Tuesday, May 31, 2011
one of my friends who's considered an advertising guru in the advertising industry shared that one of the first rules of advertising is;
"to tell the truth!".
like it or not, everyday, we are bombarded with advertisements whether through the mainstream media, tv, radio, cinemas, new media, mobile phones, etc.
for example, who could have missed seeing resorts world wrap around ad in the straits times over the weekend that cost the company a cool half a million dollars.
this is an ad that exemplifies telling the truth although it is done with all the bells and whistles.
however, another ad, put forward by travel agency zuji, singapore (please see photo) has met with mixed reactions, some positive and some downright negative. it has riled some consumers to the extent that it was a real turn-off.
yes, is zuji telling the truth in the ad?
perhaps zuji should have chosen a better word like recycled, instead of sewage which brings downright unpleasant images to the mind like the gutter, garbage and so on and so forth.
well, saying it like it is may well be too 'confrontational' for some and even downright offensive to others and that's why in the real world, u win some and u lose some.
which brings to me an analogy of my business and telling the truth to one of my referrals whom i did a comprehensive review (pro bono work) and presenting it to him and his beloved wifey.
is this the very latest 2011 automobile that consumers will flock to the showrooms to view and test drive?
but it's truly significant that asia healthpartners has chosen to install veo, ge healthcare's most advanced ct scanner. the manufacturer also congratulated asia healthpartners being the very first centre in the world to do so.
veo is the world's first model-based iterative reconstruction product that delivers high resolution images, improved low contrast detectability and artefact suppresion at radiation doses as low as 1/8th of its predecessor (lightspeed vct).
with the latest in medical imaging diagnostic equipment, this should translate to clearer and better defined images enabling faster and more accurate diagnosis. more importantly, the veo boasts drastically reduced cumulative dose, benefitting children, women and patients who require regular follow-up ct scans.
for example, european dose limits specify the following:
ct head - 2.3 mSv
ct abdomen - 10 mSv
ct thorax - 8 mSc
in comparison, the veo has the following radiation exposure:
ct head - 0.5 mSv
ct abdomen and pelvis - 0.68 mSv
ct thorax - 0.09 mSv
mSv = milliSievert*
The amount of radiation the `dose' received by people is measured in millisieverts (mSv). This unit belongs to the same family as the litre and kilogram, the most commonly accepted, international system of units.
with more advanced medical imaging diagnostic tools, coupled with the most potent patented drugs will up the ante in terms of accelerating healthcare costs. but on the other side of the equation, it is surely a great boon to enable early detection and early diagnosis of critical illnesses.
that is why insurers here are quick to offer what i term as new generation ci products to give consumers additional protection for early stage critical illnesses and even multiple claims.
for survivors of critical illnesses, they will definitely appreciate the new generation ci products probably more than their fellow homo sapiens because the former will understand it is almost impossible for them to take up additional ci protection policies. this is especially so for cancer survivors because of the high probability of relapse during the first 5 year period after the remission of their cancers.
unfortunately and ironically, i know this all too well because the relapse happened to my beloved younger brother who was just 3 over months short of his 5 year cancer free period and has since passed on to a better place.
the cpf minimum sum will be revised upwards from the current $123k to $131k effective july 01, 2011.
this new minimum sum will apply to CPF members who turn 55 from July 1 2011 to Jun 30 2012 and for those who can set aside the minimum sum in full in cash, can apply to commence monthly payouts of $1,170 when they reach their draw down age.
in the same announcement by the cpf board, there is also another increase for the Medisave Minimum Sum which will also be raised to $36,000, up from $34,500 previously, whereby members will be able to withdraw their Medisave savings in excess of the Medisave Minimum Sum at or after age 55.
and the maximum balance a cpf member may have in his Medisave Account, also known as the Medisave Contribution Ceiling (MCC), is fixed at $5,000 above the Medisave Minimum Sum and this will be increased to $41,000 from july 01, 2011, up from $39,500 previously.
should there be any Medisave contribution in excess of the prevailing Medisave Contribution Ceiling, it will be transferred to the cpf member's Special Account if he/she is below age 55 or to his/her Retirement Account if he/she is above age 55 and has a Minimum Sum shortfall.
the jump in the cpf minimum sum is perhaps not too surprising, given the fact that inflation over the past 12 months have been pretty high compared to the period of low inflation especially after the global financial crisis of 2008.
i reckon that the majority of cpf members will probably not even have met the specified minimum sum, as well as the medisave minimum sum as well.
that is why retirement planning or the lack of it is still pretty prevalent amongst consumers here in our tiny red dot nation.
Monday, May 30, 2011
already, 16 people have been killed and more than 1,000 sick in germany, as well as people from spain, sweden, britain, denmark, france and the netherlands who had recently been in germany*.
*updated as at may 31, 2011.
a scene from a movie about a viral outbreak?
yes, i definitely wish it were so but this is a real life scenario that has happened in germany (and reported in today's edition of the straits times) due to a virulent form of e. coli bacteria seemingly linked to infected cucumbers which has been dubbed as 'killer cucumbers' from spain.
this has led to haemolytic-uraemic syndrome* which affects the blood, kidneys and nervous system and is the largest ever in germany and the biggest of it's kind worldwide.
Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (or haemolytic-uraemic syndrome), abbreviated HUS, is a disease characterized by hemolytic anemia, acute renal failure (uremia) and a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). It predominantly but not exclusively affects children. Most cases are preceded by an episode of diarrhea caused by E. coli O157:H7, which is acquired as a foodborne illness. It is a medical emergency and carries a 5–10% mortality; of the remainder, the majority recover without major consequences but a small proportion develop chronic kidney disease and become reliant on renal replacement therapy. HUS was first defined as a syndrome in 1955.
on this latest outbreak in germany, our ava (agri-food and veterinary authority) of singapore said singapore does not import cucumbers from germany and spain and would place "leafy vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes from germany and spain under hold-and-test, should there be such imports".
drawing an almost similar parallel here will bring to recent memory in may this year where a total of >200 children and teachers were hit by food poisoning using the same caterer, mum's kitchen which had it's licence suspended by the NEA and remains closed for business.
a medical practitioner suggested that the ministry of health and NEA continue to vaccinate all food handlers against salmonella. but mr derek ho (NEA) and dr jeffrey cutter from the ministry of health replied in the forum page of the straits times as to why typhoid jabs won't prevent food poisonin and that food poisioning outbreaks are commonly caused by non-typhoid salmonella and other pathogens.
and because singapore has a very low incidence of typhoid fever and food handlers are not at increased risk of acute typhoid infection even without the typhoid vaccination.
and the mainstay in the control of food-borne diseases will still lie in the maintenance of high standards of food and personal hygiene practices, rather than typhoid vaccination.
however, be that as it may, whenever we dine outside our home, we will always be exposed to the risk of food poisoning and worst, when we travel, like the tourists and citizens who are now in germany, the current outbreak of hus cannot be ignored and has to be taken very seriously because far too many people have already been infected.
and if we look again at all the inherent risks that is part and parcel of life, then the best love letter than we can gift to our family and loved ones should surely be in the form of taking up insurance.
