Can’t tell AIA from AXA? When it comes to buying insurance, the brand of your policy might not matter, but it’s definitely helpful to know about the main insurance companies in Singapore.
The next time you need a portfolio review, rather than only getting quotes from whichever company your agent is from, you can also source policies from other insurance companies in the same field.
Insurance companies in Singapore: an overview
All insurance companies in Singapore are regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Insurers must have a licence to operate, and insurance brokers must be registered with MAS.
The Singapore insurance industry is represented by two non-profit trade associations — the Life Insurance Association (LIA) and the General Insurance Association (GIA). Both organisations set out industry guidelines and recommendations, but MAS has the final say.
All MAS-regulated insurance companies are obliged to abide by certain rules, so you can more or less be assured that they are not rogue, fly-by-night companies.
However, insurance companies are largely left to design their policies. And like any other product on the market, different policies have their own selling points and weaknesses.
For this reason, we recommend you compare multiple insurance policies before making a decision. You might find a similar product at a lower price. Or, you might find a differently-designed product that’s more suited to your needs.
In this article, we’ll list the major insurance companies in 3 areas:
- Life insurance
- Health insurance
- General insurance
1. Life insurance companies in Singapore
If you’ve met an insurance agent to “talk about financial planning”, chances are he or she would be from a life insurer. Life insurance products tend to be complex, so agents play a big part in explaining and selling them.
Here are some major life insurance companies in Singapore:
These insurance companies are represented by the Life Insurance Association, and you can see the full list of LIA members here.
Life insurance is one of the biggest umbrella terms in the insurance world. At its most basic, term life insurance is a financial product that pays out in the event of your death (and that’s it). Here are some examples:
But there are much more complex life insurance products that combine this death payout with a chance to grow your wealth, such as whole life insurance, endowment plans, savings plans for retirement or otherwise, and investment-linked plans (ILPs). An example of a whole life insurance policy below.
2. Health insurance companies in Singapore
All Singaporeans and PRs are auto-covered by basic health insurance, known as MediShield Life, which is administered by the government. But about 70% of us also upgrade them with private insurance. The resulting hybrid private/government health insurance is known as Integrated Shield Plans or IPs.
IPs are provided by the following 7 insurance companies:
IPs are heavily regulated by the Ministry of Health, so, unlike life insurance products, health insurance policies are quite similar in terms of their protection tiers. It’s easier to compare health insurance plans apple-to-apple. Here are some examples:
- Max. Annual Coverage Limit
- Pre-Hospitalisation Benefit
- 180 days
- Post-Hospitalisation Benefit
- 365 days
The plans are renewed annually, so you can switch to a different plan without much fuss in the early years before you get any illnesses that would count as pre-existing conditions.
There are other insurance companies not on the list that provide international or expat health insurance, but for most Singaporeans and PRs, IPs make the most financial sense.
3. General insurance companies in Singapore
General insurance products are much simpler than health and life insurance, and do not require any kind of health declaration. So it’s a lot easier to compare and purchase general insurance online.
Out of the long list of GIA member companies, here’s a list of the major general insurance companies:
- Hong Leong Assurance
- Liberty Insurance
- NTUC Income
- Tiq by Etiqa
Each company has its own mix of general insurance products — and there are many types. So you will first need to find out which companies offer the type that you are looking for.
Let’s say you want to buy car insurance. Your next step would be to find out which insurers offer it. One way is to use MoneySmart’s car insurance wizard to view the list of available insurance products.
Generally speaking (pun not intended), general insurance policies for individuals tend to be low-commitment. Brand doesn’t matter that much so long as you compare key terms and make sure you are not caught out by exclusions.
So, does brand matter when it comes to insurance?
Not as much as you might think. Insurance policies are contracts — so if you read through and understand the contract, you should not have to worry about not receiving a payout where you are legally promised one.
However, there are a few considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when comparing insurance products.
Claims process: Don’t assume your agent is going to be around with the insurer forever. It’s worth checking out how user-friendly the claims process is in case you ever need to DIY your claim. The claims process and lead time varies widely from insurer to insurer.
User-friendliness: Unless you have an agent doing all the troublesome legwork for you, you’ll want to look at how user-friendly the buying and policy management processes are. All other things being equal, we prefer being able to manage our policies online with a more digitally-savvy insurer.
Credit rating: For long-term commitments like whole life insurance, you may want to check the credit rating of the various insurers and go for one with a better rating for the assurance that it won’t go bust. That being said, due to MAS’s iron grip, even insurers with “lower” credit ratings are quite secure.
Cash value or investment returns: On the other hand, if you’re concerned about your policy’s cash value or investment returns, you might be interested in this 2016 report indicating that bigger insurers like Great Eastern, AIA and Prudential enjoyed better returns from 2006 to 2015.
Conclusion: Choosing the right insurance company
To recap, brand name isn’t all that important when it comes to buying insurance. Just because you have a life insurance policy from Insurance Company A doesn’t mean you should get all your other policies from them in a show of brand loyalty.
Instead, your criteria should vary depending on the type of policy you’re buying.
For hybrid policies with a life insurance component like investment-linked policies, you might be concerned about your returns, and rightly so. On the other hand, for travel insurance, an easy claims process might be at the forefront of your mind.
Rather than worry about which company you’re buying from, it’s more important to compare insurance policies across different companies.
Not to toot our own horn, but MoneySmart can help you compare many types of insurance policies like travel, health and motor insurance, making the decision-making process so much easier. Try it out today!
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