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Can Most Protection Needs Be Covered By Term Insurance?

Mark is a good friend of mine. Some years back he had the opportunity of his life time to build his dream house on a piece of land given to him by his grandfather and he had a budget of $1 million. After many months of construction and renovation, it was finally completed. When Mark invited us for his housewarming, we were all shock to see the house. Suffice it to say that it was badly done and aesthetically not pleasant. His wife and daughters were also unhappy with this new house and wished they hadn’t move at all. So, what actually happened?

You see, when Mark started the building project, everyone he spoke with had different ideas for Mark. Mark then met a friend who works for a fire safety company. He started sharing with Mark on the importance of fire safety and the various fire incidents that had happened over the course of his decade long experience in this industry. He shared horror stories on how fires have destroyed not just properties but also caused many lives to be lost as a result of poor fire safety planning. Mark then appointed his friend to come out with a fire safety plan for his new home. Very soon, Mark was presented with a comprehensive plan with recommendations to get all the expensive fire alarms & detection system, fire extinguishers, sprinklers & high-tech suppression systems. If Mark follows it to the tee, he will find sprinklers installed on the ceiling of every room and with different types of fire extinguishers hung on every single wall in the house. On top of that, Mark will have tens of spare fire extinguishers kept in his storeroom, just to cover all the possible risks. The only problem is this, it will cost up to 60% of the $1 million budget that Mark had for his house. If he spends lesser, it will not cover the risks fully. The advantage of this plan is that after 10 years, Mark can sell back the equipment back to his friend’s company for a reasonable sum. Mark’s friend convinced him that the best thing he could do for his family is to cover the fire risks fully. Mark trusted this friend, and executed the entire plan. As a result, Mark didn’t have enough budget to appoint an interior designer. He also opted for lower quality materials to build and furnish his house. Instead of concrete walls inside the house, he chose to use low cost MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) that is combustible and susceptible to moisture and wood destroying fungi and termites.

So, Mark now has a house that covers all possible fire risk but ironically, lives in a house with materials that are low in fire resistance, unattractive to the eye and uncomfortable to stay in. Above all, his family is not happy staying there. But he argued that he will recoup some of the money back when he sells back the equipment in 10 years’ time.

I am sure many of you will find this story incredulous and cannot believe that Mark will make such an unwise decision. Yet, when it comes to building our own “financial house”, many of us use the same approach. Let me explain.

Our financial house are life goals that we want to achieve in our life time, like living a comfortable life now and also at retirement. The fire risk are life risks that we face that may destroy our goals, such as loss of income due to death, disability and a medical crisis, as well as huge medical expenses one may incur. The fire safety plan is the expensive whole life insurance plans which in many cases, are unnecessary.

When you are doing your insurance planning, you should start with asking yourself three questions:

  1. How long you need the insurance cover?
  2. How much insurance cover you need?
  3. What type of insurance to buy, after answering the first 2 questions

How long do you need insurance cover?

The most common risk that we face is the loss of income due to death, disability and a medical crisis. So, if we are buying insurance for this purpose, when we don’t have or no longer have dependants and when we are retired, there is no need for this coverage. Our need for this kind of insurance is therefore temporary and not permanent.

The next most common risk that we face is incurring huge medical expenses (whether it is for hospital expenses or for alternative treatment) in the event of a medical crisis. If you are buying insurance for this purpose, then you will need the insurance for as long as you live. Our need for this kind of insurance is therefore permanent and not temporary.

There are other needs when one buys insurance. The lack of space does not allow me to cover them all. But suffice it to say that for most of the higher priority needs, you will only need it for a period of time and not permanently.

How much insurance cover do you need?

