Mixed Outcomes for Dropped Aviva Customers in Singapore
On February 1st, 2013, health insurer Aviva ended renewals in Singapore for both its IdealMedical and Global Health insurance plans, which left thousands of people facing a scenario in which they would be without health insurance. Luckily for many in this group, international health insurance company Bupa International, via its partnership with Raffles Health Insurance (RHI) in Singapore, stepped in with an opportunity for the potential uninsured to maintain continual health coverage.
The biggest problem for those that were in danger of losing their health benefits was that conditions they developed while with Aviva may not be covered if they had to move to a new insurer. This is because chronic problems and serious medical conditions that had developed over the years may now be listed as a pre-existing conditions, thus allowing a new insurer to deny coverage for these specific health issues.
When RHI-Bupa agreed to take over the IdealMedical and Global Health portfolios, it offered a chance for Aviva customers to continue on with their plans, but there would be differences under the new insurer. First, the RHI-Bupa Worldwide Health Options and RHI-Bupa Health Select Asia Pacific plans offered by Bupa, and their coverages, were different than that of the Aviva plans. Whether or not specific benefits were superior or inferior in the minds of each customer would entirely depend on each particular person's needs.
Secondly, it was known months in advance that premiums through RHI-Bupa would be significant higher than those of Aviva, which left each customer to decide if they wanted continual coverage at that would hit them in the wallet, or if they wanted to search for a different health insurer that could possibly be cheaper and risk losing coverage for pre-existing conditions.
When asked how the handover went for Olivier Zeller, Sales Manager of local insurance intermediary Pacific Prime Singapore, he had this to say: “Most customers who moved to RHI-Bupa from Aviva have enjoyed a much better level of service, particularly when it comes to claims.
Necessarily, customers were not thrilled with the abrupt change, and the uncertainty surrounding the termination of their policy. The possibility of a transfer, although at higher rates, was definitely a welcome optionin the minds of agents and advisors, as it ensured there was no break in coverage for members who had existing illnesses or treatments. However, the general feeling from clients was that premiums for comparable benefits were substantially higher than what they paid to Aviva. For those clients who were not obliged to take the transfer options (such as those in the middle of an ongoing pregnancy or those with existing illnesses/treatments), this was a good way to have a ‘health check’ for their insurance plan and review alternatives.
Pacific Prime has been very happy to help and explain the benefits offered by RHI-Bupa. Otherwise, we have been able to offer alternatives to customers who were left ‘stranded’ without being provided much information on the changes to come, or who may have been shocked by the premiums quoted for the continuation option with RHI-Bupa. Overall, the training and information provided by RHI-Bupa was clear, and the overall operation from our perspective was a success in terms of transferring clients over or handling their new accounts with Bupa.”
So while it was a mixed bag for those affected by Aviva closing a whole branch of its business in Singapore, there were options for customers to choose from based on their personal priorities. Undoubtedly, both those affected and those familiar with the situation hope that this type of unprecedented event will not be repeated by any insurer again.