Forum: Agent commissions not a cost without value in health insurance

Senior health correspondent Salma Khalik's opinion piece is comprehensively written (Why private health insurance practices need fixing, Dec 10).

However, we would like to point out that her questioning of whether it is justified for insurance practitioners to receive commissions as long as the policy is in force puts insurance practitioners in a bad light.

Every insurance practitioner can testify that the servicing required when advising and assisting the client in placing the policy and making claims way outweighs the commission received by the practitioner.

The implicit argument that there are people with health insurance who have not made a single claim in decades and should not be incurring commissions is unfair. Insurance is a risk-pooling product; risk is uncertain and so an insurance policy puts a certainty (financial protection) onto an uncertain event.

Therefore, it is not possible to design a product in which the client pays a higher premium when the need to make a claim occurs, so that the insurance practitioners can get paid for the work done.

In fact, the rise in premiums is primarily the consequence of underestimation of claims and medical cost inflation. The commission received by insurance practitioners is in the low single-digit percentage of the premiums collected. Removing that would not have a significant impact on premiums.

There are many insurance practitioners who are working diligently and quietly behind the scenes to ensure financial protection for families (and businesses) against premature death, disability, critical illness and medical risk.

And as an association, we marshalled our members to educate the public on MediShield Life voluntarily at the national level from 2015 to 2016. To imply that the remuneration received by an insurance practitioner is a cost without value is an unfair judgment.

Carlos Lee


Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore

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