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VIRUS OUTBREAK

Singapore insurers extend premium-deferment measures

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The General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) and the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA Singapore) on Friday announced the extension of relief measures that will give policyholders more time to pay premiums, while maintaining their coverage.

Singapore

THE General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) and the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA Singapore) on Friday announced the extension of relief measures that will give policyholders more time to pay premiums, while maintaining their coverage.

The extensions come amid a soft labour market and weak economy as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

LIA Singapore announced a second Deferred Premium Payment (DPP) window for new applications from policyholders whose premium due date or policy renewal date falls between Oct 1 and March 31 next year.

This comes as its initial six-month DPP window closes on Sept 30.

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Under the second DPP window, policyholders whose policies are not already on DPP and are in financial difficulties can apply to their respective life insurers for a premium deferment of up to six months. Insurance coverage is maintained during the period of deferment.

Applications will be assessed according to individual insurers' considerations, LIA Singapore said.

Meanwhile, policyholders with policies on DPP who continue to face financial difficulties, and remain unable to pay the deferred premiums in full at the end of their deferment period should approach their respective life insurers to find out about available options, it added.

These options may include a three-month instalment payment plan and a three-month extension of the policyholder's DPP, as well as other options stated in their policy contract, such as an automatic premium loan, a conversion to a paid-up policy or a premium holiday, for example.

LIA Singapore added that life insurers and financial advisory representatives are proactively engaging policyholders with policies on DPP to review their policies, while also considering whether any available policy option should be exercised to adjust insurance coverage and premiums to sustainable levels.

Meanwhile, GIA said it would extend flexible premium instalment plans for general insurance policyholders until Dec 31, 2021.

Policyholders have until this deadline to apply to their insurers for flexible premium instalment payment plans, while maintaining their insurance protection for the paid-up period, it added.

Monetary Authority of Singapore deputy managing director of financial supervision Ong Chong Tee said the statutory board welcomes the measures from the insurance industry to provide continued support to policyholders facing financial difficulties caused by the pandemic.

"These measures will enable affected policyholders to maintain their policies, or to consider alternate insurance coverage," he added.

On Friday, NTUC Income said it is providing the option of an instalment payment plan, or a waiver of interest on any premium loans that may kick in, to customers who continue to have difficulties with their cash flow beyond the granted premium deferment period.

Its chief executive Andrew Yeo added that the insurer will be proactively reaching out to customers who, based on its data analysis, are most affected by the pandemic and will benefit from its various support schemes.

NTUC Income said it had received over 11,000 applications to these schemes as at end August; it added that nearly a quarter of the applications are for premium deferments for life and health insurance policies.

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