Let’s use the case of Peter (table 1) who is aged 45 and has 2 children with the following needs:

Amount

Remarks

Monthly Income

$10,000

% of income needed to support dependants: 75% of monthly income

$7,500

No of years needed to support dependants upon demise

15

Amount needed to fund children’s education

$177,000

Peter wants to ensure 2 of his children can afford university fees, even upon his demise

Home Loans & Liabilities

$462,500

Peter wants to pay off these liabilities upon his demise

Total capital needed upon demise

$1,989,500

Peter has existing insurance coverage

$600,000

Current Assets

$400,000

Cash in bank, CPF and other investments

Shortfall in capital upon demise

$989,000

Peter needs to buy this amount of additional insurance cover

Table 1: Amount of insurance coverage needed

We can also assume that upon facing a medical crisis, such as being diagnosed with cancer, Peter wants to ensure he has an amount that is equivalent to 3 years of his income ($360,000) paid by insurance. This is so that if he can’t work, his family can live normally. As such, he will need to purchase critical illness plan with a sum assured of $360,000.

What type of plan to buy?

Based on Peter’s need, these are the types of plans available (table 2)

Needs

How long do you need

Amount needed

Premiums for Whole life plans

Premium for Term plans (coverage till age 70)

Income replacement upon death and disability

Temporary

$1 million

<$28,640 p.a.

$2,913 p.a.

Income replacement upon critical illness

Temporary

$360,000

$7,358 p.a. (pay for 15 years only)

$2,637 p.a.

Total

$35,998 p.a.

$5,550 p.a.

Table 2: Types of insurance plans

Due to the constraints of space, I have not work out the numbers for insurance needed to pay for medical expenses, such as alternative medicine. You can read a more comprehensive write-up at www.diyinsurance.com.sg. But already with the above, you will see how expensive it is if Peter uses whole life plans to cover the most basic need of replacing income loss due to death, disability and a medical crisis. I have not even considered buying insurance to pay for medical expenses, such as alternative treatments (which you will need whole life plans). And if Peter buy a smaller whole life plan to fit his budget, he will not be sufficiently covered. If he buys the full coverage, it takes up a large portion of his income that he does not leave enough to live a life now and also plan for his retirement. Yes, with whole life, he can get some money back later if he surrenders the policy in his later years. But what is the point of that when you cannot even achieve your goals now? Can you see Peter (and many of us) making the same mistake as Mark?

I have been advocating the use of term plans since 2003. Why do I continue to do so? It is not because there are no uses for whole life plans. It is just that for most of our insurance needs, it can be easily solved through term insurances. Whole life plans are expensive and unnecessary. But almost 15 years later, I still hear of many buying whole life plans for all the wrong reasons and risked building their financial house wrongly. Insurance is a contingency plan, not a goal. You really don’t want to use it. But if you spend a large proportion of your budget on it, the only way to achieve your goal is for the contingencies to happen. And as most of you will agree, that’s silly.

And by the way, if you suspect that the story of Mark is fictitious. You are right. It is a parable.

The writer, Christopher Tan, is chief executive officer of Providend, a fee-only financial advisory firm specialising in retirement planning.

DIYInsurance (Do It Your-way Insurance) is Singapore’s First Life Insurance Comparison Web Portal started in June 2014 by Providend Ltd to empower people to make informed decisions about their own insurance purchases. In addition to ongoing promotions, we rebate 50% of the agent’s commissions back to our clients so that they enjoy greater cost savings.

The Trusted Place to be Insured
MAS-licensed since 2003 | Expert advisers to assist you | Advisers not commission-based | Dedicated after-sales service | Secure and easy process

How Much Will Your Child’s University Education Cost In Singapore?

The transition into parenthood is a time that provides parents with immense joy. It is also the start of a long journey that demands great sacrifice.

As a quote goes, “Until you become a parent, you can’t begin to discover your capacity for strength, love and fatigue.”

Of the many heavy responsibilities that comes with parenthood, it includes the financial demands of having a child. A report in 2016 estimated that raising a child in Singapore would cost S$360,000 on average and up to S$1milllion on the high end. A bulk of the amount is attributed to the provision for a child’s tertiary education tuition fees and expenses.

And as the government increases the number of university places to 40% of each cohort in 3 years’ time, everyone wants to get a university degree and everyone wants to plan for their children to attend University.

