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Home Insurance 101: Lessons Learnt When My Wife Tried To Set Me On Fire

5 min read

Not long ago, I walked into my kitchen and noticed that there was a used frying pan on the hob.

“Ah… The wife must’ve cooked something earlier and will clean that up after her shower,” I thought.

Thinking nothing of it, I headed out to the living room, sank into the sofa and decided to check out Seedly’s Q&A on my phone (Shameless plug here. But seriously, check it out. There’re plenty of interesting questions and pretty good answers to all things personal finance related. Especially since we’re all too paiseh to ask for help in real life).

A couple of minutes later, I smelt something burning.

Instinctively, I ran to the kitchen, noticed that the pan was smoking, picked it up and started dousing it with water in the sink. Looking at the hob, I quickly put together what happened.

Dog Thinking
Source: knowyourmeme

When we cook our eggs, we usually lower the flame to keep it from overcooking the yolk. This time, however, my wife forgot that the burner was still lit and attempted to burn me alive decided to take a shower after she was done with cooking.

I did the next most logical thing: I put on my angel wings from Halloween 2016, walked into the master bedroom, and pretended to be a spectre contacting her from the afterlife.

“Woooo…”, me floating around.

“Eh, what’re you doing sia?” said the murderous clueless wife towelling dry her hair.

“Oh? This? Just saying hello from the other side… After you tried to BURN me alive!”

After I explained what happened, she apologised and asked, “Eh, by the way, we have fire insurance right?”

Which got me thinking…

Guy Thinking With Tea Cup
Source: knowyourmeme

DO WE?


TL;DR: Oh Lord Jesus, It’s A Fire

  • Fire insurance only covers the cost of reinstating damaged internal structures, fixtures, as well as areas built and provided by HDB
  • Home insurance covers damage and theft to home contents, alternative accommodation, compensation for damage to your neighbour’s home and more
  • The cheapest home insurance plan for HDB: NTUC Income’s Enhanced Home Standard Insurance ($51.36 per year)
  • The home insurance plan for HDB, with the best value: AIG Enhanced Public Housing Contents Insurance ($70.62 per year)

Do I Have Fire Insurance For My HDB BTO?

Yes. Well… Kind of.

Under the mandatory HDB Fire Insurance Scheme, I currently have fire insurance that is undertaken by Etiqa Insurance Pte Ltd.

And why is this mandatory?

According to HDB, all “flat owners with HDB loans commencing on or after 1 September 1994 must buy and renew the HDB fire insurance for your homes, for as long as you have an outstanding HDB loan”.

This fire insurance is also valid for 5 years at a time and has to be renewed once every 5 years.

Here’s how much the 5-year premium (including 7% GST) costs for the various HDB flat types:

Flat Type5-Year Premium (with 7% GST)Sum Insured
1-Room$1.50$19.300
2-Room/ 2-Room Flexi$2.50$26,300
3-Room$4.50$41,800
4-Room$5.50$69,100
5-Room$6.60$75,600
Executive/ Multi-Generation Flats$7.50$98,200
Studio Apartment (Type A)$3.50$29,000
Studio Apartment (Type B)$4.00$37,200

Since my place is a 4 room HDB BTO…

Ken's Home Living Room
Pictured Above: My living room not on fire

It costs a grand total of $5.50 for 5 years.

If you’re going, “Wah… So cheap sia…”

That’s because this fire insurance only covers the cost of reinstating damaged internal structures, fixtures, as well as areas built and provided by HDB. It does not include home contents such as furniture, renovations, and personal belongings.

Yeah… So all of the wife’s beloved plants and that LED TV that I love so much? They’re not covered by HDB’s fire insurance if that frying pan and I went up in flames.

What’s The Difference Between Home Insurance And Fire Insurance?

I’ve established earlier that most HDB owners like you and I, have HDB Fire Insurance.

However, HDB Fire Insurance does NOT protect the contents of my home such as

  • Furniture, like my comfortable grey sofa
  • Appliances, like my LED TV, or
  • Personal belongings like my collection of Power Range… Erm… I mean. My book collection of rare First Editions.
My Living Room On Fire
Pictured Above: My living room on fire while none of it is covered by HDB’s Fire Insurance

So if you want protection for all of that, that’s where home insurance comes in.