Friday, May 27, 2011
oh no, not another suicide!
according to korean news media, Chae Dong Ha* was found dead at his home this morning and he was believed to have committed suicide.
the news report stated that Chae Dong Ha (채동하) has been suffering depression which could possibly have led to his suicide.
Chae Dong Ha wwas born on june 23, 1981 and is only 29 years young, turning 30 less than a month later this year.
He was a member of a K-pop group called "SG Wannabe" from 2004 to 2008.
most recently, another celeb, song ji-seon, who was a sports announcer on south korean channel mbc, was believed to have committed suicide just 3 days ago.
South Korea could possibly have the highest suicide rate in the world.
In 2009 and 2010, two prominent celebs in the world of south korean showbiz, "Boys Over Flowers" actress Jang Ja-Yeon and "Winter Sonata" actor Park Yong Ha was also reported to have committed suicide.
Chae Dong HaChae Dong Ha (채동하, 蔡東河) was born on June 23, 1981 (died May 27, 2011 aged 29). Chae attended Seoul Institute of the Arts and majored in Broadcasting and Kyung Hee Cyber University for Global Business. He first debuted in 2002 as a solo artist with Na Ture. He was the main vocal and leader for SG Wannabe when the group debuted until he left the group in March 2008 to purse a solo career. After leaving SG Wannabe, he released his second album Essay in 2009. In September 2010, he came back to the music scene with the track "Vanilla Sky" from his ballad single D-Day, which he wrote and composed. Chae was found dead in his apartment on May 27th, 2011, where it seemed he had hung himself.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
there was a recent article with the same title published in the straits times on may 13, 2011.
many of our restaurants now reserve the right to charge a fee if diners do not show up after they have made a reservation.
these restaurants have resorted to such measures citing food wastage and loss of revenue from no-shows, resulting from turning away other customers to accomodate the reservations.
such policies are also common in popular restaurants in countries such as Australia and the United States.
if i have made such a policy of no-shows since my entry into the financial industry some 14 years ago, i would probably have banked in many thousands of dollars into my personal bank account.
yes, the irony of wanting to serve others have also affected me through the collective number of no-shows from my rookie days till present time.
would it be too much to ask or expect of my prospects/referrals/clientele to honour their appointments with me?
it has been widely disseminated through the media that Taiwan's health authorities announced just a few days ago that DEHP* had been found in some bottled beverages and dairy products, and has demanded 168 food processors recall more than 1 million tainted items.
what is even more scary is the fact that the affected products has been exported to many other countries but none (as of this date) to our tiny red dot nation.
there are real health concerns if any of the affected products are consumed and one example is 32-year old ms Huang Jen Chieh who believes she may be a victim of the plasticiser DEHP as she was recently diagnosed with cancer, and suspects it is caused by the contaminated enzyme she has been taking for seven years.
She said: "At first I thought it was a (safe) food product because it had FDA certification, so I was really surprised to find out this could cause cancer."
although there is no direct link that DEHP causes cancer, the announcement of the latest food scandal in taiwan has sent shock waves to consumers in all affected countries.
DEHP has a low vapor pressure, but the temperatures for processing PVC articles are often high, leading to release of elevated levels, raising concerns about health risks (see outgassing). It can be absorbed from food and water. Higher levels have been found in milk and cheese. It can also leach into a liquid that comes in contact with the plastic; it extracts faster into nonpolar solvents (e.g. oils and fats in foods packed in PVC). Food and Drug Administration (FDA) therefore permits use of DEHP-containing packaging only for foods that primarily contain water. In soil, DEHP contamination moves very slowly because of its low solubility in water. Therefore, leaching from disposed plastics in landfills is generally slow. The US EPA limits for DEHP in drinking water is 6 ppb. The U.S. agency OSHA's limit for occupational exposure is 5 mg/m3 of air.
yup, another massive food scandal and this time, originating from taiwan. i'm sure our ava (agri-food and vetinary authority will do their 'homework' to ascertain none of the affected products is found within our shores.
until then, are there any assurances that none of the dehp contaminated food/drinks from taiwan has penetrated our tiny red dot nation? until then, we shall have to await the findings of our ava.
this may be yet another example of the underlying risks in terms of what we take for granted when we ingest food and drinks on a daily basis.
taken collectively, the everyday risks to our health and life can be said to be multi-faceted and multi-fold.
which raises the question of how much is the value of an individual's life and whether the need to insure one's life as well.
obviously for the masses of people, the need is there but the inertia of doing anything is also there.
i hope for yourself and your loved ones' sake, u can overcome the inertia and place importance and priority on wealth protection planning (for a start).
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
one of my clients told me he was saddened to come to know he's no longer covered under his integrated shield plan?
because he has hust received an official letter from the insurer stating:
As we have not receive the outstanding premium to date, we regret to inform you that the integrated shield cover for the above policy number has been terminated with effect from 01 Dec 2010.
If the insured is also covered under the integrated plan and terminating without switching to another insurer or change of plan, you should note the following from the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board.
The insured will continue to be insured under the MediShield scheme with the CPF Board, as long as he is eligible for the scheme. The MediShield cover will be renewed automatically each year after the premium is deducted from the MediSave Account.
all along, for more than 10 years, his son has been footing his dad's premiums from both his medisave account and topping up the difference in premium by paying cash*.
