Aviva, Prudential set to be first to declare Integrated Shield Plan premium hikes

The logo of Prudential Singapore.
The logo of Prudential Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

Insurers Aviva and Prudential are expected to be the first to tell policyholders that their premiums for Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) are going up.

The rises are tipped to be announced next month after the 12-month moratorium, imposed when MediShield Life was introduced on Nov 1 last year, is lifted.

The Straits Times understands that the average premium increases will be between 9 per cent and 15 per cent and are likely to impact IPs covering private hospitals.

This is because the number and dollar amount of claims made at private hospitals have shot up compared with those at public hospitals.

Six insurers offer IPs here, with AXA the last to get on the bandwagon in May. The others are AIA, Aviva, Great Eastern, Prudential and NTUC Income.

Prudential said that the premium revision reflects an environment of rising medical and claims costs.

It is only a matter of time before the other IP providers announce their premium hikes.

NTUC Income has said it will increase the premiums of some plans next year. Sources said the company's premium increase may not be confined to the highest-class IPs as its claims experience appeared to be broad-based.

As AXA is the new kid on the block, observers say that it is unlikely that the French insurer will raise premiums until its first year as an IP provider is up, at the very least. AXA declined to comment.

The potential timing of Aviva's and Prudential's IP renewal letters announcing the premium increase indicates that the affected customers would be those whose renewals are up in December.

There is typically a 30-day notice period before plan changes are made for existing policyholders, so those whose IP policies are renewed in November get to enjoy another 12 months with their premium rates maintained.

According to sources, the affected Aviva and Prudential customers will be those who own IPs covering private hospitals.

Moving forward, Prudential plans to offer enhanced benefits to new and existing policyholders of IPs that cover private hospitals, and public hospitals with A wards.

The policy annual limits will be raised to $1.2 million and $600,000 respectively.

These IP customers also enjoy a higher benefit of a 365-day post- hospitalisation cover, up from the current 180 days.

AXA offers the longest post-hospitalisation cover among IP insurers at 365 days, as well as the highest policy annual limit at $1 million.

Aviva is likely to remove some benefits for new IP customers with effect from Nov 15, according to sources.

This could include lowering the number of medical conditions in which a five-year moratorium underwriting can be applied.

The moratorium allows certain pre-existing conditions to be covered after an absence of symptoms, treatment or medication for five years from the time the policy is in force.

It has been reported that AIA and Great Eastern have been making only marginal profits on IP policies, with Aviva, Prudential and Income racking up losses.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2016, with the headline 'Aviva, Prudential set to be first to declare IP premium hikes'. Print Edition | Subscribe