Insurance: How To Review & Why You Should
I started off this year with the goal to make the most out of my finances.
To achieve this goal, I plan to maximise my savings, spend minimally and start investing.
But, there was one thing that I didn’t know I missed out on.
I received a letter informing me that my health insurance was due for renewal – an annual premium of $400++.
That’s when I noticed that I should pay more attention to the insurance I own.
Let’s be honest, insurance is one of the things we often overlook because we just want to “settle and move on”.
But we also don’t want to end up not knowing where our money is going into.
Additionally, there are various reasons why one should consider reviewing, including changes in life stages and careers.
With commitments such as a car or house in the near future, I would also need car insurance/auto insurance, and home insurance.
This prompted me to create my own excel sheet to track all my insurance plans and sum assured.
It is actually not difficult and is similar to any expense-tracking app you’re using.
If you’re still not convinced why you should do so, read on to find out why.
TL;DR: Why You Should Review Your Insurance and How To Do It
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Reasons For Reviewing Your Insurance Policies
There are various reasons why a policy review is needed.
When Your Life Status Changes, You Need To Ensure Appropriate Coverage
If you’re getting married soon, you and your spouse may rely on each other financially.
When you have a child, your financial obligation increases too.
Similarly, although it is desirable for your parents to retire with enough money to live on their own, things may not go the way we want.
Health concerns or physical disabilities may force your parents to rely on you for financial and physical support.
These circumstances warrant a higher insurance coverage as your liabilities have increased as more people rely on your income.
When Your Career Changes
Some companies include life insurance in their employee benefits packages.
While your employer pays the premiums, these policies typically provide just basic coverage.
That might be great if you’re unmarried, have no dependents, and have no debts to pay off when you pass away.
Furthermore, if you rely on your company’s life insurance policy now but quit your work in the future due to a health issue, your coverage may stop.
When Your Expenses Increase
If your pay increases, your lifestyle might change.
Similarly, if you’ve taken up loans such as personal loans, or have short-term debts such as large credit card bills, reviewing your life insurance may be helpful too.
This is to ensure that you do not burden your loved ones with the task of paying off your debts while you are gone.
You can review your insurance to see if it fits your change in lifestyle.
When You Have Potential Cost Savings
If you can enjoy some cost-saving from reviewing, it’s certainly not a bad thing.
In fact, because I decided to review my policies, I know where I was lacking and managed to some money.
Typically, you may save from:
- Changing a policy i.e., lower monthly/annual premium but higher coverage
- Surrendering a policy you no longer need, then receiving a cash value your policy has built up over time
- Discounts from buying packages that cover your needs, instead of standalone policies which could be more expensive.
I’ve noticed that the whole life insurance policy (bought by my mother in 1996) has a maximum coverage of $50,000.
The coverage fell short of the Life Insurance Association Singapore’s recommendation of nine to 10 times the insured’s yearly income or current liabilities.
I was also missing a Critical Illness (CI) policy.
If you’re not aware, almost 1 in 4 people may develop cancer in their lifetime.
The chances of getting an illness like cancer are quite high and the least we would want to worry about is the medical treatment costs.
Instead of getting a separate CI policy which is usually more expensive, I’ve decided to get a term life insurance that has a CI rider instead.
I chose the term life insurance instead of whole life because of the multipay CI feature which was only available in the term life plan.
Multipay refers to having multiple cash payouts for critical illnesses across various stages, as well as additional payouts where applicable.
This is especially important in cases where relapses or active treatment is needed.
Also, there was also a 20% discount when I purchased the term plan.
Just looking at the annual premium, I’ve saved $100++ from the switch.
While $100 doesn’t seem like a lot, it can get you 22 cups of $4.50 bubble tea, or five bowls of $20 Ma La Xiang Guo.
How To Review Your Own Insurance Policies
Step 1: Set a Date To Review
There is no hard and fast rule on how often you should review your policies.
Generally, a review every three to five years is a good practice.
Any earlier, you might not want to switch policies too as you might be forfeiting some returns.
This is especially so for endowment policies or Investment-Linked Policies (ILPs).
As policy coverages don’t change much within one to two years, there is no reason to relook if there’re no changes.
Step 2: Determine the Size of Payout of ILPs and Endowment Policies
Of course, you shouldn’t be looking at premiums alone.
For policies such as endowment, whole life, or IPLs, the earnings are gained by investing your money.
The size of your final payout is determined by the success of the funds in which your premiums are invested.
This is also why surrender values are often described as “non-guaranteed.”
So, the next thing to ask yourself is whether the funds you’re investing in are risky and size does matter here.
Investors don’t want to pay premiums for 20 to 25 years only to discover that the returns are very little.
Step 3: Consider Your Surrender Value – Whole Life, ILP and Endowment
Before you drop the ball, think about whether the current coverage suffices in covering all potential changes in your life.
For insurance such as health and term insurance which are meant to protect only, the premiums are completely used to cover insurance, and there is no cash value.
However, if you’ve developed any health issues in the interim, you may find it difficult or costly to re-insure.
On the other hand, there is usually a surrender value for whole life insurance, endowment insurance, and investment-linked policies.
Bear in mind that there might also be additional fees or charges if, say, there was a lock-in period.
If in doubt, you can approach your financial advisor to do an accurate calculation for you.
Say if you’re making a loss, but if you manage to find a similar insurance policy that is cheaper than your current version, would you be able to recoup the losses over the next few years.
Step 4: Compare Across Products
Always, always compare and read product reviews.
Direct Asia, NTUC Income, AIA Singapore, Great Eastern and Singlife Singapore are some notable companies.
You will never know if you’re well covered until you start seeing the differences between policies.
Read what others have shared about the different policies, any hidden fees and if it’s worth holding, and what kind of returns they have gained thus far.
If you’ve been reviewing your insurance policies annually, great job!
However, if you’ve not started at all, perhaps it’s time to consider doing so.
After all, getting ourselves (and loved ones) protected against major changes that can happen in our lives can help lessen our financial burden.
How are you planning yours?
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