Singtel enters insurance market with cover for migrant workers; other products to come

(From left) Mr Arthur Lang, CEO of International at Singtel, Ms Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO of Singtel, Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower, Mr Andrew Yeo, CEO of NTUC Income, and Mr Yuen Kuan Moon, CEO of Consumer Singapore at Singtel. PHOTO: SINGTEL

SINGAPORE - After venturing into mobile payments and cyber security, Singtel is now entering the insurance market, offering free cover targeted mainly at migrant workers.

The telco announced on Thursday (July 25) that prepaid customers who buy a $2 prepaid data plan, or a $20 prepaid top-up, or send $100 through its Dash mobile remittance service will be entitled to a 30-day personal insurance plan underwritten by NTUC Income.

The company's consumer Singapore chief executive Yuen Kuan Moon said it could be of particular interest to low-wage migrant workers, whose biggest fear is loss of income - such as if they are hospitalised or lose their job - as many of their families rely on them.

Singtel will pay the premiums and the plans require no paperwork or medical underwriting. They can be applied for through the hi!App or Singtel Dash app.

Mr Yuen said that with the digitalisation of the application and claims process, it is now possible to offer insurance plans with very low premiums.

"That will create a lot of new opportunities for us to address," he said, adding that more insurance products will be introduced over the coming months.

"With the scale of Singtel, with (our) digital capabilities, we are able to make insurance affordable, easy and accessible," he told the launch event, which was attended by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling.

Prepaid customers who buy the $2, 30-day 50MB Protect data plan will be eligible for a cash payout of up to $5,000 in the event of permanent disability or accidental death, a $3,000 cash payout if they lose their job after more than four days of hospitalisation, daily hospital income, and a get-well benefit of 1GB of data to use.

Customers who make a $20 top-up of a prepaid card by the end of this year will also be entitled to most of those benefits.

Dash customers who remit at least $100 will be entitled to a 30-day policy that provides a cash payout of up to $5,000 in the event of permanent disability or accidental death.

The three insurance plans are stackable.

NTUC Income chief executive Andrew Yeo, who also spoke at the event at Singtel's Comcentre in Somerset, said the initiative recognises the contributions of migrant workers to Singapore.

It aims to make insurance access simple and affordable as it "plays to their routine tasks and lifestyles as they top up credit in their mobile plans or make a remittance", he added.

There are about 1.2 million work permit and S-Pass holders working here, of whom more than 60 per cent are Singtel's prepaid customers or Dash users, said Mr Yuen.

Singtel and the other two major telcos - StarHub and M1 - have seen their profit margins eroded in recent years with the entrance of new competitors offering cheap data-heavy plans.

Singtel's underlying net profit for the last financial year, when stripped of one-off events, fell 21.4 per cent year-on-year to $2.83 billion.
Dash is part of Singtel's efforts to diversify beyond mobile services. The group has also said that it is studying the feasibility of applying for a digital bank licence.

Workers or their families can make claims under the new plans with NTUC Income by calling 6788-6616 or via the website:

Employers of work permit holders must buy medical insurance for them with a minimum coverage of $15,000 per year.

The coverage was enough to meet 96 per cent of all inpatient and day surgery bills for domestic helpers in the last three years, the Manpower Ministry said previously.

For maids, employers must also buy personal accident insurance for them with a minimum coverage of $60,000, while for other work permit holders, employers must also buy work injury compensation insurance.

Filipino domestic worker Arlyn Panganiban, 31, said she sends $300 to $500 of her salary home through the Dash app every month to support her five-year-old daughter.

The single mother said: "If something happened to me I would want insurance so I can provide for my daughter's future."

Construction worker Tushar Hossain, 26, who spends $20 a month to get 2GB of data to video call his parents in Bangladesh every night, said the insurance product bundle would be useful.

He is able to save only about $100 a month for himself as he sends about $600 to $700 home to support his parents and youngest brother, who is in high school, and he worries this may not be enough for emergencies.

"When I'm working if there are any problems like I fall down or my body has problems, this (insurance) can give some extra money," he said.

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