*Medisave can also be used to pay for premiums of these private Medisave-approved Integrated Shield plans, subject to a withdrawal limit of $800 per policy, per year. For policyholders aged 81 and above, the withdrawal limit is $1,150 per policy, per year.
i guess the premiums are now very much higher than more than 10 years ago because his old man is already in his early 80s and will need a higher commitment from the son to pay premiums.
if i look up what is payable for his plan based on his age (early 80s), it is now >$2,000 per annum just for the integrated shield plan alone without the rider. and to cought out more than $1,000 in cash is probably something which the son considers as too much of a commitment.
on this, i have often been told by my clientele when doing retirement planning that their plan A is to rely on their children to take care of them when they reached their retirement age.
well, sadly, this is a classic illustration of a plan A going horribly unexpected or not going the way the plan is supposed to be going.
my point here is, if he has planned for his retirement, than obviously he has a concrete foundation to fall back on.
that's why i'm always ruffled when the person in front of me says he will rely on his child/ren in his golden years.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
one of my favourite food centres is situated near where i live in central singapore. i usually take approximately 15 minutes by walking to reach the place. here, food and drinks are relatively 'cheaper' than most other food places in our tiny red dot nation. for example, a bowl of bak chor noodles is just $2.50, a plate of one of our local die-die must have dishes, the ubiquitous chicken rice is $3.00 with generous slices of either white or roasted chicken with a complimentary bowl of soup with cooked groundnuts. and there are many other food and drinks stalls around offering a very good variety to sastify every palate.
there is one drinks stall that serves excellent local coffee and a large cup of kopi-o kosong costs just $0.60. to me, this is the best tasting local kopi-o that i have tasted in my entire life in singapore.
we should be a pampered lot since there are cleaners to clear the tables after diners have finished their meals, and i happened to notice one of them who is not only extremely hard working but very fast in clearing and cleaning the tables and i chanced to speak to her.
this person is not a singaporean but from mainland china and probably aged late 30s or early 40s (the other cleaners are much, much older in their late 50s, 60s or even higher). she told me life is hard (xin khoo), having to work 14 hours daily and her pay is just over one grand. but she said what to do because she has to support not only herself but her dependents as well (no, i did not inquire as to whom are her dependents).
for me, these are the unsung heros (heroines) who toil to clear the tables almost immediately after we have enjoyed our food/drinks so as to enable others to sit and partake of their meals.
what is my point?
well, this is an example of a group of people who fall into the cracks of really needing insurance but can't afford it.
the truth of the matter is, u and i may be able to put aside, some of our resources ($$$) to take up insurance (if still insurable) but not so for these folks and many others like them.
because for them, every penny counts towards daily living costs and many of them do not even have enough to make ends meet.
so whenever u think life is the pits, please spare a thought for all these unsung heros (heroines) toiling tirelessly just to survive another day and more importantly, have to do so without any form of insurance.
Monday, May 23, 2011
in today's straits times with the same headline, businessman lee khoon bok, 55, who took part in the 100Plus passion run, collapsed and died from a suspected sudden cardiac arrest within 300m from the finishing post near the east coast centre during the 5km run.
2 doctors who were there applied cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the event's medical staff also used an auomated external defibrillator, a portable electronic device to halt arrhythmia.
mr lee was described to be health conscious , a good runner and had been on a healthy diet and exercised regularly since he had been diagnosed to have high blood pressure from a check-up 2 years ago.
mr lee had also been taking part in several 5km runs over the past 2 years as well as jogging regularly more than 5km on weekends.
because of his hypertension, mr lee also checked his blood pressure levels with a home kit every week.
our empathies to the family of the late mr lee.
it is definitely good to be health conscious, be on a regular exercise regime and go on a healthy diet as well as jogging consistently. but all of these even collectively will reap the benefit of lowering the risks from say, heart diseases, heart attack, stroke and so on and so forth.
but in the real world, is there any guarantee of good health?
because everyone is mortal and there is always the certainty of death, at some point of time in the future.
and that's why no one should overlook planning for the worst case scenario against the 3 Ds, premature death, disability and dreaded diseases.
and the added bonus is the peace of mind that comes with doing so because no one knows what tomorrow will bring.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
we have received an email notification from insurers that the ministry of health has been receiving complaints on the unprofessional sales and marketing of medisave-approved insurance products.
the latter is not confined to all of the 5 shield providers namely aia, aviva, great eastern life, ntuc-income and prudential but also includes all eldershield and eldershield supplementary plans offered by aviva, great eastern life and ntuc-income.
for ease of reference and knowledge, the following appendix should serve as a guide:
What are the Medisave-approved Insurance plans?
one example is IncomeShield which is a hospital and surgical plan that helps the insured to reduce financial burden if the insured is hospitalised.
ElderShield, a severe disability insurance, is available for subscription by Singaporeans to risk pool against the financial risks of suffering a severe disability.
Similarly, “ElderShield Supplements”, available from either aviva, great eastern life and ntuc-income allow policyholders to enhance the disability benefits coverage offered by the
basic ElderShield product.
You may wish to go Ministry of Health website (www.moh.gov.sg) to find out more on the
various Medisave-approved plans under the Health Care Financing section.
What you should know about private Integrated Shield Plans?
1) Each insured person can only have one private Integrated Shield Plan at any one time. Once
a new plan has been accepted by a new insurer, the existing plan will be automatically
2) Pre-existing conditions will not be covered under the new plan. You should advise your
clients to remain with their current insurer for any upgrade of their private Integrated Shield Plans, so that any pre-existing condition will still be covered under the existing plan, subject to underwriting of the insurer.
3) You need to clearly explain to your clients that rider is a separate plan and not MOH approved or CPF-approved product. The premium for the rider is payable by Cash.
What you should know about ElderShield?
1) Each insured person can only have one ElderShield at any one time. The insured person
needs to terminate the existing ElderShield before taking up a new plan with a new insurer.
2) You need to advise your clients to remain with their current insurer for their ElderShield if their ElderShield coverage has commenced because:
• Clients are subjected to underwriting when they apply for a “replacement”
ElderShield. This implies that they may end up without any ElderShield coverage if they
are medically uninsurable.
• Clients have to pay a higher premium because an older entry age.
