Partnerships and Community Support in Unprecedented Times: a Singapore observation

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24 March 2020
Max Ang

The current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has put the global environment into trying times and it signify opportunities to extend current work practices and go beyond business-impact projects to social-impact projects. Social-impact is the ability to deliver projects that will help the community as a whole. This calls to the topic of supporting an ecosystem and building partnerships. In my first blog post, “Moving times, evolving business models: a Singapore observation”, I look at the cross-business partnership models adopted between insurers and other domains such as telecommunication and technology companies. Creating partnerships is important to weather the storm together as it creates a sharing ecosystem of knowledge and process. It is also a time to help and serve the community at large, bringing relief where possible.

Insurers’ support during a crisis

In Singapore, major insurers are adjusting coverage and claims procedures due to the changing economy and the recent crisis. AIA Singapore implemented a guarantee of insurance coverage and this will take effect before medical treatments are paid, providing assurance that final bill will be covered. Pre-authorization of medical claims provide coverage without fear of rejection or being required to pay upfront. This initiative is rolled out to all private non-emergency admissions and day surgeries. The goal is to prevent doctors from overcharging patients and manage health insurance rising cost.

This was in view of rising healthcare costs and incidents whereby patients are overcharge for a medical procedure. The new pre-authorization option for claims will be in effect from April 15, 2020 and affect 720,000 policyholders of the AIA HealthShield Gold Max policy. The goal is to provide sustainable healthcare to policyholders and to allow doctors to focus on providing the best clinical outcome. This scheme works on a partnership agreement with panel of specialist doctors from the public and private sector, with plans for private hospitals and day surgeries clinics. The partnership will also enable AIA to understand patients’ billings and inpatient stays better.

As part of assurance care due to the on-going threat of COVID-19, AIA will provide free additional coverage to individual life policyholders and corporate policies issued between 17 February 2020 to 31 July 2020. The policy pays out S$25,000 for death due to COVID-19 and lump sum of S$1,000 for hospitalization income. In partnership with telemedicine provider WhiteCoat, policyholders are eligible for free video medical consultations and treatments during the COVID-19 outbreak period. This initiative will be valid till 31 December 2020 or 30 days after the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level has stepped down to green. As of this blog’s publication, Singapore’s current DORSCON level is at orange.

Other Singapore insurers such as NTUC Income, Manulife Singapore, Great Eastern also offer free benefits for policyholders who are diagnosed with COVID-19.

Great Eastern created a S$1 million support package for policyholders and their immediate family members affected by the outbreak. It covers hospitalization for up to 60 days at S$200 per day and a lump sum of S$20,000 upon death. The eligibility period is capped at a total of S$1 million or 31 December 2020, whichever comes first.

Manulife Singapore has likewise set up S$1 million support fund, whereby customers are eligible for a S$1,500 payout upon COVID-19 diagnosis, with an additional payout of S$2,000 if the individual is hospitalized for a minimum of five days. A lump sum of S$30,000 is payout upon death. The payout is not eligible if COVID-19 is diagnosed within 14 days of policy issuance or renewal.

NTUC Income offer COVID-19 benefits for three group of policyholders: Income Personal Accident, Group Employee Benefits and the Income Family Micro-Insurance Scheme (IFMIS). Policyholders under this Infectious Disease policy will receive cash-payout of S$100 per day during hospitalization (for up to 30 days) and a lump sum of S$10,000 upon death. Employees of NTUC Income will receive the same benefit but at S$20,000 upon death. IFMIS covers low-income families who do not pay a premium and are offered a payout of S$5,000 in event of death or total permanent disability, including COVID-19. IFMIS family members who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will have a cash payout of S$200 per day during hospitalization, until August 31, 2020.

DBS Bank Singapore, in partnership and collaboration with Chubb Insurance Singapore, offers complimentary insurance coverage for all 5 million customers worldwide, except for mainland-China and United States-sanctioned countries. DBS’s COVID-19 coverage offers S$100 per day for hospitalization and a lump sum of S$1,000 upon admission to the intensive care unit (ICU), with extension beyond 30 days for a premium.

Key takeaways

The lessons to be learnt from such initiatives is the acknowledgement of how insurers are serving the community and bringing assurance during an outbreak. Such virus-related policies are offered at no-cost, but renewal will be offered at an affordable premium. The coverage differs from insurers, but the key feature of this virus-outbreak relief is offered as an add-on to existing life policies and insurers safeguard against losses by setting a threshold amount for support. A notable mention is the micro-insurance scheme, which acts as an enablement for the less fortunate, bringing about a sense of social inclusion. Going forward, insurers’ partnership with healthcare providers and banks will pave a way to serve the broader community and to gain access to a wider pool of customers.

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