Mr. Tan Whee Boon ate raw fish, commonly known as yusheng, but ends up having food poisoning due to the bacterial in the fish. His hands and feet have to be amputated (source: Father-of-two has hands and feet amputated after severe bout of food poisoning .)
Mr. Tan, who is 50 years old, incurred a medical bill of $30,000 and has lost his income. Prior to this incident, he was working as a technician and is a sole breadwinner with two children – a son 14 and daughter 15. A facebook page has been setup to raise fund for his medical bills and loss of income: Appeal for donation to Mr Tan Whee Boon (if you want to donate, please read my advice at the end of this article).
I was asked what kind of insurance would have helped in such a situation.
Hospital & Surgical Insurance
A hospital & surgical insurance would have definitely help with the medical bills. It will be compulsory for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents to be insured with Medishield Life by end of this year. However, Medishield Life is meant for B2 and C class ward. Most people are insured with a Private Integrated Shield plan which would help to pay for most - if not all of the entire hospital medical bills.
Total and Permanent Disability (TPD)
Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) is normally a rider attached to a life insurance policy. There is no standard definition for TPD and it varies from insurer to insurer.
However, the severance or loss of use of both hands generally qualifies for TPD claim. There is no TPD rider that covers for life. Normally it ends at 65 or 70 years old.
Long-term Care Insurance (i.e. Eldershield)
All Singaporean and Permanent Residents are automatically enrolled in the Basic Eldershield when they turn 40 years old. Basic Eldershield pays $300 a month for 5 years for those who turn 40 before September 2007. Eldershield pays $400 a month for 6 years for those who turn 40 in and after September 2007.
To qualify to claim from Eldershield, the individual must proof to be unable to perform 3 out of 6 of the Activities of Daily Living namely: Transferring, Mobility, Toileting, Dressing, Washing and Feeding. For Mr. Tan, he is not likely to be able to dress himself, wash himself and feed himself since he has lost the use of both hands.
One of the common complain of Basic Eldershield is that the amount is too low and the payout period is too short. The good news is that it is possible to upgrade to a larger payout and payout period.
I do not think critical illness (CI) coverage would help in this case. Looking at all the 37 definitions of the critical illness (HERE) , none of them seems to be claimable.
There is CI item called “Lost of Independent Existence” which was introduced just beginning of this year for policy issue this year onwards. On a surface, it looks like Eldershield type of definition as the individual is require to show proof to be unable to perform 3 out of 6 Activities of Daily Living. Unfortunately, this CI requires the individual to show proof to be unable perform these 3 activities whether aided or unaided! This means if an individual is unable to feed himself but can be fed by someone else, he is deemed to be able to feed himself!
Disability Income Insurance
Since Mr. Tan has lost his job probably because he no longer is able to perform as a technician, disability income insurance would definitely pay as he is no longer able to perform material duties of own occupation.
Insurance covering death
For Mr. Tan case, he is very much alive and hence cannot claim insurance that covers death.
If you want to donate
If you want to donate to Mr. Tan Whee Boon, I suggest you write a cheque in favour of him and write the POSB account number behind the cheque and drop into the Quick Cheque Deposit (QCD) box.
Do not transfer by internet banking for two main reasons: You cannot be sure the facebook page setup to raise fund for him is a fraud or not. You cannot be sure the POSB account number is genuine or otherwise. Second: When you transfer money using Internet Banking , the bank does not verify the name of the payee you specify. It only uses the account number. If you make a mistake in the account number, you end up transferring to the wrong person.
If you don’t believe me, you just need conduct a simple experiment by transferring to yourself from one bank to another. Deliberately specify a fictitious payee say Tan Ah Kow. You will find your transfer will go through without a problem. Note that neither the bank nor police will help you to retrieve the incorrectly transferred money because of “Finders Keepers”. See Legal to keep mistakenly wired funds? (Straits Time Forum, 13 July 2015).
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