Contributed by Michelle Ee, Wealth Management Director, Financial Alliance Pte Ltd
(The contributor can be contacted at email@example.com)
While COVID-19 rages on, financial help is on hand should you or your loved one become ill from the virus. Financial Alliance has compiled a handy guide to help you quickly identify which types of insurance don’t cover you and which do (and how they cover you).
What’s more, selected insurance companies are offering free COVID-19 insurance to their policyholders. You will find our comparison tables useful for a quick grasp of the free coverage available.
1. Life Insurance
Q. Can my beneficiaries claim on insurance policies that I bought before the COVID-19 outbreak should I pass away due to COVID-19?
A. It depends on what the policy covers. Broadly speaking, illnesses and accidents are the two major causes of death. Life insurance policies cover death by illness as well as accident. Since COVID-19 is an illness, a life insurance policy will cover death due to COVID-19. However, certain insurance policies, such as a Personal Accident Plan, only cover death by accident; such a policy will not pay if the cause of death is COVID-19 as COVID-19 is not an accidental event. In short, to be sure your policy covers death due to COVID-19, make sure it covers death due to illnesses.
2. Critical Illness Insurance
Q. My insurance policy covers early, intermediate & advanced stage critical illness. Can I claim critical illness benefit from it if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
A. COVID-19 is not one of the named medical conditions covered under any critical illness (“CI”) plan. However, should you be diagnosed with COVID-19 and it causes you to develop a medical condition that is covered by the CI plan, the CI Benefit will be payable PROVIDED your condition meets the CI definitions and all other terms and conditions stated in your policy document. For example, the complications of COVID-19 may lead to a diagnosis of End-Stage Lung Disease; if that diagnosis fulfils your CI policy document’s definition, diagnostic criteria and specific evidence required for an End-Stage Lung Disease insurance claim to be paid out, the CI Benefit will be payable.
3. Integrated Shield Plan Insurance
Q. Does my Integrated Shield plan cover me should I be hospitalised due to COVID-19?
A. Yes, hospitalisation due to COVID-19 is covered under an Integrated Shield Plan. However, quarantine in a hospital that is not medically necessary is not covered by an Integrated Shield Plan. You may be pleased to know that the Singapore government will be paying for hospital bills incurred by COVID-19 patients in public hospitals. Do note that this coverage does not extend to outpatient treatment. Details are available via the link below:
Q. Does my Integrated Shield Plan cover medical fees incurred at GP clinics and/or diagnostic tests to determine if I am infected by COVID-19?
A. If your COVID-19 test result turns out to be positive and this results in hospitalisation, the Integrated Shield Plan will cover the medical fees you incurred under its Pre-Hospitalization Benefit – subject to the limits stated in your policy. In other words, if the test result is negative, the medical fees you incurred will not be reimbursable under your Integrated Shield Plan.
4. Disability Insurance
Q. If I suffer a disability due to the COVID-19, can I claim from my disability insurance?
A. So far no insurer specifically excludes COVID-19 as a cause that leads to disability. Therefore, if you are infected by COVID-19 and that leads to some kind of disability, the disability benefit would be payable as long as the claim criteria stated in your policy is met. The claim criteria include meeting the definition of “disability” as described in your policy document, and fulfilling the necessary deferment/waiting period before a claim is admissible.
5. Personal Accident Insurance
Q. My Personal Accident (“PA”) Plan has an infectious disease coverage benefit. Is COVID-19 included under such benefit?
A. COVID-19 is a new infectious virus to which healthcare professionals are still unable to find a cure, therefore it is generally not included under the infectious diseases benefit under a current PA policy. There may be some insurers who extend their coverage to include COVID-19 under the Infectious Diseases Benefit, however, it is not a common practice at the moment. Because the various insurers are reacting to new developments every day, the situation is still rather fluid. Please refer to your insurer’s website for the latest updates. For now, only NTUC Income has announced that they will provide limited COVID-19 coverage under their PA plan.
6. Travel Insurance
Q. Can I file a claim under my travel insurance policy if the insured event, such as travel cancellation, is triggered by COVID-19?
A. COVID-19 is now a “known event”, hence it will be excluded for coverage under travel insurance plans that are purchased now. This is applicable to both the single trip travel plan and the annual travel plan. On the other hand, even though COVID-19 is generally covered by travel insurance plans purchased before governmental travel advisories related to COVID-19 are issued, some have modified their coverage. For example, AXA Travel Insurance, who allow claims for trip cancellation if the travel plan is purchased before 11 January 2020 (for trips to Wuhan) or before 27 January 2020 (for trips to mainland China excluding Wuhan), states that “Customers who have not departed Singapore and wish to proceed with their trip are not eligible for any claims arising from the outbreak.” even for travel plans purchased before government travel advisories surfaced. Therefore, to be sure, please refer to your insurer’s website or announcements for exact dates they began to cease coverage for insured travel events triggered by COVID-19, and which coverage within the travel insurance is ceased.
7. Free COVID-19 Insurance by Life Insurers
Q. How can I benefit from the free COVID-19 coverage provided by life insurance companies?
A. As long as you hold a “qualified policy” with a life insurer who provides such coverage, you will be covered automatically. Generally, the types of policies that qualify for such coverage are whole life plans, saving plans, term plans and health insurance which is issued to cover individuals (i.e., not corporations and organisations). Some insurers also provide free COVID-19 coverage to new policyholders who buy a “qualified policy” within the stipulated policy issuance period. At the time of the claim for COVID-19 coverage, the “qualified policy” must be in force. Please refer to the respective insurers’ websites for the terms & conditions relating to such free COVID-19 coverage, including how each insurer defines “qualified policy”.
Q. What benefits are provided under the free COVID-19 coverage?
A. Generally, the benefits provided are:
(1) lump-sum payment upon diagnosis of COVID-19;
(2) daily hospital cash benefit if the insured person is hospitalised due to COVID-19; and
(3) lump-sum death benefit should death occur due to COVID-19.
The benefits stated above are payable on top of the benefits provided by the “qualified policy” that you hold with the insurer. As the insurance benefits offered vary among the insurers, and insurers apply exclusions to certain benefits, please refer to the respective insurers’ websites for detailed information.
Q. Will I have the free COVID-19 coverage as long as I continue to be a policyholder of insurers who offer such coverage?
A. The free COVID-19 coverage is a limited period cover and it will expire at the end of the coverage period. The coverage period varies among insurers and ranges from a few months to a year.
Q. I have multiple policies from different insurers, can I claim the free COVID-19 benefits from all the insurers?
A. It depends. If you are infected by COVID-19 and your condition meets the specific claim criteria set by an insurer offering the free COVID-19 benefits, you will be able to claim from that insurer. So, if your condition falls within the criteria of every insurer with whom you have a “qualified policy”, yes, you will be able to claim from them. Please note that you can only claim once from any one insurer regardless of the number of “qualified policies” you have with that insurer.
Q. Which life insurance companies provide free COVID-19 coverage?
A. As at 20 February 2020, the life insurance companies that provide free COVID-19 coverage are AIA, AXA, Manulife, China Life, China Taiping, Prudential, Etiqa, Great Eastern Life, HSBC Life and TM Life.
For your benefit, we have created the two tables below summarising the benefits offered (excluding Prudential and Great Eastern Life).
Important: The information and opinions in this article are for general information purposes only. They should not be relied on as professional financial advice. Readers should seek independent financial advice that is customised to their specific financial objectives, situations & needs.