3) You need to inform your clients that ElderShield Supplements, available from either aviva, great eastern life and ntuc-income are seperate plans and not MOH-approved or CPF-approved product. Clients may take up multiple ElderShield Supplements from different insurers.
i've always advocated that no one should be without a comprehensive H&S plan and one effective cost-effective solution can be found in an Integrated Shield Plan and rider (optional).
and for those who are 40 years of age and older, there is always an ElderShield and ElderShield Supplementary plan.
but surprising or not, the ministry of health has shared with all insurers that they have been receiving complaints on the unprofessional sales and marketing of medisave approved insurance plans.
my position is this, if u already have an integrated shield plan and or a eldershield and eldershield supplementary plan, then it may not be in your interests to switch to another provider.
but i'll also concede there may be reasons to switch, provided this is entirely justified and must always be in your interests to do so.
i suspect the moh's disclosure to our insurers are not just sharing for the sake of sharing and there may be many cases where the sale and marketing of medisave approved insurance products are:
a. not in the consumers' interests and
b. done without full discolsure.
therefore, do be warned that the principle of caveat emptor still applies here.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
well, would u believe today is judgement day and the end of the world and that kind of thingy! which brings to my mind, ms skeeter davis's, best known pop classic, the end of the world from the year that was several decades ago, in the year 1963.
this is according to one mr harold camping, 89, a retired civil engineer who has a multimillion-dollar christian media empire.
He has also predicted judgment days on May 21, 1988, and September 7, 1994.
i don't know why there will always be attempts by anyone to predict when our world will be coming to an end because Jesus himself says no one except the Father knows when the world will end as quoted in Mark, Chapter 13, verse 32 which says:
"but about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
it is truly sad that many will choose to believe in all of these doomsday predictions and some will even drop everything and head for the hills to await the coming of the end of the world.
an analogy on the end of the world thingy which i shall illustrate is seeing many people here live like there is no tomorrow and worst, borrowing everything they can to the hilt to finance their conspicious lifestyle.
i have always been asked who is my competition and the answer is rather obvious (or not so obvious).
you may guess it should be the life insurance tied agency, bancassurance, direct channel or even priority and private banking, right?
well, honestly no. i hold the view that my competitor has and will always be this thingy which i term, conspicious consumption. this is especially so because we are living in an age of instant gratification or 'i must have it syndrome'; whether it is to see the world, eating and dressing well or aspiring to own the 5Cs, which is all too seductive because the latter displaces wealth protection planning from occupying the topmost priority.
but i will continue to soldier on (by God's grace)........
Friday, May 20, 2011
another new craze has just hit town and i'm of course referring to the indulgence of planking.
for the uninitiated, planking is lying face down, with a straight body, hands by their sides and toes pointing to the ground in any public place - the stranger the better - and posting photos in a social networking site, usually facebook.
is planking new?
well, not exactly, if the claims by two groups who invented this kind of 'activity' is true. one group in somerset in the year 2000 and the other, 8 years later in south australia.
"Planking was a term myself and two other mates came up with roughly in the summer of 2008 or 2009," says 25 year-old Sam Weckert, a carpenter living in South Australia.
but planking comes with high risks as there was the reported death of a man in his 20s in australia who fell from a balcony railing in brisbane as he was being photographed by his friend.
for insurance policies, an exclusion in the form of taking part in activities that are deemed to be high risk may include hunting, caving, potholing, mountaineering or rock climbing necessitating the use of guides or ropes, underwater activities involving the use of underwater breathing apparatus (other than undertaken for leisure purposes), sky diving, hang-gliding, paragliding or parachuting, trekking trips or expeditions (unless otherwise agreed by us), motor rallies or any kind of racing other than on foot or any sports in a professional capacity.
my opinion is that if planking 'catches on', this may be another activity to be included under policy exclusions.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
today's edition of the straits times with the abovementioned title carried an article of our competition watchdog, the competition commission of singapore (ccs) which identified a total of 11 modelling agencies that came together from 2005 to 2009 to set and raise prices charged for the hiring of models.
just last week, 16 maid agencies were also singled out for allegedly colluding to increase the pay of new indonesian maids.
the modelling agencies have been asked to present their arguments before the ccs makes a final judgement and they have until june 20, 2011 to prove their innocence, failing which they will face a fine of up to 10 percent of their annual turnover for a maximum of three years.
in my 14 years in the financial industry and with regard to insurance companies, i observed that the pricing of certain life insurance products have been regularly re-priced to the advantage of consumers here. generally, the pricing of most basic term and mrta (mortgage reducing term assurance) products continue to head south and premiums remain non-reviewable and guaranteed.
obviously, competition has been keen amongst our insurers to drive pricing to even lower margins but the consumer is king (or queen).
one significant example is the recpriced tokio marine life insurance's term product, tm peace of mind (rp) which was launched in january 2011.
currently, this may be the most competitive* term product avaialble and i will not be surprised that pricing of term products will continue to be ultra competitive but i am thinking aloud whether which insurer will be next to cut the pricing of their term products.
*disclaimer - terms and conditions apply
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
on this auspicious occasion, i would like to wish all buddhists a very happy vesak day*.
Vesākha (Pali; Sanskrit: Vaiśākha वैशाख) is an annual holiday observed traditionally by Buddhists in the Indian subcontinent, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the South East Asian countries of Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, and Indonesia.
Monday, May 16, 2011
today, after giving a motivation talk at our company's monthly compulsory business meeting, i rushed to aviva's office in dbs tower to attend the official launch of their latest insurance product, aviva lifetime flexi?
what is aviva lifetime flexi?
Saturday, May 14, 2011
just the other day, one of my advisors queried me on the tpd coverage offered by our life insurers in singapore.
advisor: pat, is there any insurer that offers tpd coverage but does not come with the
myself : what do u mean when u say the standard definitions for tpd?
advisor: well, you know, the usual definitions?
myself : do u mean the following definitions*?