No doubt, the provision of children’s university education cost is one of parents’ top worries.

Cost of University Education in 2017

The entire cost of university education cost is made up of 2 components; Tuition Fees and Cost of Living.

  1. Tuition fees: This is the amount a student has to pay throughout their candidature. The fees are reviewed by the Universities every year and is charged at the rate prevailing at the time one accepts his/her offer of admission
  2. Cost of living: It includes estimated cost of books, supplies, transportation, meals, personal expenses and optional on-campus accommodation.

Tuition Fees 2009-2017

Cost of Living 2017

Total Cost of University Education in 2017

4 years Non-medicine course for a Singaporean= $41,029+ ($6,000 x 4) = $65,029

As it stands, the total cost of University education costs $65,000 which is almost the cost of an entry level car! If a couple were to save $500 monthly towards their child’s education, it would take them almost 11 years to reach this amount.

Let’s look at how tuition fees have increased over the years and determine the education inflation rate.

Based on our 1st table, we can derive this:

The tuition fees for Permanent Residents (PRs) and foreigners have increased significantly the last 8 years due to the progressive lowering of subsidies given to PRs & foreigners over this period. However, it is unlikely this trend will continue.

Cost of University Education in 2035

We use a case scenario of the following:

  • Tuition fees and Cost of Living increase by an average of 4% per year
  • We include the cost of living (without campus accommodation) for the length of the entire course

The Total Cost of University Education in 2035

Non-medicine course (4 years) for a Singaporean = S$131,737

Setting aside S$130,000 is not a simple affair for most people. If you have intentions to save for your child’s overseas studies in Australia, United Kingdom or the United States of America, the amount you need could be tripled!

Saving for your child’s tertiary education demands you to plan as soon as possible so that you have a longer run way to save and grow your savings. Start early so you have the greatest chance in providing your child with this important opportunity that he/she may need.

To find out how much you need for your child’s education, use this simple calculator here. Click here to learn more about Child’s Education Savings plans and click here to compare education savings plans.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at [email protected] . Our non-commission based expert advisers will assist you in solving your needs for your children’s education.

Notes:
Tuition fees have been computed based on the average of the following courses. Non-medicine: NUS (Arts and Social Sciences, Business and Law), NTU (Accountancy and Business and others), SMU (Law & all others). Medicine: NUS

References:

Tuition fees in 2017

  • NUS: http://www.nus.edu.sg/registrar/info/ug/UGTuitionCurrent.pdf
  • NTU: http://admissions.ntu.edu.sg/UndergraduateAdmissions/Pages/tf_15.aspx
  • SMU: https://www.smu.edu.sg/about/financial/tuition-fees
  • Cost of living in 2017: http://www.nus.edu.sg/oam/financialaid/financial-tuition-fees-coaup.html
  • Tuition fees in 2009: http://newshub.nus.edu.sg/news/1003/PDF/FEES-st-19mar-pA1&A4.pdf

DIYInsurance (Do It Your-way Insurance) is Singapore’s First Life Insurance Comparison Web Portal started in June 2014 by Providend Ltd to empower people to make informed decisions about their own insurance purchases. In addition to ongoing promotions, we rebate 50% of the agent’s commissions back to our clients so that they enjoy greater cost savings.

The Trusted Place to be Insured
MAS-licensed since 2003 | Expert advisers to assist you | Advisers not commission-based | Dedicated after-sales service | Secure and easy process

Understanding Retirement Income

Retirees need a reliable stream of income to fund their living expenses. This income stream can come from several sources such as CPF LIFE, annuities, rental income and dividends. They could also fund their retirement lifestyle by drawing down from bank deposits and investments.

In recent years, insurance companies have been rolling out many types of retirement products into the market. Because of its complexity, a typical consumer usually finds it hard to understand or compare.

At DIYInsurance, we try to make it easier by categorising retirement income products based on:

1. Nature of income payout

Variable income amount

The income payout is made up of a guaranteed amount and a non-guaranteed projected amount. As the non-guaranteed amount is subject to the performance of the insurer, the actual income payout would be variable year by year.

