A policyholder bought a 21 year anticipated endowment policy. At that time, the policy showed a projected return of 5.5% per annum. The company used 7% to project the accumulation of the triennial payments and also included reversionary and maturity bonus that were not explained in a transparent manner. However, the company did explain that the projected amounts were not guaranteed.
On maturity, the policyholder was given a payout that is about 35% lower than the initial projection. The final yield was reduced to 1.6% per annum. The insurance company explained that the low payout was due to the difficult investment climate. In my view, this is only partly true. Another major contributor was the highly optimistic assumptions used in the initial projection, to entice the consumer to buy the insurance policy.
I hope that the authority will ask the insurance company to be accountable for its initial projection. While it is acceptable for the final payout to be lower to reflect the actual investment climate, the difference should not be as much as 35%. I believe that this type of unfair treatment applies to large numbers of policyholders.
I have advised consumers not to trust the optimistic projections that are used to sell life insurance policies, unless there is a higher standard of business integrity and protection of consumer rights.
Tan Kin Lian
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