2.1 “Total and Permanent Disability” means disability which is total and permanent
and persists continuously for at least six (6) months, with the Life Assured or Life
Assured who is first (in the event of there being more than one (1) Life Assured)
incapable of performing any work or engaging in any occupation or profession to
earn or obtain wages, compensation or profit, from the time when the disability
2.2 Total and irrecoverable:
(a) loss of the sight of both eyes; or
(b) loss of sight of one (1) eye and loss by severance or loss of use of one
(1) limb at or above the ankle or wrist; or
(c) loss by severance or loss of use of:
(i) both hands at or above the wrists; or
(ii) both feet at or above the ankles; or
(iii) one (1) hand at or above the wrist and one (1) foot at or above
the ankle will also be considered "Total and Permanent Disability".
*extracted from aviva supplementary benefit for Total & Permanent Disability Benefit policy document.
advisor: yes, this should be the usual tpd definition. is there any insurer with a different tpd definition?
myself : well, aviva my protector - level and decreasing term as well as the newly launched aviva lifetime flexi offers an additional tpd definition by which if the life insured is unable to perform 3 out of 6 ADLs shall be considered to have "Total & Permanent Disability".*
the 6 ADLs are:
(a) Transferring – the ability to move from a bed to an upright chair or wheelchair and
(b) Mobility – the ability to move indoors from room to room on level surfaces;
(c) Toileting – the ability to use the lavatory or otherwise manage bowel and bladder
functions so as to maintain a satisfactory level of personal hygiene;
(d) Dressing – the ability to put on, take off, secure and unfasten all garments and, as
appropriate, any braces, artificial limbs or other surgical appliances;
(e) Washing – the ability to wash in the bath or shower (including getting into and out
of the bath or shower) or wash satisfactorily by other means;
(f) Feeding – the ability to feed oneself once food has been prepared and made
but there is one other insurer with a unique defintion of total and permanent disability with 2 different definitions. the first definition is for those under age 65 years:
Confirmation by a Medical Practitioner appointed or approved by the Company's Chief Medical Officer, of the permanent inability, through illness or accident, to perform at least two of the following activities of daily working. The inability to perform an activity shall only be valid if the help of another person is needed to perfrom the function even when using appropriate assistive aids and appliances.
The activities of daily working are:
• Walking – the ability to walk more than 200 metres on the flat without stopping or severe discomfort.
• Bending – the ability to get into or out of a standard saloon car, or the ability to bend or kneel to pick up a tea cup from the floor and straighten up again.
• Communications – the ability to answer the telephone and take a message.
• Reading – having the eyesight required to be able to read a daily newspaper.
• Writing – having the physical ability to write legibly using a pen or pencil.
and the other definition applies to those age 65 years or over:
Confirmation by a Medical Practitioner appointed or approved by the Company's Chief Medical Officer, of the permanent inability, through illness or accident, to perform at least four of the following activities of daily living. The inability to perform an activity shall only be valid if the help of another person is needed to perform the function even when using appropriate assistive aids and appliances.
The activities of daily living are:
(i) Feeding/Eating: Cutting meat, buttering bread, getting food and drink to the mouth using fingers or utensils.
(ii) Dressing: Dressing oneself including fastening zips and buttons, getting clothes from wardrobes and drawers.
(iii) Bathing/Grooming: Turning on taps, getting in and out of bath/shower, washing face/hands, etc. drying oneself, combing hair.
(iv) Toileting: Moving into and out of the bathroom, getting on and off the toilet unaided, recognising the need or uge to void bladder or bowel in time to get to the toilet.
(v) Mobility/Transfer: Getting into and out of bed, transferring from one place to another, e.g. chair or bed, chair to standing, chair to chair.
(vi) Walking/Using a wheelchair: Moving from one location to another - walking or using an umpowered wheelchair propelled by the Relevant Life Insured or using frame.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
an important announcement from the website of the ministry of health
With effect from 1 July 2011, patients will be able to use their Medisave for mammograms to screen for breast cancer and colonoscopies for colorectal cancers. This will help make the screening tests more affordable and accessible to Singaporeans.
2. In March this year, the Ministry of Health accepted the screening guidelines recommended by the Screening Test Review Committee from The Academy of Medicine Singapore. These guidelines enable patients to make informed decisions on the suitability of the various screening tests based on their age and risk profile.
Screening for Breast Cancer
3. The Committee, headed by Professor Lee Hin Ping, highly recommends that women between the ages of 50 to 69 go for regular mammograms every two years to screen against breast cancer.
4. Under the Medisave300 Scheme, patients can withdraw up to $300 from their Medisave account per year to defray cost of their mammograms. Close to 450 000 women will benefit from this extension in Medisave usage. Mammograms costs about $100. Subsidies are also available for Singapore citizens and PRs at participating BreastScreen Singapore providers.
Screening for Colorectal Cancer
5. Colorectal cancer is one of the top cancer killers in Singapore. The Committee recommends that persons aged 50 and older screen regularly for colorectal cancer, through either (a) annual stool analysis using the Faecal Immunohistochemistry Test (FIT), or (b) a screening colonoscopy every ten years.
6. As colonoscopy is a surgical operation, it should only be carried out by qualified specialists. For those who are fit and are recommended by their doctors to undergo such a procedure, Medisave can be used to reduce out-of-pocket costs. The withdrawal limit will be pegged at the prevailing withdrawal limit for day surgery procedures, at $950 for colonoscopy, and $300 per day for associated daily hospital charges. There are about 1 million Singaporeans aged 50 and above who will benefit from this change.
while i'm for extending medisave being funnelled to more uses, my concern is the faster depletion of the funds in the medisave account which are meant to last for one's lifetime.
because medisave is also allowed (since 2007) to to be used to pay premiums for eldershield supplements with a cap of up to $600.00 per person per year. this is in addition to using medisave to pay the premium for any medisave approved integrated shield plan of up to $800.00 per person per year and for those aged 81 years and above, the cap has been increased to $1,150.00 per person per year.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
today's edition of the straits times carried a report where a former aia agent, ms sally low ai ming, aged 34 years, is facing fraud and cheating charges, 4 of cheating, 11 for fraudulent use of forged documents and 4 of moving crime proceeds to bank accounts and to partially pay for a property.
all this came about from a police report more than a year ago by a customer, mr ong han ling, 72, who bought a fake 'AIA thank you" policy from ms sally low in november 2002 and remitted US$5.06 million to the latter.
ms sally was a former top agent in AIA and earned more than $300,000.00 in annual commissions from new policies in 1999 and 2000 but was sacked by AIA in septermber 2009.
