Dear readers, sorry for the non-music related post but I’d just like to share my recent nightmarish experience in getting the NTUC IncomeShield insurance for my baby.
Here's the timeline of events:
- Met with advisor to sign the policy documents.
- Advisor took pictures of the health booklet. All documents including the jaundice test results were in the booklet.
04/08/15 (Day 0)
- Received insurance policy booklet.
- - On checking, we realized that the advisor had not gone through the health questionnaire with us but had filled up the questionnaire at his own discretion – simply ticked ‘no’ for all questions.
- Some questions were incorrectly filled up because of my baby’s transient mild jaundice condition (but no phototherapy needed).
- Contacted advisor and he replied that he will check with his manager.
- Decided against contacting NTUC Income directly to give the advisor one redemption chance. Besides he promised to expedite the rectification process (which turned out to be crap).
- When asked, advisor replied that his manager has emailed the life department to enquire about the issue.
- No updates. When asked, advisor replied they will be mailing me a questionnaire to fill up.
- Did not receive any mail from NTUC. Checked with advisor. He replied ‘noted’.
- Decided to contact NTUC Income after all the delays and lack of initiatives from the advisor.
- Emailed NTUC income to raise the issue.
- Received message from advisor claiming that they are still looking into the matter and ask to give more time.
- Called NTUC hotline to enquire about the hiccups and delays. Customer service officer replied that the questionnaire has been ‘dropped in the mail’ and I will received it in 7-10 working days.
- Received a matter-of-fact email from an NTUC representative to follow up the email enquiry (20/08/15).
- In the email, there was not the slightest hint of any wrong-doing of their staff or any apology for the inconvenience caused!
- Replied that I have yet to receive the questionnaire and requested for softcopy so that I can submit via email.
- Received softcopy of questionnaire from NTUC representative.
- Completed and submitted questionnaire plus supporting documents on the same day.
- The email was signed off with a request for acknowledgement of receipt of documents.
- No reply. Sent a follow-up email to request for acknowledgement.
- Finally received acknowledgement from NTUC representative after 2 weeks. She said that she is unable to open some documents.
- Resent the documents.
- Representative replied via email saying that she has submitted it to the underwriter for review.
- No updates up till now. When contacted, advisor says there have been no news from the underwriters and he will try to ‘hound’ them.
- Received call from a representative from the Health department to update on the process.
- Was told that the underwriters have already made a decision; there will be exclusions imposed but she still does not know what they are. It will take a few working days for the letter to be drafted.
- Requested for the softcopy letter to be emailed to me and she promised to send it to me as soon as it is out.
- Received call from the manager handling the case to assure me that they are looking into the matter.
- She asked if I’d like to lodge a formal complaint against the advisor and I replied ‘no’
- I reinstated what I’m looking for is for the matter to be resolved asap and for NTUC Income to acknowledge the mistake of their staff which caused all these inconveniences for us.
- Received email about the exclusion imposed.
- It is not for the jaundice condition but for ‘head lag’ which was mentioned in the 3-month developmental checkup (‘mild head lag’)
- The 3-month developmental checkup would not have come into the picture had we filled up the questionnaire and submitted all relevant documents at the point of signup. Why are we so sure? Because the application with Zurich in the same period was accepted without exclusions on submission of all the reports plus development milestones up till that point!
- The email was very professionally worded but showed no consideration of the context or the feelings of the client e.g. ‘We are prepared to review the exclusion when head lag is resolved’ (highly authoritative tone; carries a connotation that we have done something wrong and therefore need their grace or pardon!) and ‘please submit the Review of Special Terms form together with an up-to-date medical report (at your expense), to include (where dates applicable): exact diagnosis, outcome of examination, development milestones, current health status management plan (matter-of-fact instruction on what needs to be done without any indication of apologetic sentiments for the extra inconvenience; note that we have to now pay more money and be subjected to their elaborate follow-up to address an issue that originated from the mistake of the advisor!)
- Now, we will have to wait (again!) for the next medical examination to get the clearance, take the time and effort to submit an appeal, and then suffer the agony of the long and protracted underwriting process once (again!). We can’t imagine how long more it is going to take before we get our peace of mind and for my baby gets the exclusion free coverage that he deserves.
- Emailed manager to raise the above concerns.
- Received reply from manager saying that she has forwarded the email to the Service Quality department and they require 10 working days to conduct an investigation.
- Requested for a Service Quality personnel to contact me to let me know what they intend to do.
- Received call from Service Quality personnel to inform about the investigation process and ask for evidence on my part.
- Submitted evidence via email.
- Received call from Service Quality personnel.
- Admitted that the issue was a lapse on their side after investigations.
- Informed us that they are working with the Underwriting department to resolve the issue and asked for more time.
- Emailed health report from latest developmental check
- Received email from Service Quality personnel.
- Issue finally resolved and my child finally got the exclusion-free policy that he deserved after 87 days!
So why are we so upset with the service from NTUC Income?
- What if we had not realized that the advisor had filled up the questionnaire at his own discretion? In the event if we had to file for claims, would NTUC reject the claims on grounds of ‘dishonesty’ in filling up the questionnaire? The advisor may have already left the company by then and we may not have proof that we had not been consulted in the filling of the questionnaire. Coincidentally, we heard of a related story where that had in fact happened!
- Throughout the episode (before I highlighted it), there was not the slightest expression of any wrong-doing of their staff or apology for the inconvenience caused. It was almost as though NTUC Income endorses the act and that we deserved the extra inconvenience caused due to the advisor’s misdeed.
- Empty and flippant promises throughout the episode. “Yes will check and get back to you” but no response for many days and each time we had to ask for updates. “Yes will expedite/ hound them” but issue not resolved after 2 months. So that’s NTUC’s definition of fast and expedited?
- The hardcopy questionnaire took 3 weeks to arrive from the time the advisor said they will be sending it to me! It was only after repeated requests for the softcopy questionnaire before we received it. Why couldn’t they have simply emailed the softcopy at the very start?
For the insurance application with Zurich, they required an additional health questionnaire as well. The advisor sent me a softcopy questionnaire via email, we replied on the same day and got a response from the underwriters within a week!
- The issue has yet to be settled after 2 months. Thankfully my boy stayed healthy. But what if he had developed some ailment in this period? Would the claims have been successful? Would the new ailments be put down as exclusions which would be extremely unfair since he was healthy at the very time of policy signing?
- [Update 07/10/15] I was told that there will be exclusions imposed on the existing policy and I can choose whether or not to continue with it. However, premiums have already been paid and so according to what I found out, only nominal refunds will be made in the event if we choose to discontinue it. So either ways, we get penalized for the advisor’s misdeed. How is that fair? Also, isn’t that some kind of dirty trick? Advisors fill up questionnaire at their discretion so as to gain policy inception; if customer doesn’t notice, (WIN!) because premiums will be paid but claims may be contested; if customer notices and raises issue, inclusions will be imposed (WIN! more difficult claims) and premiums partially forfeited if discontinued (WIN!).
Thanks for adding to our stress of being new parents, NTUC Income.