What Types Of Home Insurance Are Available?

Hands Holding A House

Convinced that I need to look at getting home insurance on top of my mandatory HDB Fire Insurance, I did a little digging and found out that a typical home insurance will cover:

  • Building fixtures, fittings, and renovations (eg. my wife’s custom made walk-in wardrobe) if they are damaged
  • Home contents (eg. fridge, washing machine, TV and etc.) if they are damaged or stolen

While more comprehensive home insurance (more expensive) will cover stuff like:

  • Alternative accommodation if your home becomes “uninhabitable” due to a major incident like a fire
  • Compensation for damage to your neighbour’s home from a burst pipe or fire
  • Debris clearance
  • Personal accident coverage for you and your family (eg. medical expenses, payouts for accidental death and disability)
  • Personal effects, including loss of money and valuables in the event of theft or a break-in
  • Personal liability – protects you as a renter if your landlord holds you accountable because your cat broke one of her expensive ceramic vases
Cat Pushing Stuff Off Table
Source: tenor

On top of this, I’ll need to choose between an Insured Peril Policy, provides coverage against losses from specified incidents such as fire, explosion, theft, and natural disasters. Or an All Risks Policy which provides wider coverage except for named exclusions listed in the policy. The latter’s obviously more expensive due to its wider coverage.

And just in case you’re wondering, I also found out that because the majority of Singaporean HDB dwellers already have fire insurance, home insurance policies are designed to complement instead of overlap with your existing fire coverage. So you don’t have to worry about overpaying for the same coverage.

Best Home Insurance Plans In Singapore

So which is the best home insurance plan to get?

I approached a couple of insurers with this set of criteria:

  • A one-year plan for a 4-room HDB apartment
  • Where possible, it will be Basic, Standard, or Insured Peril policies only with no add-ons

And here’s what I got:

Home Insurance PlanPremium (1 Year)Household ContentsRenovations, Fixtures & Fittings
AIA Elite Home Care Standard$169.15$16,000$80,000
AIG Enhanced Public Housing Contents Insurance$70.62$150,000$69,500
Aviva Home Lite$52.97$35,000$75,000
AXA SmartHome Essential Standard Plan$53.50$15,000$50,000
Chubb Simply Home Insurance$178.20$100,000$80,000
Etiqa eProtect Home Standard Plan$60.50$30,000$50,000
FWD Home Insurance$57$40,000$80,000
HLAS Home Protect 360 Silver Plan$256.80$100,000$100,000
MSIG Enhanced Home Plus Standard Plan$118.77$50,000$75,000
NTUC Income Enhanced Home Standard Insurance$51.36$32,500$45,000
Sompo Homebliss Cosy Plan$96.30$20,000$80,000

If You Want The Cheapest Plan…

NTUC Income Logo

Then you can’t go wrong with NTUC Income’s Enhanced Home Standard Insurance. Their tiered pricing system means that a policyholder’s premiums are decided by the size of the HDB flat. Case in point, the yearly premium for a 3-room HDB flat starts at a mere $35.31. But obviously, the coverage limit will be adjusted according to the size and value of the flat.

If You’ve Want The Best Value Plan…

AIG Logo

Then the AIG Enhanced Public Housing Contents Insurance is probably the best value for you as it has the highest coverage for household contents at $150,000 for a relatively affordable $70.62 a year.

You can reduce the premiums even further by opting for a 5-year plan and making a lump sum payment of $331.70, which works out to be $66.34 a year.

Closing Thoughts

When it comes to choosing a home insurance policy, it’s important to first understand your needs so that you don’t over or under insure yourself.

If you’re living in a 3-room HDB flat that you renovated for next to nothing and everything inside it are gifts from friends and family. Then you probably wouldn’t need a costly plan with extensive coverage. Conversely, if you have an art collection at home that’s worth four times the GDP of a small developing nation then you’d BETTER have insurance, bruv.

You should also consider who’s living in the flat with you. If you have elderly family members at home, then you might want to get a policy that covers hospital charges. In the unfortunate event that one of them has an accidental fall.

For me?

I’m getting a basic, insured peril policy with no add-ons first. And just in case, I’m locking away all the matches and banning the wife from our kitchen. Because, reasons…

Homer Simpson Setting Fire To Corn Flakes
Source: The Simpsons | tenor

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