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Protect the elderly from unscrupulous insurance promoters

All kinds of insurance policies are offered at numerous locations and occasions such as road shows, expos and pasar malams (Understand the ins and outs of insurance to avoid losses; Dec 17).

Some insurance promoters have no qualms about the marketing strategies they use to attract customers to buy their policies.

Most such promoters remind their target audience of the ageing process, when they will no longer be independent or able to generate income after reaching retirement age, and become a burden to their offspring. This is enough to instil fear and anxiety in retirees or those near retirement.

Another scary scenario painted is the possibility of becoming paralysed, bedridden or comatose owing to diseases or accidents.

These things can happen in the blink of an eye, say the promoters. So customers need insurance to cover all expenses that may be incurred when they are hospitalised, especially when their sickness is chronic or life-threatening, or requires urgent medical attention.

Promoters may go overboard and promise good returns if customers sign up for their policies.

This can be deceiving, especially for the elderly who are unable to comprehend the technicalities or understand the brochures.

This vulnerable group of people may become easy prey to all kinds of promises, and make hasty decisions.

When they do not get what they hope for, and the promises are undelivered during times of need, they regret contributing such a big sum of money as premiums. They are then in a dilemma as to whether to continue paying the premiums or terminate the policy.

Either way, they may turn out to be the losers.

Inconsistent and vague explanations given by promoters should come under greater scrutiny, and there must be stricter guidelines governing insurance agencies.

Syed Alwi Altahir

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 31, 2017, with the headline 'Protect the elderly from unscrupulous insurance promoters'. Print Edition | Subscribe