Why do I need Life Insurance?
Whether you are buying a term or whole life insurance, the purpose of life insurance is to protect you and your family's financial stability in the event you are diagnosed with total permanent disability, terminal illness, or even when you pass on.
Let's say you have a HDB BTO, two children, and elderly parents – but you are the only one drawing a monthly salary to support the family. If you pass on, your dependants (family members who rely on your income to live) may be left without any source of money to keep their lives going. Here's where your life insurance comes into play – your insurance company will give your family a lump-sum payout cheque (e.g. S$250,000) from the life insurance plan you have purchased.
This lump-sum payout amount is not random, it should be chosen by you (and your spouse) when you first apply for the life insurance plan. Basically, it should cover the needs of your family for a short period of time, for example, one year before your spouse goes on to find a new childcare arrangements for your children, and a new job to sustain the family.
Is Whole Life Insurance a good investment?
What are the pros and cons of whole life insurance plans? Whole vs term life insurance is one of those never-ending arguments – you're either a whole life insurance type of person, or you're a term insurance person. Universal life insurance? Forget it, those people won't be reading this page. Below, we list out the advantages and disadvantages of a whole life insurance plan:
In Singapore, the average Singaporean lives up to 82.9 years old (as of 2017). However, most term insurance plans only cover you up to 75 years old. That means, if you live past age 75 (aka outlive your plan), your term insurance plan will automatically end, and you will not get any money back. You can see your premiums as wasted, or thank your premiums for having offered you coverage up till an old ripe age of 75.
While term insurance does not guarantee any cash returns if you outlive your policy, an endowment whole life insurance accumulates cash value over the years and may even offer you a guaranteed (confirm you will get back) and non-guaranteed sum of cash if you outlive your policy (some whole life policies end at age 99 or 100).
Some people are drawn to the fact that some whole-life policies can be linked to investment funds – meaning the monthly S$300 or S$400 premiums that you pay will be pumped into your choice of investments. However, you don't get guaranteed cash returns with such plans since your money will be subject to the economy and market forces – yes, you could lose your money.
Whole life insurance plans' premiums generally cost 10 to 12 times more than term life insurance plans' premiums since they effectively cover you for a longer period of time (up to age 99, 100, or death depending on your policy). If you are in the late 20s, your annual whole life premiums start from around S$4,000 per year for just S$250,000 sum assured (your death payout).
Some individuals believe that your children or dependants don't necessarily depend on you their entire lives. At some point, your children will be financially independent and they will no longer need your whole life insurance payout to survive when you pass on. Therefore, these people believe that it's not worth forking out so much from your retirement funds (S$10,000 upwards annually in your 50s and 60s) for a whole life insurance if your children are financially independent.
If you purchased a whole life investment-linked policy (ILPs), and you and your insurance agent or advisor are both not familiar with the funds, you may quite easily lose your money paid in premiums (and a lot of people have so). Also, whole life ILPs are meant for the long-haul and if you need immediate cashflow (new house for new baby on the way etc.), then it might result in losses when you surrender your plan early.
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Whole Life Insurance Premiums
Wonder how much whole life plans' insurance premiums will cost? Here is a list of sample premiums from different whole life plans sorted according to age and increasing life stages.
S$4,911 per year for Manulife LifeReady Plus with a base coverage of S$100,000, a 3X multiplier (for a total boosted coverage of S$300,000 only until 70 years old), and early critical illness, and critical illness riders
S$2,908 per year for NTUC Star Assure with a base sum assured of S$100,000, a 3X multiplier (for a total of S$300,000 until 70 years old), and 3 riders
S$7,800 per year for AVIVA MyWholeLife Plan III with a base sum assured of S$500,000 coverage, with 100% additional coverage (for a total S$1 million only up to age 65), and no riders
S$4,977 per year for Tokio Marine Legacy LifeFlex with a base coverage of S$500,000, 2 riders, and a 10 times booster for the riders (with a total coverage of S$500,000 in riders)
S$4,680 per year for AXA Life Treasure with a base sum of S$90,000, with a 5X multiplier benefit (for a total boosted coverage of S$450,000), and critical illness, and accidental death riders
S$4,000 per year for China Taiping I-Secure with a base coverage of S$100,000, a 2X multiplier (for a total of $200,000 coverage until age 86), and no riders
What types of Life Insurance are there?