Pros

  1. Premium is cheaper
  2. Projected income payout is higher

Cons

  1. Income amount is variable, hence payout amount may be lesser

Fixed income amount

The income payout per year is fixed and guaranteed. It is not subject to the performance of the insurer

Pros

  1. Income is guaranteed

Cons

  1. Decreasing purchasing power as income will not increase
  2. Premium is higher

Increasing income amount

The income payout per year can increase in the future.

Pros

  1. Income can increase to offset inflation

Cons

  1. Premium is much higher

2. Duration of Income Payout

For a limited number of years

The income stream is payable for a fixed number of years

Pros

  1. Premium is cheaper
  2. Higher income payout

Cons

  1. Income stops at the end of duration (longevity risk)

For the entire life

The stream of income is payable for the entire life

Pros

  1. Income is assured for life

Cons

  1. Premium is higher
  2. Lower income payout

The suitability of the retirement income products depends on several factors such as:

  • How much retirement income you need
  • How long an income stream you require
  • How much resources you can set aside
  • Existing sources of income for retirement purpose
  • Is there a need to have additional payout during maturity
  • Is there a need for high death benefit

For a start, you can use our Retirement Income Calculator to estimate your affordability or simply go to Compare Retirement Income products page to start comparing.

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DIYInsurance (Do It Your-way Insurance) is Singapore’s First Life Insurance Comparison Web Portal started in June 2014 by Providend Ltd to empower people to make informed decisions about their own insurance purchases. In addition to ongoing promotions, we rebate 50% of the agent’s commissions back to our clients so that they enjoy greater cost savings.

The Trusted Place to be Insured
MAS-licensed since 2003 | Expert advisers to assist you | Advisers not commission-based | Dedicated after-sales service | Secure and easy process

5 Money Tips Fresh Graduates in Singapore Need to Know

Congratulations on your graduation! You have completed almost 2 decades of formal schooling. I savored the time when I graduated, I was on my own to forge my own path ahead.

Receiving my first full-time pay was exciting but the excitement faded as quickly as it came. Financial responsibilities of planning for my wedding, a home and kids soon came my way.

As a young graduate, you are required to make your most important financial decisions at still a young age.

I wish I knew these money tips before I started working.

1. Budget

The only way to not get into debt is to spend less than what we earn. Budgeting is so important yet often neglected by most of us.

Useful hacks: 

  1. Budget your monthly salary into four areas: monthly expenses, savings (eg. wedding, renovation), emergency fund, spare cash (ad-hoc expenses)
  2. Account sufficiently for ad-hoc expenses. It could be the ad-hoc birthday treat that came up, an unexpected taxi ride or a course that you want to sign up for.
  3. Do not stretch yourself too thin and do not spend more than what you have budgeted for.

2. Automate Banking Accounts

This ensures that we stick to our budget.
With new bank accounts (Eg. OCBC 360 and UOB One) that give us higher interest by depositing our salary and making a minimum spending from the same place, we are given incentives to save and spend all from the same account.
This could lead to overspending and we could be better off not earning from this extra interest.

Useful hacks:

  1. Setup four bank accounts for the four areas you have budgeted for
  2. Direct your salary into one account and set an automated transfer on when your salary is credited each month to the other 3 other accounts.
  3. Ensure that you do not have any ATM, debit or credit card access to your savings emergency fund bank accounts. It was so easy for me to touch these accounts when I had access to them!

3. Savings

This account allows me to save up for big-ticket items that are coming up. Even if you are single now, it is important to save. You should be financially prepared when the love of your life appears!

Useful info: 

  1. A wedding in Singapore is more costly than what most people think. One couple in Singapore had a dream $110k wedding and ended up in severe debt. An entire wedding celebration with a banquet at a hotel can easily come up to at least $40,000. Remember that A Wedding is a Day; Marriage is a Lifetime.
  2. The average amount spent on renovations is $56,000 in 2014. Together with your wedding celebration, this is a large sum of cash to save up for.
  3. If you are looking to purchase a car, you would need to set aside at least 40% of the purchase price in cash. A new Chery J3 requires a deposit of at least $30,000.

