Pay for insurance as you jog, commute or snack

Income's Snack lets users build cover via tiny premiums as they complete daily activities

Mr Peter Tay, Income's chief digital officer, says Snack lowers the barrier of entry for purchasing insurance. Customers of Income's new product, Snack, can get tiny premiums of as little as 30 cents deducted from a credit card each time they use the
Customers of Income's new product, Snack, can get tiny premiums of as little as 30 cents deducted from a credit card each time they use their ez-link card for public transport.PHOTO: NTUC INCOME
Mr Peter Tay, Income's chief digital officer, says Snack lowers the barrier of entry for purchasing insurance. Customers of Income's new product, Snack, can get tiny premiums of as little as 30 cents deducted from a credit card each time they use the
Mr Peter Tay, Income's chief digital officer, says Snack lowers the barrier of entry for purchasing insurance.

Insurer NTUC Income has launched a product that lets customers build up insurance cover by adding tiny premiums of as little as 30 cents each time they undertake everyday activities such as buying snacks and taking public transport.

The accumulated payments can go towards term life, critical illness and personal accident policies, the firm said yesterday. Customers can stop payments at any time.

The aim of the product - called Snack - is to get around the sometimes daunting lump sum payment that an insurance policy typically requires customers to pay once a month or year.

This can deter students, gig economy workers or those who have just started work.

Snack works on the basis that a series of micro payments are less financially painful but do add up in the end.

Customers get started by downloading the Snack mobile app and then linking a credit or debit card to it. They can then choose their type of protection, such as term life, critical illness or personal accident, as well as the activity that triggers premium payments and the amount they are prepared to pay.

Each micro policy covers a customer for 360 days.

Income has initially partnered with ez-link, Fitbit and Burpple. Customers can get premiums deducted from a credit card every time they use their ez-link card for public transport.

They can also direct 30 cents or more to their Income policy via the Snack app when they redeem a meal deal on Burpple, while a user who hits 5,000 steps in a day using Fitbit will get the premium deducted from their card linked to Snack.

Income will check with Fitbit through its back-end processes and make the deduction.

Take a 25-year-old non-smoker. He can get $321 worth of critical illness cover each time he pays a premium of 30 cents while taking the bus and another $420 worth of accident cover if he adds on a premium of 50 cents while buying coffee.

He can stack a further $861 of term life coverage after taking 5,000 steps and paying a premium of 70 cents.

Other partners will be added to increase the range of lifestyle triggers that can be pegged to insurance payments.

Visa will join later this year to allow cardholders to buy insurance when they make purchases for entertainment, transport and groceries.

Mr Peter Tay, Income's chief digital officer, said: "Snack is offering consumers new... flexibility in protecting themselves, just by going about their daily activities.

"This makes insurance more accessible and relevant to everyone, keeping it easily adaptable to lifestyle needs and personal financial situations."

The initiative follows a scheme the firm set up in August last year to allow Grab drivers to build their insurance coverage by paying premiums of between 10 cents and 50 cents with each trip they complete.

Mr Tay said such schemes lower the barrier of entry for people who want to buy their first insurance policy.

"For those who are underinsured, they can either be new to insurance and find it complex or have tight cash flow which limits their willingness to purchase insurance."

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh from the National University of Singapore Business School said such a model can make protection accessible especially to lower-income segments. "There is no need to worry about forking out high premiums."

Ms Esther Yeoh, 24, a teacher, said: "Being an active Fitbit user, it seems like a good idea to try it as it'll also form part of my daily routine."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2020, with the headline 'Pay for insurance as you jog, commute or snack'. Subscribe