What Are The 3 Types Of Life Insurance?
Whole Life Insurance
Offers you a lump-sum payout in the event of disability, terminal illness, critical illness (depends on your choice of plan), and death, with possible cash returns – for your entire life.
Who is it for?
Young adults, professionals, and homeowners
Term Life Insurance
Offers you and your family a lump-sum payout in case you are disabled, terminally ill, critically ill (optional), or in the event of your death – up to a certain age only, e.g. 75 years old.
Who is it for?
Fresh graduates, first-time insurance buyers, and first-jobbers
Universal Life Insurance
Often offered to high net-worth individuals, a Universal Life insurance plan offers you the usual whole life death benefits – although with the flexibility to change your sum assured and premiums anytime, and the premiums you pay can be investment-linked.
Who is it for?
High and ultra-high net-worth individuals considering legacy planning
Term vs Life Insurance
So, you've heard of people buying term life insurance, and others buying whole life plans (commonly referred to as life insurance in short) – but what are the similarities and differences between term and whole life insurance?
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance covers you for a fixed period of time (also why it's named term) – mostly until 75 years old. That means, if you are diagnosed with terminal illness, total permanent disability, or pass away before 75 years old, your family will receive the lump-sum payout you were assured for. However, if you outlive your plan (aka live beyond age 75), your term insurance plan will automatically end and you will not get any of your money back.
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance on the other hand, commonly covers you up to age 99, 100, or death (depends on your insurance company). If you outlive your plan, you will get guaranteed and non-guaranteed cash returns. You will also be able to add a multiplier (sometimes known as additional coverage) for a fixed number of years to boost the total sum you're assured for. Whole life insurance premiums generally cost 10 times more than term insurance due to the length and flexibility of coverage.
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When should I get Life Insurance?
A general rule of thumb is this – the younger you are, the lower and cheaper your premiums will be since you will likely have lesser health issues. So, if you are in your 20s, you might want to start thinking and shopping for insurance. Life insurance may not the most romantic date-night topic to think and talk about, but you will need to bring this up at some point in your adulting and BTO aka family planning journey.
Who Is Whole Life Insurance Suitable For?
If you're reading this, you must be considering purchasing a life insurance policy. However, you may still be wondering if you should buy whole life insurance or term insurance. To make things a little easier, here are the profiles of people who usually end up buying whole life insurance. Remember, there's really no right or wrong – everyone's lives, needs, priorities, and circumstances are different.
How do I apply for a Whole Life Insurance Plan?
Applying for a Life Insurance Plan through MoneySmart
Answer Some Questions
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Speak To Our Insurance Specialists
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Apply And Purchase Your Life Insurance
Once you have spoken to our insurance specialists, considered your options, and planned your finances, you are ready to apply for your life insurance plan online through our portal.
Life Insurance Beginner Guides
Here are 3 beginner guides that you can read and bookmark for easy reference:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is life insurance?
- Life insurance serves to protect your family's financial health and status. To understand how life insurance works, you must first understand the intention and purpose behind life insurance plans. Everyone who has bought life insurance has asked themselves this same question: "When I die, how will my elderly parents, spouse, or children pay for my funeral bills, medical expenses, home loans and bills, school fees, and sustain their daily lives? If I'm no longer around to provide for them, how much money will they need?" Since it involves the survival and lives of immediate family members, people do take their life insurance plans very seriously. That also explains why there is so much talk about life insurance plans. Now that you understand the intention behind life insurance, you will also understand that the many types of life insurance plans you see out there (most commonly whole and term) addresses different family needs for people of all walks of lives – some people have extremely high sum assured like S$500,000 for their children and spouse's survival, while some only sign up for S$100,000 to foot their funeral bills (but they multiply their coverage by 5X to get a total of S$500,000 until age 70 to support their children while they are still studying). At the end of the day, the sum assured (the lump-sum payout) that you get via life insurance should sufficiently cover your family's essential expenses.