i remember many years ago how one of my company's advisers came back with a bag of $$$ and recounted that he was fearful for his life should he meet with an attempt to rob him on his way from from his client's place to our office.
apparently, his client is a chinese businessman who paid his single premium policy in cold hard cash which came to a high five figure amount.
not only is accepting cash for payment of premium, both cumbersome and administratively inefficent, ii may also be extremely dangerous for our adviser to collect it and transport it back to our office.
therefore, after this episode, our office has disallowed accepting cash for payment of premium many, many years ago and this simple rule will always ensure that our clientele's insurance policies will be incepted and kept-in-force for their peace of mind and ours.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
the following letter is published in the forum page of today's the straits times:
May 10, 2011
Insurance body criticises Grace Fu's analogy
WE ARE disturbed by Senior Minister of State (Education and National Development) Grace Fu's comments during a rally speech at the Jurong East Stadium, in which she likened opposition parties to insurance agents who show up once every five years ('Opposition rapped for likening politics to soccer'; last Tuesday).
Her statement stereotypes insurance practitioners as superficial salespeople with short-term financial motives.
The Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore (Ifpas) represents some 4,000 practitioners of life insurance and financial services. We reinforce the fact that as licensees of the Financial Advisers Act under the Monetary Authority of Singapore, insurance practitioners here, who include Ifpas members, adhere to a strict set of professional regulations and guidelines in the conduct of our business.
It is unfortunate that the analogy of a respectable minister has compromised a profession upheld by 13,000 Singaporeans, holding a stake in the country's growth and development.
Much as we all know that black sheep exist in the midst of our members, we need to reiterate that there are professionals who disburse good advice, and clients who work with such members have benefited from the services provided.
In the light of the above, we hope Singaporeans who attended the rally or read the report will not have a tainted view of the insurance industry because of Ms Fu's disparaging remarks.
Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore
the latest news from the general insurance association of singapore:
NEW PRE-REPAIR INSPECTION REQUIREMENT
We wish to inform you of an important change in procedures concerning the repair of motor vehicles involved in an accident.
From 1 May 2011, motorists making property damage claims to their vehicles must now give the potential defendants (i.e. the owner/s of the other vehicle/s involved in the motor accident) or their insurers an opportunity to inspect the damages to the vehicle, prior to the commencement of repairs. The potential defendant’s insurers, upon receipt of notification on the location of the damaged vehicle, will conduct a pre-repair inspection on the damaged vehicle within 2 working days from the time of notification, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
If the potential defendant’s insurer has however, waived the requirement for the pre-repair inspection, the claimants may proceed with the repairs. Under the Sub Courts Protocol, the potential defendant or his insurer will also have to compensate the claimant for loss of use of the vehicle for the period of the pre-repair inspection.
We also wish to highlight that claimants who proceed to repair their vehicles without first notifying the potential defendant or without allowing the pre-repair inspection to be carried out, may find that the Courts can impose sanctions as to costs on the claimants.
This pre-repair inspection requirement has been mandated by the Sub Courts under the Pre-action Protocol for Non-Injury Motor Accident Cases. It is also a key recommendation of the Motor Insurance Task Force, which is co-chaired by the Presidents of CASE and AA Singapore.
We therefore seek your understanding and cooperation to observe this new change so as not to prejudice your claim against third parties.
this is the new rule by the motor insurance taskforce* to reduce or even eliminate (hopefully) inflated and fraudulent claims. in other words, motorists who intend to file 3rd party insurance claims will now have to contact the other driver's insurer before getting their vehicles repaired. the other driver's insurer will have up to 48 hours to inspect the damaged vehicle and if it fails to do so, it will automatically waive it's right to contest the claim.
*members of the motor insurance taskforce = general insurance association of singapore, consumers association of singapore, the automobile association of singapore, the land transport authority, the traffic police and the monetary authority of singapore.
but this new rule which came into effect on may 01, 2011 will only apply to 3rd party claims and has the backing of the subordinate court.
this scheme effectively cuts down on the waiting time where insurers are often informed of claims many weeks or even months after the accident and also shortens the time before repairs can commence as this new rule sort of forces the other party's insurer to inspoect the damaged vehicle more promptly.
hopefully, the new rule will settle clear cut cases more speedily, reduce inflated and fraudulent claims and stem rising motor premiums.
if we go by last year's figures, motor claims amounted to $767 million which includes $11.6 million due to flood damage which means the sum would be nearer the $742 million posted 3 years ago. this is noteworthy as there are now more cars on the road than 2008.
and the taks force will meet again soon to finalise other recommendations.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
as is my custom every election night (for as long as i can remember), i stayed up to watch the results and at 0212 hours, when mr yam ah mee, the elections returning officer announced the winners of the aljunied grc, i was saddened to hear that my facebook friend, mr george yeo and his team has not been given the mandate to return to parliament again.
after the announcement, mr george yeo was ever gracious in deafeat and addressed his supporters;
"It was a great campaign, we fought hard, we have no regrets," he said, thanking residents for their support, affection and friendship. "We respect the decision of the people of Aljunied."
"I hope Mr Low Thia Khiang and his colleagues will look after the people of Aljunied well and we wish them every success," said Mr Yeo.
i believe mr george yeo's selfless devotion in serving not only his country but his own constituents for the past 23 years since he entered politics in 1988 at the age of 34 years speaks for itself.
and to quote senior minister s. jayakumer (representing our pm) who is attending the annual 2 day ASEAN leaders' summit:
"nearly everyone i spoke to - ASEAN ministers and the leaders - were saddened and disappointed and surprised to know that foreign minister george yeo has lost. why were they saddened? because to them, george yeo has been a very articulate; able spokesman for singapore."
even ms nicole seah from the opposition camp lavished her praise for mr george yeo and i quote;
Saturday, May 7, 2011
today is a watershed day for singapore as all singaporeans*, young and old, will be going to the polls to cast their vote on who they want to represent them in parliament. this election sees 15 Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) and 12 Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) but only one, the Tanjong Pagar GRC, led by MM Lee Kuan Yew, being uncontested has led to a walkover.
a total of slightly more than 2.211 million singaporeans will exercise their collective votes to give their mandate to the candidates of any of the 7 political parties to govern our tiny red dot island for the next 5 days. many will be voting for the first time and one in four or approximately 600,000 voters will be between the ages of 21 and 35.
