Insurance policyholders left with little choice

Like managing editor Han Fook Kwang ("Insurers should treat customers better"; last Sunday), I received a letter from my insurer informing me that my policy was up for renewal.

It had enhanced my health plan to align it with the revisions to MediShield, and added "a number of new and enhanced benefits to further strengthen protection".

My premium went up from S$1,087.41 to S$1,521, and would be increased again every five years.

I should mention that I have not made any claims on my policy over the last 10years or so.

I did not ask for the "enhanced coverage", so why foist it on me and increase the premium?

To make matters worse, I had given up a previous policy the year before to sign up with this insurance company, because I thought its policy with MediShield enhancements was a better bet in the long term.

I ask the same question as Mr Han: Do insurance companies have the right to make such changes without their customers' agreement?

Of course, the insurer can say I do not have to renew my policy, but do I then go shopping for another one? And who is to say that another insurer would not do the same thing?

I told my agent that the company should consider the unequal bargaining positions when dealing with individual policyholders.

Despite raising some queries, I did not receive any clarification from the company.

Needless to say, I paid the increased premium so that I would have proper coverage, for peace of mind.

While I can afford to pay the premium increase, I wonder what other policyholders will do when faced with such a predicament.

Will they feel they have no choice but to ditch expensive insurance coverage, and rely on government subsidies to pay for their hospital expenses (assuming they qualify for such subsidies)?

Looking at the increase in premiums that will apply as one ages, it looks like I will have to downgrade my coverage when I retire.

I await with much anticipation what MediShield Life has to offer.

Chan Swee Chin (Ms)

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