In past years, most insurance companies distribute nearly all of the 90% to its policyholders in the form of annual bonuses. In recent years, more insurance companies have started to keep a large porportion of the surplus in the fund, without distributing them as annual bonuses. Some companies have reduced their annual bonus by 50% or more. They promised that the undistributed surplus will be paid as terminal bonus when the policy matures or is terminated.
Many insurance companies have accumulated a large amount of the undistirbuted surplus. This is called orphan money. Each policyholder has involuntarily contributed to this orphan money, but the amount contributed by each policyholder is not identified. This retention is made without the agreement of the policyholders and against their wishes. Most of them preferred the surplus to be declared as an annual bonus.
It is easy for the insurance company to use the orphan money in many ways that do not benefit the policyholders that had involuntarily contributed to it. They can be used to pay high commission to increase the sale of new policies (which do not benefit the old policyholders), or to pay high salaries and commissions.
When the policies mature or are terminated, the amount of terminal bonus given to the policyholder is likely to be much lower than they are entitled to, based on their actual contribution in past years. There is no way for the policyholder to find out if they have been fairly treated. There is lack of transparency and accountability. The insurance company can declare that they have been fair in distributing the bonsues, but there is no way for this statement to be verified. The policyholder has no say in this matter.
Is this fair? Are the policyholders being cheated? Can you trust the future management to be fair?
As many financial institutions have acted unfairly in recent years, it is better not to trust them. Do not invest in the financial products that give a lot of discretion to the financial institution and insufficent rights to protect the consumer.
Tan Kin Lian