Consumers to be offered direct life insurance up to $400,000: MAS

Consumers to be offered direct life insurance up to $400,000: MAS

SINGAPORE - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said from next year consumers can buy directly simple insurance products up to a maximum sum assured of $400,000 under the first government mandated scheme in the world to offer protection without incurring commissions.


Get the full story from The Business Times.

Coming early 2015: buy basic insurance directly, save on commission by Mok Fei Fei, published in The Straits Times on July 30

SINGAPORE - The three categories of protection products through the direct sales channel offered are: term life insurance products with total permanent disability (TPD) cover, whole life insurance products with TPD cover and optional critical illness rider attached to term life or whole life insurance products.


Get the full story from The Straits Times.

MAS announced details of the direct purchase life insurance products in a statement released today: 

BUYING LIFE INSURANCE PRODUCTS DIRECTLY FROM INSURANCE COMPANIES WITHOUT COMMISSIONS

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced today the features of life insurance products that consumers can purchase directly from insurance companies, without incurring commissions (direct purchase products). This is an initiative under the Financial Advisory Industry Review (FAIR).

The features for these direct purchase products took into consideration the need to balance the interests of all stakeholders, while ensuring that the product design meets the primary protection needs of consumers. MAS actively engaged consumer groups and industry associations over the past 10 months before settling on the features. MAS will continue to work with industry groups to institute safeguards for the sale of these products.

The features of these direct purchase products will be broadly standardised to make them easier for consumers to understand and purchase without the need for financial advice. MAS will require all insurance companies that serve the retail market to offer the following direct purchase products: (a) Term life insurance products with Total Permanent Disability (TPD) cover; (b) Whole life insurance products with TPD cover; and (c) Optional critical illness (CI) rider attached to term life or whole life insurance products.

Consumers who wish to buy direct purchase products will still be subject to underwriting by the insurer.

For term life insurance, direct purchase products will comprise three variations in the policy coverage period, with the premium payment period matching the policy coverage period: (a) 5 years, with renewability feature (b) 20 years (c) Up to age 65

These three variations in the policy coverage period for term life direct purchase products will cater to consumers with both short and long term protection needs.

For whole life insurance, direct purchase products will comprise two variations in the premium payment period:

(a) Payment up to age 70 (b) Payment up to age 85

These two variations in the premium coverage period for whole life direct purchase products are commonly offered by insurers and are popular with consumers. For a given sum assured, they offer consumers a choice of a shorter and longer premium payment period to cater to differing personal circumstances.

The maximum sum assured for direct purchase products will be set at $400,000, with a sub-limit of $200,000 for whole life products, on a "per person per insurer‟ basis. In setting the maximum sum assured, MAS took into consideration the protection need of the average working adult, estimated at 10 times of annual income based on a 2012 Protection Gap Study commissioned by the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA).

The sub-limit of $200,000 for whole life products seeks to alleviate the risk of consumers buying whole life products beyond their means and protection needs.

This is because whole life products have higher premiums than term life products, and typically require a longer-term premium commitment. Policyholders who surrender their whole life policies in the early years of the policy also stand to lose a significant portion of their premium outlay.

Mr Lee Boon Ngiap, Assistant Managing Director for Capital Markets, MAS, said, "When direct purchase products are introduced in early 2015, they will provide consumers who do not require advice with cheaper access to selected life insurance products. Consumers will benefit from the greater price competition that will be introduced between the direct and commission-based channels. Consumers who are unfamiliar with financial products should approach their financial advisory representatives for financial advice."

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