Last week, The Straits Times (ST) reported about a couple in their 60s who have had S$25,000 deducted from their joint bank account for the riders that should have been cancelled along with the main policies which they have terminated seven years ago.
ST’s report highlighted that the husband is a 68-year-old retiree, who had been a partner of a renovation company, while his wife is a 66-year-old part-time trainer for early childhood teachers.
It was said that the couple has decided to cancel their Great Eastern (GE) Integrated Shield Plans (ISPs) in 2013 as they wanted to support a relative working there.
Their GE agent has terminated their ISPs, but the couple was unaware that the riders for the main policies were not cancelled at the time.
The riders, costing S$250 per month, continued to be deducted from their joint account via Giro, despite they have already bought the same coverage from their new insurer.
The couple assumed the monthly deductions were due to the new policies, until the husband brought up these deductions to his children in a gathering last November and discovered that they had been paying thousands over the past seven years for the unwanted riders.
Their 30-year-old daughter, who is a teacher, then decided to call an agent who was assigned to manage the policies and GE’s customer service hotline, but to no avail.
She then wrote an e-mail to GE requesting a refund to all premiums that her parents had paid, given that the riders should not exist when the main policies were already cancelled.
ST reported that the daughter received a reply from a GE customer service executive in January stating that while the two riders would be cancelled, no refund will be given to her parents.
She further filed an appeal with GE and explained in her e-mail that both of her parents are in their 60s and are not proficient in English.
“They are unaware of all these issues until we made a check on their bank statements and insurance policies they are currently holding. To the layman, insurance policy jargon is difficult to understand and confusing and it is their hard-earned money we are talking about.
“Therefore, we are writing to request that Great Eastern refund the premiums paid and any interest incurred till date,” the daughter wrote.
Fortunately, she succeeded in getting GE to refund the whole amount to her parents just days before Chinese New Year.
Meanwhile, a GE spokesman told ST that the couple’s riders were not cancelled because there were the older standalone hospital plans that would have provided 100 per cent coverage of the insured’s hospital bills.
It highlighted that such a policy can exist on its own and would pay for any additional sum not covered by the patient’s policy, even when the policy is from another insurance company. This is because all new ISPs do not cover hospital bills fully and patients are required to pay a portion.
As such, those who still have the riders can still own them as standalone policies until the old 100 per cent riders are phased out.
“We encourage customers to consult their financial representatives to fully understand the policies and processes before they consider changing or terminating their plans,” said the spokesman, adding that the termination of new ISPs will also terminate the riders.
“This is to ensure they are making the correct decision so that they continue to benefit from the necessary coverage and not have any duplication of coverage,” said the spokesperson.
Netizens still curious how a rider can exist without the main plan
Over on social media, netizens penned their thoughts under the comment section of ST’s Facebook post saying that the rider should be automatically cancelled after the shield plan is terminated, given that the rider is considered as “a tag-along” plan.
The couple’s incident had also raised the question of whether customers can buy the rider separately from the main plan.
Others noted that the GE agent should have informed the couple earlier.