4. Emergency Funds

Many people underestimate the value of having emergency funds set aside. We need extra funds to tap on for an unexpected medical expenses of a loved one and to tide over in the event of a retrenchment.

Useful hacks:

  1. A good guide is to save up 6 months of your monthly salary so that there is enough to tap on in an unexpected event.
  2. Consider setting a portion of your emergency funds in Singapore Savings Bonds by the Singapore Government.  Aim to grow your emergency fund as your salary increases.

5. Insurance

This allows me to provide for my loved ones who are dependent on me financially. In the event of an illness or a disability, I will not be a financial burden to anyone.

Useful hacks:

  • Use term insurance to adequately insure yourself. Most of us do not need insurance for our entire lives, our dependents would no longer be dependent on us financially at a later point in our lives.
  • Always compare products from the different insurers, the price differences between the different companies are much greater than what you expect.
  • Ask your insurance advisor how he/she is being remunerated. Does your advisor earn more by selling you one product over another?

Investments?

While the world of investing and possibility of high returns seem exciting, it is critical that you do not dive into them until you have the above five financial areas planned for. Investing is for long-term and we should only invest if we have spare funds that we do not need for 10 years to ride the market volatility.

By implementing the above money hacks and if you are debt-free, you would have started off on a sound financial footing.

The journey to financial independence is a marathon and not a 100m dash. Plan well and you have won half the battle!

The edited version appeared in The Straits Times on 15th May 2016.

DIYInsurance Walk-through

How can anyone possibly understand insurance with this?

Look no further. DIYInsurance has got you covered with an insurance comparison portal and an easy discovery tool. Take a Selfcheck to determine what insurance you really need.

Simply enter some information, your age, the number of children you have, total assets and your healthcare expectation. Indicate your existing insurance coverage and… Voila! You now understand your current insurance situation and what’s lacking.

We compare and recommend the plans that best fulfill your needs. To find out more, you can request for a customised quote and a friendly adviser will be in touch to assist you!
But what if you already know the type of insurance you want?

DIYInsurance is the first life insurance comparison web portal in Singapore. Using the comparison portal, compare a wide range of protection, savings and retirement plans. With our research and analysis, we rank a list of products for you based on their price and value.

Need more information about the plan? It’s all there with a click of a button.

Get a customised quote, enjoy greater cost savings with 50% rebates in commissions and receive professional advice. Insurance has never been this easy with honest and competent advice.

Your Trusted Place to Be Insured. Do It Your-way insurance.

Overview of DIYInsurance

Most of us know why it’s important for us to have life insurance and to have enough, it is to provide security for us and our loved ones. However, we just don’t enjoy the process of buying insurance. There’s so many products and it can be confusing. To make matters worse, when we are recommended on what to buy, we never really know whether it is done in our best interest. At time, we feel pressured into buying. Wouldn’t it be great, if you do your own insurance planning in an easy and efficient way?

Now you can, with Do It Your-way Insurance. DIY has helped thousands of people save money on their insurance needs. DIY is a platform where you decide what insurance you need, how much you need and how you want to buy it.

The Selfcheck function becomes your digital adviser that does a proper checkup and assessment of your life insurance needs automatically. It also lets you know if you have a surplus or shortfall in your current insurance coverage. In the case of a shortfall, the tool compares different plans for you and recommends the highest ranked policy which is closest to your needs.

DIY will also automatically match you with a salaried-based financial adviser if you require further advice or help and we will also rebate commissions back to you on the policy you choose. Since there is no obligation to buy anything, this gives you total freedom to choose what’s best for you without any sales pressure.

Find out why thousands of users trust DIY for their insurance needs. Give it a try for yourself to help ensure that your family and yourself can be covered sufficiently and in the most cost-effective manner.