According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore has been ranked number 1 in 2016 for being the most expensive country to live in. As such, uninsured individuals, especially expats, in Singapore may face staggering costs in the event of unforeseen accidents, so it’s highly recommended that you protect yourself with an insurance plan that best suits your needs.
Know about the types of insurance available
It is important to assess all the possible risks to determine what policies you will need to secure when moving to Singapore. Generally speaking, there are three main types of insurance in Singapore:
- Life insurance: This protects the insured and/or their dependents against financial losses incurred from a serious illness, permanent disability or death.
- Health insurance: This refers to protection against any medical-related costs such as critical illness, accidents, and long-term care for disabilities. All local Singaporeans and permanent residents are required to undergo a compulsory social security savings plan.
- General insurance: Referring to any non-life insurance, the categories include home, motor and travel insurance as well as other miscellaneous forms of non-life insurance.
Know where you can buy insurance from
In Singapore, you can purchase insurance from an insurance broker, a bank, or directly from an insurance company. Browsing around vast amounts of insurance policies may seem daunting to most people, so if you would like help on evaluating your insurance options and finding the best policy for your needs, it usually pays to seek advice from a licensed insurance broker.
Make sure you are buying from a licensed insurance broker
When securing an insurance policy in Singapore, it is important to verify if your insurance broker is authorized to provide you their services. All individual brokers must pass several exams before obtaining their license, including the M5 – ‚ÄúRules and Regulations for Financial Advisory Services‚ÄĚ, M9 – ‚ÄúLife Insurance and Investment-Linked Policies‚ÄĚ, and Health Insurance (HI). They will also need to be certified for Personal General Insurance (PGI), Basic Insurance Concepts and Principles (BCP), and ComGI (Commercial General Insurance). Brokers must pass the M5, M9, and HI tests as well as the PGI, BCP and ComGI certificates before they are authorized to sell insurance products in Singapore. To check that your insurance broker is authorized, you can search for your broker‚Äôs company name or nominee number in the General Insurance Association’s Agents Registration Board (ARB).
What you need to know about health insurance
It is important to keep in mind that only local Singaporeans and Permanent Residents have their public hospital bills subsidized by the Central Providence Plan (CPF), a compulsory social security savings plan that partially consists of a medical savings account known as ‚ÄėMedisave‚Äô. Most expats won‚Äôt be subsidized by the Medisave insurance plan and if they do not have adequate medical coverage, they will become vulnerable to high medical fees that they will have to pay out of their own pockets. For example, a heart bypass surgery can set you back by USD 25,000 (for further details on healthcare costs in Singapore, please visit the Ministry of Health website). To avoid paying high hospital fees, you will likely have to consider either securing local Singaporean health insurance or international health insurance depending on your circumstances.
Local vs International health insurance
Expats in Singapore are advised to verify if their employer provides medical insurance, and be aware of the level of coverage it provides. Policies provided by companies will vary in terms of medical coverage and some policies may have a very limited cover, for example with no maternity benefits. It is important to bear in mind that you will not be covered by domestic plans when you‚Äôre traveling overseas. If you plan to stay in Singapore for the entire duration of your stay and you‚Äôre on a tight budget, a local plan may be a good option for you because they tend to have lower premiums. On the other hand, those of you that travel frequently and desire greater flexibility on where you can be treated are recommended to secure international health insurance so that you can enjoy your policy‚Äôs benefits worldwide.
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