With 33 Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) listed on the MOH website (as of July 2017), how does one choose the right plan? For most people, they choose whatever their insurance agent sells. As someone who has looked at nearly all the available plans, let me tell you why I decided to go with NTUC Income (and no, they are not paying me anything for this review).
Reasons why I chose NTUC Income as my IP insurer
1. They provide the best value.
For the Private Hospital Plans (the highest tier health insurance coverage), NTUC Income provides the least expensive option for the majority of the age cohorts. In some cohort categories, another insurer might have the least expensive option, but the difference is so minimal. Although not explicitly stated, I believe the reason why they can offer such value is because they are a cooperative.
2. They are a cooperative.
NTUC Income is the only insurance cooperative in Singapore. You can read more about this history of NTUC Income Co-operative here. Because they are social enterprises, co-operatives tend to be more inclusive, more affordable, and more socially responsible.
3. They are a local insurer.
I also wanted to support a local company (other than NTUC, Great Eastern is the only other locally based insurance company in Singapore). Local companies might have a better understanding of our local population.
4. Now you can purchase their plans online.
Since last week, NTUC Income is the first to have their IP available for online purchase. This means you don’t have to meet with an insurance agent to buy the plan. All you need to do is answer a few simple questions, and within 5 to 10 minutes, you can buy a plan. New customers with no pre-existing health conditions can get instant approval and coverage upon application.
If you already have a plan, starting March 2018, you will be able to upgrade or downgrade your plan online. You will also be able to chat through their portal if you have any questions regarding coverage, claims, riders, and other issues.
5. They give you an estimate of your bill.
Their “Coverage Checker” can give you an estimate of the bill depending on records for their past claims. After selecting for your medical treatment (from a common list of 80), you then enter your details (plan type, age, residency status) and it will give you information on an average bill size.
6. Their claims submission process is easy.
Claiming a pre- and post-hospitalisation bill can also be completed in seconds by submitting a photo of the bill to the online portal, eliminating the hassle of paper submissions.
Buying Online vs Through an Agent: What’s Different
Buying online saves time. In the recent past, more and more people have been wanting a more DIY experience. But they also want it to be easy.
NTUC Income’s new online portal has a 1-minute guide that’s truly easy to use. It finds the best plan for you based on your preferences, age, and residency status.
You don’t have to meet with an agent. Sometimes, meeting with an agent can not only be more time consuming, but you might end up buying more products than you need. The agent might want to upsell, or cross-sell policies. You might go in with the intention of just buying an IP, but might also end up buying a Investment-linked Insurance Policy (ILP) (these carry very high commissions).
Buying Online vs Through an Agent: What’s the Same
The premiums, whether you buy online or through an agent, are the same. If you feel more comfortable having an agent sit down and go over the plan with you, by all means, choose this option. It will give the agent commission and your premiums will not be any higher.
If you buy online, you will be assigned an agent after your purchase. So in both cases, you will have a person whom you can directly contact if you have any questions or problems.
The “free look” period of 90 days is also the same. This means that if you change your mind within 90 days, you will get a full refund.
Though buying online will not save you money in terms of premiums, it will save you time. It might also make it less likely for upselling or cross-selling to occur. But only do it if you’re comfortable with it.