*generally, singaporeans who are at least 21 years of age on january 01, 2011 and residing in singapore. aditionally, persons whose names are found in the current register of electors of a contested constituency, will receive via mail to their latest NRIC address, a poll card informing them of polling day and where they can cast their votes in person.
voting overseas is available for Singapore citizens abroad who have been registered as overseas electors. They may cast their votes at the overseas polling stations allotted to them.
voters must vote wisely because every single vote counts and there can be no turning back the clock once the vote has been cast.
which is similar to buying insurance.
primarily because taking up insurance comes with the commitment to pay premiums over a very long term time horizon.
i know of many consumers who have not exercised the right choices and is living with the belief that they have, and in their own words, 'been over-insured.'
some of these examples are:
one is a private banker family with 2 young daughters paying more than $30,000.00 in annual premiums and yet, does not even have the most fundamental insurance which is a comprehensive h&s plan. this family has chosen to stay with the employer's group h&s plan which at best is not even comparable to an 'as-charged' shield plan with most in-patient benefits dollar-capped.
another high net-worth businessman told me he's overinsured only for me to find out his $5 million dollar coverage rests on a personal accident plan without any other insurance coverage.
and yet another successful female entrepreneur in her late 50s has sole reliance on her husband's group term coverage.
and so on and so forth.
i get the chills everytime i think of this group of people without any comprehensive wealth protrection planning but then, this is why i'm in the business and it is my stated mission to reach out to 'save' as many individuals and families as possible.
the life insurance industry recorded a total of $460 million in weighted* new business premiums, continuing the uptrend from closing the previous year on a high note. this figure represented a high 45% increase over the correspondig quarter in 2010.
* The weighted new business premium figure is calculated as follows:
10% SPI + 100% API with adjustment for premium payment terms of less than
on the latest statistics, the president of the life insurance association of singapore, mr tan hak leh said:
"Robust growth for the industry has come on the back of strong consumer confidence. The economy is in good shape and we are optimistic that the life insurance industry will remain strong throughout the rest of 2011."
Some Other Highlights (January to March 2011)
Tied agents contributed to nearly half of the new business, bringing in 48 per cent of weighted new business sales for the first quarter of the year.
New business sold through banks gained notable ground, registering 37 per cent of sales for the current quarter, up by 14 percentage points from that achieved in the same period of previous year. This is a record high in five years. Financial Advisers contributed 12 per cent of sales whilst other channels, which include direct sales, made up the remaining 3 per cent.
Of the new sales, participating ("par") products accounted for 57 per cent while non-par products accounted for 21 per cent. Investment-linked products made up the remaining 22 per cent.
Up to end March 2011, the life insurance industry paid out a total of $1.39 billion to policyholders and beneficiaries. Of this, $88 million was in respect of death, critical illness or disability claims whilst the remaining $1.30 billion was for policies that matured.
Friday, May 6, 2011
recently, it was reported that hackers has successfully breached sony's network and accessed personal data fro more than 100 million of it's online video game users. and with it, there is a question of the hackers' obtaining some 12.3 milllion credit card numbers during the hacking.
on april 19, 2011, sony noticed unauthorised activity and reported this to the united states federal bureau of investigation on april 22, 2011.
now, sony is looking to it's insurers to pay for this massive breach of data and one expert estimates this figure could exceed us$2 billion.
according to a sony spokesman, mr dan race who told reuters;
"we have a variety of types of insurance that cover damages."
but mr race refused to disclose who were their insurers or whether there was a cap on the size of the payout.
it is good to know that sony corp has confirmed that the company has a variety of type of insurers that cover damages which may include cyber breach.
mr zeiler, a director of security and compliance for american internet services, said the insurers may try to blame sony for negligence for failing to properly secure it's data centres.
but if sony has properly secure all of it's data centres, this is one significant point in it's favour.
but my point is, without insurance, sony may be facing a big bill that experts estimate could exceed us$2 billion.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
today, i have the blessing and privilege to be amongst the 30 winners in the guided tour of shaw's soft opening of the renovated, revamped and refreshed lido theatres as in this email notification which i received the day before:
Dear Patrick Lim,
Congratulations! You are our lucky winner for the invite.
The invite is STRICTLY NON-TRANSFERABLE and valid for you (1 person) only.
It’s finally here!
Come preview the world’s most immersive 3D movie-going experience, exclusively at Shaw Theatres Lido
After a 7-month overhaul, iconic Shaw Theatres Lido will be opening its doors with brand new offerings – a total of 11 halls including one featuring Singapore’s first and only IMAX’s Digital Theatre System! With exceptionally bright images and unparalleled 3D effect, Shaw Theatres LIDO IMAX promises audience an immersive and engaging cinematic experience.
You’re cordially invited to join us for a tour of the brand new Shaw Theatres Lido and a preview of the breathtaking The IMAX 3D Experience!
# # #
Details as follows
Date: Thursday, 5 May 2011
Time: Strictly - 10.30 AM (Registration)
Venue: Level 5, Shaw Theatres Lido
(350 Orchard Road, Shaw House Level 5, Singapore 238868)
10.30am – Registration at LIDO Lobby + Issue of IMAX Badge
(Please print out and produce this email together with your NRIC for registration)
11.00am – Guided Shaw LIDO Theatre Tour
11.15am – Showcase of IMAX trailers at LIDO IMAX
11.30am – Back at Shaw LIDO Lobby
Redemption of IMAX Goodie Bag
Distribution of invite to Special Surprise Screening
**The invite to Special Surprise Screening is not exchangeable for other sessions.
11.40am – Free Instant Photo taking by Canon
A group Instant Photo Canon Shot of all 30 winners
An individual Instant Photo Canon Shot
Shaw Theatres Lido will be having its soft launch to public on 5th May 2011 with the exception of the LIDO IMAX hall which will launch on 16 May 2011 at the Grand Opening.
**Please note that this invite is strictly a one–off guided tour and registration closes by 10:50am.
**Uncollected IMAX Goodie Bag & invite at the stated time of collection will be forfeited.
** The prizes are not exchangeable for cash or items, in part or in full.
Press Release on reopening of LIDO THEATRES, here.
