Income, Great Eastern raise Integrated Shield premiums

NTUC Income and Great Eastern (GE) are the latest insurers here to raise the premiums of their Integrated Shield Plans (IPs), in the wake of hikes by their rivals - though the rises come with some sweeteners.

The premiums of Income's Enhanced IncomeShield Preferred plan relating to private hospitals have been increased by between 5 per cent and 15 per cent from March 1.

Its Assist rider on this IP also saw a premium hike of between 10 and 30 per cent from the same date.

GE will raise the premiums of its "as charged" private hospital plan by 2 per cent to 4.2 per cent.

It has started sending letters to affected policyholders on its premium revision and the introduction of a new rider, which will be effective from May 1 upon their renewals.

Mr Lee Swee Kiang, GE head of group product management, said: "For our IP ("as charged") plan for private hospitals, the average premium increase is the lowest in the market."

The insurers are raising IP premiums now that a 12-month moratorium - imposed when MediShield Life was introduced on Nov 1, 2015 - has expired.

Soon after, AIA, Aviva and Prudential raised their premiums.

AIA raised its premiums by 2 per cent to 23 per cent, while Aviva raised its IP premiums by between 10 per cent and 25 per cent, and Prudential hiked its premiums by 8.8 per cent to 36.6 per cent.

The increases apply to IPs that cover private hospitals.

There are six IP insurers, and AXA may be the last one to revise premiums, as it began offering IPs only in May last year.

The Income and GE premium hikes come with some enhancements.

In the case of Income, they include increasing the IP's annual policy limit to $1 million, reducing by half the waiting period for a claim against congenital abnormalities, doubling the coverage of pregnancy complications, and including breast reconstruction after mastectomy and cosmetic surgery after an accident.

For GE, the annual policy limit will increase up to $1.5 million and the post-hospitalisation follow-up goes up to 180 days.

Mr Andrew Yeo, general manager of life and health at Income, said the need to lift IP premiums is a result of escalating claims costs.

Claims for IPs covering treatment in private hospitals have risen by 17 per cent a year in the past few years, faster than claims for that in public hospitals.

On Wednesday, Prudential announced a new claims and age- based pricing approach for the PRUshield extra A Premier rider of its IP covering private hospitals, effective from May 1.

Affected Prudential customers could see their rider's renewal premiums increase by up to three times.

Conversely, they will enjoy a 10 per cent discount on renewal premiums if there are no claims in the past three policy years .

Mr Andre Czanik, managing director of health insurance at AXA Insurance, said premiums for AXA Shield and its riders have been unchanged since its launch last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'Income, Great Eastern raise Integrated Shield premiums'. Print Edition | Subscribe