12 Questions to Ask when Reviewing Your Life Insurance Coverage

Policy review

I recently came across an article about an expectant mum who found out she had stage 4 cancer at age 33. Feeling the unpredictability of life, I’m compelled to write this piece.

Reviewing your life insurance coverage is a crucial part of financial planning and there are some key questions to ask to ensure you still have the right policy in place at the right cost.

Getting started: what you need

  • A copy of your original life insurance policy illustration
  • Summary of the policy features and benefits

Your current policy and circumstances

  1. Is my life insurance policy still in force?
  2. What type of policy is it? For example, term insurance or whole life insurance
  3. Have my needs changed?
  4. Is this still the right type of policy for my needs?
  5. Do I need more or less life insurance cover than I currently have?
  6. Can I still afford the premiums?
  7. If I need to increase my cover, has my health deteriorated or am I leading a healthier lifestyle that could mean better pricing for increased cover I may want?

Beneficiaries of your life insurance policy

  1. Who are your named primary beneficiaries?
  2. Are your name primary beneficiaries still those you would like to benefit from the proceeds of your policy?

Policy features and benefits

  1. Does my policy have any guarantees? If so, what are they? Are they still beneficial to me?
  2. Are there any ‘policy review’ points that I can benefit from? E.g. ability to increase the cover without further medical underwriting.
  3. Can I borrow against the cash value of my policy from the insurance company? If so, do you want to take advantage of this feature?
Advertisements

Why Should I get Disability Income Insurance?

disability

How would you get by if u lose your ability to work and earn a paycheck every month?

Financially speaking, working disability is worse than death. Our earning ability is our greatest asset. You are the golden goose that lay the golden eggs. Most insurance policies only pay when the golden goose drops dead or is critically ill, but this is not enough. What we need to do is to insure the golden goose’s “ability” to lay golden eggs.

But you may ask: I am already covered, right?

Some people may believe they are already covered for the risk of disability. Let’s look at the common misconceptions:

I have a policy that covers me for Total & Permanent Disablement (TPD)
This only covers very severe disability, such as losing a pair of limbs before your insurer pays you. What if a teacher loses her voice and has to quit teaching? This does not meet the definition of TPD, but is sufficient to trigger your disability income payouts.

I have a Critical Illness policy
Currently, critical illness insurance providers do not cover diabetes as one of the 37 critical illnesses. What if a pilot is grounded because his diabetic condition affects his vision? Critical illness policies work well to provide a lump sum in the event of a critical illness. But it falls short of the real disability need.

I have personal accident coverage

The weekly income payable from personal accident plans is payable only if the cause of disability is accidental, defined as involuntary and violent. Working disability from illnesses is not covered.

My employer will pay me
Most employers define how long you will receive your salary if you are unable to work. In Singapore, this is often between 1 to 3 months, which will not be sufficient in the case of long-term working disability.

Therefore, we need to consider a Disability Income policy that provides for replacement of income in all cases of disability. If a sickness or injury (of any severity) prevents you from working for at least 60 days, it can replace 75% of your earned income, by offering a tax-free cash benefit every month.

What Is A “Deductible” or “Excess”?

High-deductibles-II-resized-600.jpg

A deductible or excess is something you have on your policy when you have either, Hospital & Surgical coverage or Motor coverage. And its a dollar amount – it could be $500, $1000 or $3,000.

Quite simply put, the deductible is what you are responsible for, before the insurance company pays out anything on your behalf to fix your vehicle or seek medical treatment.

The lower your deductible, the higher your premium is going to be. Conversely, the higher the deductible you have, the lower your premium is going to be. 

Reason is this – you, the driver or the patient, are taking on more risk with a higher deductible. When you have a lower deductible, you are putting more risk on the insurance company. As a result, your premiums are effected in this way.

Importance of Overseas Medical Coverage

life-insurance-quote-canada-q1ktydkd

There is an essential aspect of Medical Insurance which some of you may not know – having overseas coverage. To illustrate the importance of it, below is the story of my colleagues’ client.

She is a 9 years old girl, who was diagnosed with Brain Cancer in 2014. After 2 weeks of treatment, her doctors gave up as the healthcare industry in Singapore does not have the necessary type of cancer treatment – Proton Chemotherapy.

Her parents sought advice from her doctors as to where their daughter could go internationally, in order to undergo Proton Chemotherapy. Doctors told them the nearest country with this treatment is South Korea, which is also the cheapest. Although she was unable to walk and had to move around in a wheelchair, the girl’s parents decided to bring her to South Korea.

After the treatment was done, she responded well and returned to Singapore, able to walk again. After follow-up Chemotherapy in Singapore, her cancer is now in remission.

Her parents and financial planner filed a claim for the medical bills incurred in South Korea, amounting to $110,000. Thankfully, their insurer paid for it, as the girl’s Hospital & Surgical plan covers overseas hospitalisation and treatment costs.

Many of us may feel that since Singapore is a very developed country, we should have all forms of healthcare. But this little girl’s story shows us that the opposite is true.

There are definitely more cases of patients being advised to seek treatment outside Singapore. So do check if your Hospital & Surgical Plan covers you for overseas treatment.

How Can You Cope With Long Term Care?

Screenshot (259)I would like to share with you the story of two friends of mine, who are in distress because their parents require long term care.

George and Joanne are a married couple in their late 40s. George just put his parents in a nursing home, which costs $2,000 per person every month. At the same time, Joanne’s mum is living with them while receiving in-home medical and nursing care. Such home care services costs $1,100 every month.

All 3 parents are either suffering from dementia or stroke, which hampers daily activities like eating and bathing. In particular, George’s mum has lost control of her bladder due to dementia.

They feel stressed and emotionally drained. Both sets of parents have lost their savings and independence, because they lack long term care insurance.

After struggling with long term care for their parents, George and Joanne want to protect their kids from the financial and emotional burden of having to care for them in their old days. They realised they need a long term care insurance policy.

As George was sharing with me, he felt that if his and Joanne’s parents had a long term care policy, instead of creating this emotional and financial burden for the family, the policy would have paid for the care and help them maintain their independence.

Lesson learnt:
The greatest risk we will face in retirement is requiring long term care. Without long term care insurance, we are playing the wrong odds. What is really worrying George and Joanne is this fast approaching dark cloud of a $100,000 per person risk, for an average 5 years stay. How are they going to pay this amount when they still have to save for their retirement?

If you are 40 years old or older, long term care insurance builds a shield around your nest egg, protecting you and your family from that risk so you can enjoy spending quality time with each other in retirement. Your kids will be grateful they don’t have to worry about changing your diapers or giving you that uncomfortable sponge-bath, because you planned ahead.

If you have parents age 40 or above, long term care insurance will pay for the care of your parents at old age and help them maintain their independence. Most importantly, you don’t have to pay for long term care expenses such as Nursing Home fees and hiring a caregiver on your own.