Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Surrendering Insurance Policies?

I read the news article a few weeks back about insurance agents/financial planner shifting around the various companies in Singapore with handsome buyout clauses and stuff. These insurance agents get paid lots of money just to jump ship from one insurance company to another company.

While that might be a concern to most people, it is important to note that if your insurance agent has switched companies, he or she is not supposed to induce you to lapse or surrender your existing insurance policies and buy a new policy from them. This unethical agents are just out to earn extra commission as they no longer earn the trailer commissions that they would have earned if they had stayed with the same company. When they join a new insurance company, they start from ground zero all again and have to start building up their client base all over again. The fastest and easiest way that they go about doing this is to ask their previous clients to take up new policies with them, often citing the benefits of doing so.

Some of them might even suggest that they can continue to "take care" of you. That is not the case as the insurance policy contract that one purchases and owns is an agreement between the insurance company and you. The insurance agent is just a distributor and does not own the clients in a legal sense. When your insurance agent leaves the industry or leaves the company, the insurance company will get another insurance agent to "service" you. If all else fails, just call the customer service hotline. That is the usual way I find out information and it is much faster than going through your insurance agent.

In the insurance industry, this malpractice of replacing old policies with new policies has led to agents being caught and fired. Many have also been disillusioned by the unethical conduct and have left the industry or lamblasted the industry. However, the practice is still very widespread. I have met with many insurance agents before and all of them have at certain points in time asked me to surrender one of my existing policy to buy a "better and newer" policy from them. This happens even when I have met IFAs.

This point has been elaborated by Mr Tan KL before at his blog. In most cases, surrendering your insurance policy does not make sense. This is especially so if you are asked to buy a similar insurance policy to replace the policy that you have surrendered or lapsed.

From a monetary point of view, it is very difficult to justify surrendering a policy for another policy. Always remember to get a 2nd or 3rd opinion when in doubt so that you can make a more informed decision. Better still, ask people like me who are not in the industry and you will probably get a more informed and independent opinion. Of course, you will have to buy me coffee =) .........Just kidding..

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