic medishield coverage. and yes, no disability income protection as well.

as to paying higher premium on each policy anniversary, do u wish to hazard a guess as to what type of plan this is?

yes, u guessed it. this prospect has been sold a yearly renewable term policy that reprices the premium on every policy anniversary when the life insured attains a higher age and so on and so forth.

for the record, he took up the yearly renewable term policy at age 35 (last birthday) with a sum assured of $300,000.00. the premiums payable from inception is just $422.00 but is repriced yearly till it reaches $18,273.85, at age 75. and i was also surprised his financial adviser did not recommend another layer of protection to the plan which is to add the enhanced waiver of premium.

what i recommended was another similar term plan till age 65 (his attained age is now age 39 next birthday) but with an enhanced waiver of premium based on his financial needs analysis.

the yearly premium payable is just $918.00 and $963.20 (with the enhanced waiver of premium). total premiums payable will be $23,868.00 and $25,043.20 respectively till the end of the term of coverage, assuming no repricing of the enhanced waiver of premium rider.

for his current yearly renewable term plan (without enhanced waiver of premium), the total premiums payable will be $68,622.00 till age 65 and a truly astonishing $191,519.00 at age 75.

after giving him my recommendations, he thanked me for my 'homework' and said he will get back to me.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

new survey commissioned by citi

a new survey commissioned by global financial services company, citi revealed that 70% of respondents believed that cpf savings will only provide some or a little of their retirement income.

some key findings:

1. only 27% of the total number of respondents had a formal retirement plan.

2. continuing to work and relying on insurance and investments were the most
popular ways to add to their retirement fund.

3. approximately 52% will like to work as long as possible.

4. about 45% said the total amount of their retirement savings remained the
same as it was before the global financial crisis.

5. 22% felt they knew how much was needed for their retirement savings and
were on track to getting it.

6. about 55% were not sure how much they needed but had started saving.

7. only 27% had discussed wealth transfer plans with their family members or
a financial adviser.

8. but only 19% of singapore residents had an up-to-date will.


the online poll was conducted across 11 markets in the asia-pacific including singapore, australia, china, hong kong and india.

it was conducted in november 2010 with 500 randomly selected respondents crossing genders, ages and income groups.

Friday, February 4, 2011

do we have choices?

i do not know whether other consumers have had our experience when eating out during the current holiday season but this is our experience today.

while in-between the traditional visitation to our relatives' homes, we stopped by to have our lunch at the neighbourhood coffee shop.

perhaps or perhaps not surprisingly, we had to pay a 'surcharge' levied on our drinks and fish ball noodles (not many stalls were opened for business).

what was the surchage?

for our drinks:

a. kopi-o kosong for myself: $1.00 with a surchage of $0.30
b. kopi-o for my wife: $1.10 with a similar surchage of $0.30
c. coke for our son: $1.60 with a surchage of $0.30

so, on a 'normal' day, we would have paid just $2.70 but because it was during the lunar new year holidays, we coughed out $3.70.

for our 3 bowls of fish ball noodles, we paid a total of $10.50 with a total surchage of $1.50. and i could not help but took notice that the noodles and fish balls in the bowl were lesser than usual.

my comments:

evidentaly, i may not have the usual choices which i can exercise outside of the lunar new year holidays and therefore, i should accept paying the 'surchages' if i want to fill my tummy, right?

but my point is, in terms of the hundreds of insurance products from our 15 life insurers here, there are obviously a wider range of choices available to the consumer and i can still see from the life insurance association of singapore's website that more than half of new business taken up is through the tied agency channel.

to me, this is both vexing and puzzling as the consumer here is well known in scouting or hunting for the best possible bargains through it/pc shows, sales, post christmas sales, post lunar new year sales, etc.

and when it comes to insurance, i have always championed the consumers' interests and i do not see why anyone should even pay a cent more for taking up any insurance product especially so when pricing may be the key difference between insurers.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

blessed lunar new year 2011!

on the occasion of one of the most auspicious days of the chinese calender, here's moi wishing each and everyone, a blessed lunar new year 2011 filled with all of the very best things in life.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

world's oldest person dies at 115

many news agencies reported today that the world's oldest person, ms eunice sanborn, aged 115, died at her east texas home in the usa on monday. she has lived under 21 of the 43 us presidents and survived 3 husbands and even outlived her only child, a daughter, who died at aged 90 years.

ms sanborn credited her longevity to her belief in Jesus Christ and good genes. and to give a perspective of ms sanborn's long life, she has lived in 3 centuries (19th, 20th and 21 century), 2 world wars, the great depression of the late 20s and the recent great recession.

according to the gerontology research group, the title of the next oldest man and woman now goes to a man, aged 114 years living in montans and ms besse cooper of georgia, also aged 114 years.

my comments:

and guess what? our very own supercentenarian, ms teresa hsu chih, popularly known as a humanitarian will be celebrating her 113th birthday this year (born july 07, 1898) as well.

what'm i trying to say?

firstly, the most alarming stats that most folks here have not planned for their retirement and therefore, the consequence of money no enough (with apologies to jack neo) in their golden years.

and although our government has put in place, an annuity scheme like the cpf life plan for older singaporeans (since september 05, 2009), the take-up so far is just 60,000 out of a pool of over 700,000.

therefore, there should be an urgency on the part of the present population (and the sooner, the better) to plan for their retirement, bearing in mind, the fact that many will outlive the present life expectancy of 85 to 90 years.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

pa plan

this morning, something happened on my way to work. as per normal, my preferred way of commuting to work is by the use of my legs, ie; walking. as i reached the traffic junction of rochor canal walk and jalan sultan, i paused to look out for traffic and from where i was standing, the lights were red, which meant i could cross the traffic junction.

but as i took a step, a light brown bmw saloon car whizzed past me, brushing against my bag slung on my right shoulder. for a moment, i froze in my step. and i was too stunned to gaze in the direction of the vehicle that was speeding away from me.

my comments:

the reputation of the singaporean driver is agruably well known to be aggressive/offensive and what a way for me to experience this personally on an ordinary day while walking to my office. but what this driver did went way above offensiveness because he deliberately drove against the red light and broke the law. my, my, thanks to this driver, i had a close brush with death and who knows, i could have been knocked down just like that and died or even sustained serious injuries.

which just goes to illustrate why life is so fragile, very much like the morning dew which lingers and is gone before u could say jack robinson.

that's why i will always strongly recommend a pa (personal accident) plan as part and parcel of any wealth protection portfolio and is a cost effective way to cover accidents and death due to accidental causes.