Dengue, Food poisoning, PMD accidents. Did you know you can claim these from your personal accident insurance? Here’s what else you need to know.
Think about personal accident insurance, and you might imagine major car accidents, critical injuries and other similarly catastrophic events to warrant a claim. But did you know, you can actually claim for milder, smaller accidents as well?
This is a very common misconception among consumers, according to Alfred Chia, the CEO of financial advisory firm SingCapital. He explained that personal accident insurance plans used to only provide coverage for major accidents, but that many insurers had improved on the coverage and benefits of these plans over the years amid growing competition in the industry. “So now, people can use their personal accident insurance to insure against daily mishaps.”
Making Personal Accident Insurance personal again
As Chia explains, personal accident insurance covers anything from a sprained ankle to a cut on the finger, and is not limited to conventional medical claims. “Not enough people buy personal accident plans, because they don’t realise how much it can cover. Even if your injury only requires visits to a chiropractor or a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner, you can claim for your treatments from your personal accident insurance plan,” he says.
In fact, Chia is such a firm believer in personal accident insurance, that he purchased the policies for himself and his family, and has already benefited from it.
Over a year ago, Chia sprained his leg while jogging, and decided to treat it at his regular TCM practitioner. When the condition did not improve, he went to a specialist and did a MRI scan. The MRI revealed a severe muscle bruise and Chia was given 1 week of medical leave to rest.
“In total – including my initial TCM treatments – I paid less than $2000, and my personal accident plan paid for everything. How much is my premium? $100 a year.”
To be sure, every personal accident insurance plan sets claims limits on each accident, depending on the coverage one purchases. “For more major injuries where you need to be hospitalised, or you lose a finger or a toe, the limit for such claims is much higher,” Chia adds.
Coverage beyond medical treatment
Lawrence Lim, an advisor at SingCapital, shared his own claims experience. Sometime in April 2016, Lim had just completed a jogging session near SAFRA Punggol when it started raining. He decided to seek shelter at the building when he slipped and fell on the staircase, hitting his head.
He visited a private clinic, took an x-ray, and the doctor found nothing wrong with him. Fortunately, on the advice of his family members, he sought a second opinion and did a MRI scan which found a fracture behind his jaw. He was given two options: open surgery which would require a 6-month long recovery period, or to leave it alone and see if it would heal on its own.
“I decided to leave it, I am not that young and I did not want to take that risk,” Lim said.
Fortunately for Lim, SAFRA’s insurer paid for his medical treatment which amounted to $3000, and provided additional compensation to him as the injury occurred within their premises. But he was prepared nonetheless. “I had my own personal accident plan, so I knew that if I can’t claim from SAFRA, I would be able to rely on my claims for my injury,” said Lim, who pays $300 per year in premiums for his personal accident plan.
He learned from that experience that he was not allowed to claim medical reimbursement for his accident from both insurers. Instead, he opted to receive a weekly income of about $1,000 from his own personal accident plan for every week that he was on medical leave and was unable to return to work.
Personal Accident Insurance in the light of PMD accidents
Chia believes the coverage and affordability of personal accident insurance makes it even more relevant today, to the growing numbers of PMD users.
PMDs have become a hot button topic, from home fires, to accidents involving the elderly and young children, and a recent video of a modified PMD clocking 150km/hr on Singapore roads that enraged netizens. Amid calls for stricter regulation and enforcement, one thing remains clear: PMDs – and their benefits for last mile deliveries and daily commutes – are here to stay.
But with more PMDs on the streets, more accidents are bound to occur. According to the Minister for Transport, Khaw Boon Wan, there were 228 reported accidents involving personal mobility devices (PMDs) on public paths in 2017 and 2018. Of these, 196 cases had reported injuries, 32 of which involved major injuries like fractures and concussions. There was just one fatality recorded during the period, of a PMD rider who self-skidded and succumbed to his injuries.
“With all these PMDs, if a PMD rider gets injured, how are they going to claim for it? If you have a personal accident plan, that is something you can claim for, and it will cover things like medical treatments, and other more serious injuries,” says Chia.
Coverage for unusual accidents
Interestingly, the coverage offered by some personal accident plans extends into ailments that you would not typically consider an accident.
For instance, the treatment for dengue fever is covered by some personal accident plans.
As of July, dengue fever has already claimed the lives of 9 persons this year, 4 of which within the past 1 month. Reported dengue cases remain high at 8,020 to date, more than five times from the cases seen in the same period in 2018, including a record 666 cases reported within a week in early July. NEA has stated on its website that dengue fever peaks from the months of June to October.
Other conditions that may be covered include Zika fever, MERS, SARS, HFMD, and Malaria, amongst others.
At the same time, some personal accident plans cover injury or accidental death arising from drowning, suffocation, and even food poisoning. That last point is particularly poignant, as the spate of food poisoning cases in late 2018 that resulted in the death of one man, the closure of Spize’s River Valley restaurant, and suspensions for many other caterers, remain fresh in people’s memories.
Filling the gap left by other life insurance policies
So what can’t you claim from a Personal Accident Insurance plan?
“General exclusions include self-inflicted injuries, injuries due to sickness, and the injuries must be genuine,” says Chia. As Chia explains, SingCapital takes time to advise their clients on their personal accident insurance policies and helps them through their claims process, because they believe in the product even though it is a low premium cost policy – protection starts from as low as $100 per year.
“Personal accident insurance plans fill in the gap left by other policies. You have your life policy for very serious cases, you have your hospitalisation plan for critical illnesses where you need to be admitted,” he says.
“What happens with everything else? What if you lose a finger or your toe? Both plans will not be able pay but your personal accident plan will be able to pay if it is due to an accident.”
It is Chia’s personal hope that more people would get personal accident insurance, given its coverage and how affordable it is, and how frequently accidents happen.
“We have seen claims where a lady wearing high heels fell when running after the bus. You can imagine all the scars she got. The insurance company she had her personal accident plan with paid for her treatment due to the fall, but the only thing they couldn’t pay for was her embarrassment.”