Can life insurance be transferred to another company?
- No, you cannot transfer your life insurance plan from your current insurance company to another. Why? The answer is quite simple – the life insurance policy contract that you signed when you applied for this life insurance plan is a contract. In fact, all insurance plans are contracts which legally brings you into a relationship with your insurance company. You've heard this before from your insurance agent – your insurance company has to honour the promises laid out in the policy contract. Likewise, you have to honour your promises as per the contract as well. Still not too sure what that means? Okay here's an easy one – you can't buy a MacDonald's Big Mac Extra Value Meal and bring it into a KFC outlet to dine-in. They are rival companies with different products, and obviously you can't expect them to welcome each others' products.
Does life insurance pay if you die of cancer?
- Yes. If you die of a natural cause such as cancer, your life insurance will cover you and offer your family the lump-sum payout you have been assured for. However, that's given that you have been honest and regularly updating your insurance agent and company of your medical conditions, such as the diagnosis of cancer, and any related pre-existing conditions etc. Also, you will only be eligible for your payout if your death was purely caused by cancer and you didn't participate in any high-risk, dangerous activities such as bungee jumping, scuba diving etc. that may have resulted in your death. If you have been diagnosed with a terminal cancer (given less than 12 months to live)< check your life insurance policy to see if terminal illness is included in the default list of benefits. If it is, you may be able to get your full payout.
How does age affect life insurance?
- Your age primarily affects your life insurance premiums – as you grow older, your annual insurance premiums will increase as well. Why? That's because as you age, you are at higher risk of illnesses, medical conditions, and death. Also, there's the issue of pre-existing conditions. As compared to someone in his 40s, someone in his early 20s applying for a life insurance plan will most likely have lesser medical history and past illnesses logged in his medical records as well – therefore lesser pre-existing conditions and lower medical risk involved.
How is life insurance profitable?
- On an individual level, do note that life insurance should not be seen as an investment product if you are considering buying life insurance as a way to grow your wealth. Instead, there are better avenues for financial investment. For insurance agents and financial advisors, the life insurance plans you purchase continually pays them a percentage in commission monthly or annually as long as your policy is still in force (aka you are still paying insurance premiums for it). Finally, for insurance companies, how do they profit from life insurance plans? Insurance companies profit when they receive more money paid by consumers like us in premiums as compared to the claims they've had to pay out in the same year. They also profit when the stock market performs well, and likewise the investments they've made with our premiums are performing equally well.
Should I buy life insurance for my child?
- Buying life insurance for a newborn, toddler, or child can be a pretty divisive topic. There are 2 schools of thought in Singapore – for and against – and your stance will largely depend on your beliefs, financial status, and the long-term plans you have for your child. People who believe that do not need to buy life insurance for your children often reason that: one, you child is not financially active and does not have dependents; two, at such a young age your child is unlikely to pass on or be diagnosed with critical or terminal illnesses; three, child life insurance is a marketing gimmick and there are better investment products for you to save up money to gift your child when you pass on. On the other hand, parents who are supportive of purchasing life insurance for their children often cite: one, you should never skimp and save on your child's insurance coverage as you never know if when he/ she may be diagnosed with a critical or terminal illness; two, a payout from your child's policy will enable you to pursue medical treatments and even allow you to stop work to give him/ her full-time attention and care; three, if your child were diagnosed with a long-term illness at a young age, this will affect his/ her eligibility when applying for future insurance plans in adulthood.
Should I get term or whole life insurance?
- Not too sure if you should get term or whole life insurance? It largely depends on your personal beliefs, priorities, and financial status. If you strongly believe in having insurance coverage till the end of your life, then you should look into getting a whole life plan. However, if you don't prioritise a lifelong insurance plan and are comfortable with a shorter plan covering you up to 75 years old, you can consider a term insurance. Do note that whole life plans are generally more costly than term insurance plans – on average, the annual insurance premiums of a whole life insurance plan is 10 times more than that of a term life plan's.