Shaw Online Webmaster
i was especially keen on getting into the imax movie immersion first hand experience because i have been waiting patiently since the old lido closed it's doors after the last screening on september 30, 2010.
and was the wait worth it?
yes, definitely two thumbs up, and u have to experience it yourself. if u think 3D is awesome, then imax 3D will blow u away with the latest state-of-the-art movie immersion with stunningly clear images and sounds.
and the cost of getting an imax experience?
it ranges from $17.00 to $22.00 with the first hollywood blockbuster, pirates of the caribbean, on stranger tides scheduled to open on may 19, 2011. i'm also waiting for dreamworks animation's kung fu panda 2, jjabram/steven spielberg's sci-fi thriller, super 8, and paramount's transfomers, dark of the moon. all of these movies will be in imax 3D except for jjabram/steven spielberg's super 8 which will be in regular 2D because of director jjabram not into 3D.
the imax theatre seats 420 but because of getting the best from the imax immersion mainly from the state-of-the-art sound system and the gigantic 3 storey high screen, seating will be restricted to just 319.
what has imax got to do with insurance?
well, speaking for myself (and i'm sure for the other 29 movie buffs in the guided tour), i do not mind opening my wallet for the imax experience (which is more than 2x the price of a regular 2D ticket) but sadly, many thousands of consumers are paying more than they should for taking up insurance policies.
this is significantly so for plain vanilla term products (coverage is usually for death and total and permanent disabiity which may include terminal illness as well) where pricing can be as different as night and day.
why would anyone pay more for a homogenous product with similar benefits especially when the singaporean is legendary in hunting for the best bargains in our tiny red dot nation?
and that's why i have always advocated that consumers should seek a second or even third opinion when shopping around for insurance products but more importantly, do a financial needs analysis and regular review of their wealth protection portfolio before buying any what i term as 'flavour of the month' insurance product which may be heavily promoted and more saleable due to bundling with the so-called freebies.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
during the current hustings, is it any surprise that the opposition has harped on the issue of healthcare costs in singapore. in fact, one opposition party, the singapore democratic party proposed that the healthcare budget should be raised to $10 billion from the current $4 billion.
and there was also the highlight that our health minister, mr khaw boon wan's expenditure of just $8.00 for his heart by-pass last year, which hinted on abusing the healthcare system for his very own benefit.
mr khaw has come out to clarify that the sum referred to his own out-of-pocket expenses and not for the total bill which amounted to some $25,000.00 which included a week's stay in a Class A ward and was settled with his own MediShield and MediSave account.
i'm happy our health minister, mr khaw boon wan has further clarified on the actual numbers with regard to his in-patient heart by-pass bill of $25,000.00 and definitely not just $8.00.
because many would have had the mistaken belief that it costs just $8.00 for a major heart sugery and a week's stay in a Class A ward.
is mr khaw's total bill of $25,000.00 an insignificant sum?
if u are a multi-millionaire or top tier income earner, your answer may be different but to the masses of people here, it may still be a pretty big bill to them.
and that's why one of the best cost-effective way to hedge present and future healthcare costs (which tend to rise the fastest) is never to go without an integrated shield plan which is medisave approved. but the use of Medisave is subject to a limit of $800 per insured person, per policy year for insured members below 81 years old (age next birthday). for insured members 81 years old (age next birthday) and above, the withdrawal limit for premiums is $1,150 per insured person, per policy year from 1 December 2008.
if u are still out of the integrated shield circle, and still insurable, surely, you owe it to yourself (and your loved ones) to come under this essential umbrella.
Monday, May 2, 2011
our free tabloid, today carried seperate face-to-face interviews with 2 of the youngest rookie pap and nsp candidates for marine parade grc, ms tin pei ling and ms nicole seah.
one of the questions asked was constituents above the age of 50 being most worried about, and their responses were:
Ms Tin: There are two things. One is in terms of the infrastrucure. The elderly are physically older, so the way they move is slower and they need a lot of care and attention. We need to make sure that their access to amenties and facilties is easy. In Macpherson we have done a lot of upgrading in the past years, and we have almost completed all the barrier-free access across Macperhson to help our elderly move around, interact with people and better use the facilities and services. The other thing is to help them cope with the cost of living. Many are retired or retiring. Especially those who are retired, they have no source of income. A lot of them come from lower income families so they are also struggling to make ends meet. So financially, it can be a challenge. I think these are the two areas of concern. It is not just in Macpherson, but nationally as well.
Ms Seah: After doing our rounds the feedback we have gotten is that old people are very worried about falling ill. I think they are starting to recognise that healthcare costs are getting more and more exorbitant in Singapore. As a result they are very afraid to fall sick and be a burden to their families. On top of that the rising cost of living is another issue. This eats into their daily expenses for their very staple necessities, like the food they need to eat at the hawker centres, things like that. So I think that they do feel the pinch that has arisen from the recent inflation and tax increases.
i think both pei ling and nicole are equally on the spot with their answers because amongst the elderly, the risk of ill-health and falling ill is arguably, much higher than those who are in the younger age groups and there should be more infrastructure to allow freer access and mobility especially for those who are physically challenged.
and in terms of healthcare costs, the government's comprehensive 3Ms (medisave, medishield and medifund) framework is already in-place. on a more holistic perspective, there's severe disability coverage to consider as well which our government has rolled-out in september 2002 via the eldershield program and the eldershield reform in late 2007.
but on medishield, there is still a significant risk in terms of the coverage which is only up to age 85 and for those who have already lived passed their mid-80s will have slipped through the cracks if they have no other h&s plan to fall back on.
until there are further enhancements to the current medishield plan with a key one being lifetime coverage, my recommendation will still be to look into taking up an integrated shield plan from any of the 5 shield providers.
and if we were to narrow down to premiums and the risk of future affordability to pay premiums, perhaps the one shield provider with the most options is ntuc-income with the most comprehensive range of plans in their stable.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
today's blog is a salute to all working people throughout the world and especially to our very own working population. according to wikipedia, may 1st, popularly known as may day or international workers' day is observed as a national holidy in more than 80 countries and also celebrated unofficially in many other countries as well.