How I Ruined My Father’s Insurability

This is a topic that is close to my heart and also explains the motivation behind what I do.

My dad fought and thankfully won a critical illness back when I was still a young boy, a time when managing my finances meant putting away coins into a piggy bank. Back then, both my parents were in their prime and provided a lifestyle for my sister and I which was, by most standards, a very comfortable one.

We were too young to know why Dad left his stable job, or the reason behind the abrupt resignation of my mother from her illustrious insurance career. It was much later did I realise how my parents have been sheltering us from worry and distress.

My dad, for obvious reasons, could not continue with his job. Even after recuperation, he felt his own mortality and decided on less strenuous employment, becoming a strict vegetarian and regular jogger for almost two decades since. My mum, stricken with worry of having an ill spouse and also ailing father-in-law, couldn’t continue with her insurance business. It takes care for others to sell insurance, she told me once, and she just couldn’t find care for others anymore, not when she had to devote her attention to her husband. She could no longer bear the sceptical objections of people who refused to purchase critical illness coverage: “So sick already sure die what!” was not something a wife of a critically ill man should hear.

And thus the income dropped drastically for my little family of four. Yet, my sister and I were sheltered through the turbulent times, getting the best education we could and enjoying all of life’s privileges as a middle class family in Singapore, all owing to the miracle of insurance which saw my family through one of its hardest times. The payout allowed my father to focus on recuperation and my mother to take care of him with less worry about finances. My family wouldn’t be as it is now without insurance. I wouldn’t be as I am now without it.

Is the belief in insurance truly enough on its own though? When I first joined the industry as a tied insurance agent, I felt naively motivated, even obliged, to see that my friends and family were insured.

Believing in the value of insurance, I got my dad to sign up for a hospitalisation policy my ex-company offered. Due to his pre-existing condition – it was deferred, which is as good as a “decline” due to the nature of the condition. Moreover, he had long made peace with his health and did not wish to undergo the trauma of intrusive medical examinations in a futile attempt to prove his insurability. Little did I know at that time that he is no longer able to apply for Moratorium Underwriting which was likely the only way he could be insured under an integrated Medishield plan (minus coverage for the pre-existing illness he had beaten). Of the five major companies which provides such coverage, only one offers this type of underwriting which he is no longer eligible for.

I have effectively ruined his insurability.

I can only blame myself for not doing the research and before misplacing my trust in a tied agency, where the training provided was heavily sales-oriented instead of planning focused, and there was no need nor ability to source for the most suitable product in the market as there was only one company to represent, for better or worse and often the latter.

This is how I came to my strong convictions. Insurance is extremely important, yes, but the application of it is equally, if not more, pertinent. For voicing out against practices of my ex-company I have been called names like ingrate, but it is clear that the regressive model of tied distribution undermines clients’ interests, and in this case has done a great disservice to my family. My gratitude belongs to my friends, family and clients who have supported me along the way, not to those who have little care of the interests of people important to me. As my father ages, I only hope to be able to provide him with a good quality of healthcare should his health falters – without the aid of insurance unlike before.

The Independent platform is the best avenue for clients to receive quality financial advice. It is also the best platform for advisers who want to be ethical and competent in addressing their clients’ financial needs. I only wish that I knew this much earlier.

Thumbs up to keep me writing more!