New rules on claims kick in

Changes aim to cut disputes between insurers and clients, says industry body

Updated rules that will minimise claim disputes between insurers and customers about delays or the lack of premium payments take effect today.

The new rules apply to all general insurance policies, including motor and travel plans, the General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) said in a media release yesterday.

The main thing is that consumers must pay premiums to the insurer or intermediaries where necessary, on or before the policy starts - also known as the inception date - or coverage renewal.

If the total premium is not paid, there will be no cover and the insurer will not pay for the benefits.

The new rules recommend that when there are special cases of no payment, insurers should review those on a case-by-case basis, and within a reasonable time, for a fair outcome.

TRANSPARENCY

It makes it clearer to the general public when their coverage starts and ends. Likewise, it provides greater clarity to the general insurers in the industry. At its core, it removes any source of disputes that could potentially arise.

MR DEREK TEO, chief executive of GIA.

GIA highlighted some important points consumers should keep in mind. When renewing existing motor policies, insurers will inform customers that they need to renew these at least 30 business days before the expiry date.

When buying personalised policies such as travel insurance through online channels and AXS machines, the coverage starts only when payment is deemed successful through the gateway. If there are insufficient funds and the like, insurers will not be obliged to provide coverage.

For commercial policyholders such as businesses and government organisations, they may pay within 60 days from the policy inception date.

Also, an insurer underwriting a new policy should not start providing cover without written confirmation from the previous insurer.

The GIA noted: "This latest move is aimed at raising practice standards specifically relating to cases involving non-disclosure and payment by policyholders."

The body's chief executive, Mr Derek Teo, said: "The key point in the revision of the premium framework is about introducing certainty to all the parties involved.

"It makes it clearer to the general public when their coverage starts and ends. Likewise, it provides greater clarity to the general insurers in the industry. At its core, it removes any source of disputes that could potentially arise."

A survey was done in March 2014 to get feedback on the effectiveness and value of the framework surrounding the premiums, and a consultation paper was issued in June last year.

Mr Teo believes that these rules will raise transparency between all parties involved in a general insurance contract.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline 'New rules on claims kick in'. Print Edition | Subscribe