While many other families were happily making their preparations for the Mid-Autumn Festival, Madam Li Yue was forced to deal with grave disappointment after receiving a letter from the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board informing her that her Home Protection Scheme (HPS) claim was rejected.
Madam Li Yue's late husband, Mr Se Chun Hua, had passed away five months ago after suffering a fatal heart attack.
In her letter to Zaobao, Madam Li Yue wrote that her husband, a TransCab taxi driver, had the heart attack whilst on a trip. However, she noted that he had still managed to park safely by the roadside to ensure that his passenger and the cab itself remained unharmed.
After being admitted to and cared for in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for five days, Madam Li Yue made the decision to have her critically ill husband undergo extubation, as she feared that there were insufficient savings left in Medisave to continue paying for his medical bills.
She had to borrow $5000 from a good friend of hers. However, the amount was only enough to sustain her expenses for 5 months.
Madam Li Yue added that she was informed by a Housing and Development Board (HDB) officer that she is eligible for the HPS, which is, according to the CPF website, "a mortgage-reducing insurance that protects members and their families against losing their HDB flat in the event of death, terminal illness or total permanent disability," under which she could continue to pay for their HDB flat loan.
Thus, Madam Li Yue relied on the HPS as a potential source of financial assistance.
Unfortunately, just before the Mid-Autumn Festival, she had received a letter from the CPF board informing her that her HPS claim was rejected, as they allegedly believed that her late husband had concealed his health condition, and had thus subsequently failed to inform the insurer regarding his pre-existing diabetes and heart disease conditions.
The CPF board had purportedly only returned $269.46 from her husband's unused premium in the HPS.
Madam Li Yue argued that when her husband had signed the HPS agreement five years ago at the HDB office, nobody had explained the insurance policies to them, and that they would have certainly provided his health data should the insurer have requested it.
"The hospital has his records - thus it is obvious that we cannot hide anything [even if we tried] ... My husband believe that the HPS is a form of financial protection from the government, and that was why he signed the agreement ... Yet he is being accused of dishonesty even after he had passed away," lamented Madam Li Yue.
Moreover, her husband's HPS premium had increased from $1100 per annum to $1382.16 last year.
Madam Li Yue noted in her letter that the insurer should have requested their health data and reject his husband's HPS application the moment they could "confirm" that the information he had given was "suspicious," and yet the insurer had gone on to charge them for the premium. As a result, they are unable to secure any protection for their home.
The eligibility criteria listed for the HPS. Source: CPF Website
Mr Se Chun Hua leaves behind Madam Li Yue and their two children, one of whom is their eldest daughter, who is a freshman in the School of Business at the Singapore University of Social Sciences. The 21-year-old has to pay $4260 in school fees per year.
Madam Li Yue also revealed another issue with TransCab: Only the vehicle receives protection via insurance, and not the driver. As a result, she and her family are not able to claim anything from the company.
"Not long after my husband passed away, the company sent a letter to us and informed they are taking back the taxi. However, as we were unable to find the key, they have charged us a "repair fee" with the amount of $25.58.
The cold rigidity and ruthlessness of the company in this situation had left me speechless," lamented Madam Li Yue.