Thursday 21 June 2012

How Mindef helps NSmen decide on insurance

Measures in place to help servicemen make informed decisions about insurance

We thank Mr Tag Yujie for his letter on 11 June 2012, "Help national servicemen make informed choices on insurance" and Mr Elgin Seah for his letter on 16 June 2012, "Yes, stop the NS insurance hard-sell"; and their concern for our servicemen.

MINDEF provides compensation to our servicemen to cover any death or injury that is due to service. On top of this, all servicemen are encouraged to sign up for the SAF Group Term Life (GTL) Insurance which covers them for injury or death due to service as well as those that are not due to service. The GTL Insurance provides additional financial protection for servicemen and is therefore purely voluntary.

The coverage extends beyond NS duration up to the age of 70, so long as they continue to pay their premiums. For a monthly premium of $12.80, servicemen will be insured for an amount of up to $100,000. To help pay for the monthly premium, the NS allowance was increased by $20 in Jan 2009. Hence, there is no additional out-of-pocket expenditure on the part of servicemen.

The SAF GTL Insurance is a welfare provision. It is for the serviceman to decide whether the scheme is suitable for himself. Upon enlistment, servicemen are automatically covered under the SAF GTL Insurance, with the first three days of coverage provided free. They can choose to opt out of the scheme or terminate the policy at any time. Servicemen may also vary the amount of insurance coverage.

Information on the SAF GTL Insurance is readily available to our servicemen, so that they can make an informed choice. The information is available on the NS portal, Recruits are also handed the SAF GTL Information Pack on enlistment day, to allow them to seek clarification and consult their parents on the insurance policy.

Those who decide to opt out will submit their opt-out form to their unit, so that the Officer Commanding (OC) can speak to them to ensure that they have made an informed decision. There is no coercion and no serviceman is penalized for opting out. They can also choose to opt in subsequently, without additional charges.

Lieutenant Colonel (NS) Koa Boon Teck
Head SAF Personnel Services Centre
Singapore Armed Forces
ST Forum, 20 Jun 2012

Help national servicemen make informed choices on insurance

I COMPLETED my full-time national service in December last year. Having just returned from a four-month trip abroad, I checked my bank account the other day and realised that monthly payments were still being deducted from my bank account for insurance premiums.

I had signed up for an insurance policy as a recruit, and was unaware that it would extend beyond my time of active service.

As recruits undergoing Basic Military Training, we were persuaded to sign up for insurance with Aviva through a talk we had to attend.

We were told that the policy was 'guaranteed to be the best possible deal we could get'.

Most of us signed up for the policy, especially as we were told that we would have to meet our commanding officer if we chose not to.

We did not have a chance to consult our parents before making the decision, and had to do it on the spot.

While I recognise the merits of insurance coverage, I find it unfair that recruits are deprived of the opportunity to make informed decisions.

After signing up for the insurance, I found out from my father that I already had 10 policies. And the premium I was paying in relation to the coverage I was receiving was hardly the best deal out there.

I am unaware of how widespread this practice is, but I urge the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to review its procedures with regard to this matter.

Recruits should be afforded the opportunity to speak with their parents before making this decision, and be explicitly told that the insurance policy is for life.

The SAF should also consider providing free insurance for soldiers, given the sacrifices they are making for the country.

Tag Yujie
ST Forum, 11 Jun 2012 

Yes, stop the NS insurance hard-sell

I AGREE with Mr Tag Yujie that national servicemen should be given adequate advice and sufficient amount of time before deciding to purchase insurance ('Help national servicemen make informed choices on insurance'; Monday).

Purchasing an insurance policy entails a long-term commitment, and one should not be hasty about it.

Within the first two weeks of my enlistment, and during the two-week 'confinement' period, the recruits in my batch were strongly encouraged to sign up for insurance.

We were told that the insurance policy offered to us was 'value for money', despite our not knowing what the representatives from Aviva were talking about as they delved into the policy details. The representatives even persuaded us to opt for the higher-tier policies because of the higher payouts.

It was the first time purchasing insurance for many of us, and we did not know what questions to ask.

As an ill-informed recruit back then, I was afraid to refuse, as we were told that we would have to meet our commanding officer to explain why we chose not to take up the policy.

Many of us were also unaware whether our parents had already bought policies for us.

Recruits should be given a chance to discuss such decisions with their parents.

What is the point of taking up a policy during Basic Military Training and subsequently terminating it, as some of my friends did, after their passing out parade?

There should be no hard-selling and coercion when it comes to insurance.

Elgin Seah
ST Forum, 16 Jun 2012

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