Saturday, August 01, 2015

A messy taxi situation

Sometimes I wonder whether I should sympathize with taxi drivers. They now have reduced business due to the slow economic situation and greater competition from private cars operating under the Uber and Grab Taxi platforms.

However, when you want a taxi during the peak hours, you are not likely to find one on the road. The taxis appear to be in hiding and will only appear when you call them and pay the booking fee of $3.20 on top of peak hour surcharges.

As I could not walk due to a gout attack, I went to office by taxi this Saturday morning and paid $7 for a short trip. I did not book a taxi, so this is without the booking fee.

In the evening, I could not find any taxi. I was reluctant to book for a taxi and pay $10. In spite of pain in the foot, I walked to the bus stop and took a bus home.

If the taxi business continues to be bad, more taxi drivers will give up and may turn to Uber and Grab Taxi to operate a non-taxi service. With lower demand, the taxi companies will have to reduce the rental charges on their taxis.

My conclusion - there is no need to sympathize with taxi drivers who are now facing reduced demand. They have the choice to reduce their cost and provide a non-taxi service on the new platforms. Let the taxi companies reduce their rental.

Clearly, the taxi system in Singapore is in a mess and is messy. This shows the "free market approach" adopted by the government is short sighted, and has led to inefficiency, waste of resources and high operating cost.


Most popular books from Pearl Shop

Here are the most popular books from Pearl Shop.Three of them are offered free.

Free - book on Tangram

This PDF book on Tangram is offered free for 2 days. Act now.

Medical Bills for Elderly People

The medical bills for elderly people can be quite expensive. If you want to find some tips on how to reduce your cost, or what insurance to buy, you can find them here. This is an easy to read booklet.

If you are young, think of your parents. If you are elderly, think about yourself.

You can order this book easily for only $4. It gives you the peace of mind, and can save you a few hundred or thousand dollars at the right time.

Private cars operating as taxis

Some private cars are operating as taxis under the Uber or Grab Taxi platform.

I booked for a taxi under Grab Taxi to take me to the airport. I was surprised that a private car came to pick me.

I asked the taxi driver a few days later, "Do you have insurance to cover accidents when you private car is being used as a taxi? The normal insurance policy does not cover use "for hire".

He replied - we are required to take up commercial insurance to cover accidents for third parties.

Note - this is still not the answer to my question. I wonder - if he meets with an accident, will his private car be covered by his insurance policy? Will it cover payment of compensation to passengers who are travelling in his private car?

Share your experience on service organizations

Each of us encounter the service provided by banks, telcos, insurers, transport and government agencies. We visit their website or branch or call their hotline.

Do they provide good service or lousy service? Share your most recent experience here and win a book prize.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Insurance question

If you wish to seek my views on insurance, you can register her for a free assessment.

Get advice on children insurance

Hi Mr Tan,

Appreciate if you could help me with some insurance questions as I am a bit confused which is the best for my family.

Under Aviva, there is free coverage for the children under plan 2 (structured public hospitals with riders) until age 20. I was told by another non-Aviva agent at first, that Aviva does not cover any illness or condition between the start of the free coverage until age 20. So after age 20, must declare and then maybe must pay higher premiums.

I called Aviva, they say there is no need to talk about pre-existing conditions at all as the policy starts at point of application, ie, when free coverage starts. So even illnesses before age 20 wont have exclusions.

I am a little confused. But Aviva free coverage is only for structured hospitals, while other non-Aviva we can get private hospitals. What do you suggest for children? I thought public hospitals are also equally good.

Please register here and send your quotations to me for a free assessment

Some tips on buying term and accident insurance

Dear Mr. Tan

Q1. When to buy the term or accident insurance? If when have dependent (eg: children?) 

Q2. If I already purchased term insurance (cover death & terminal illness), do I still need to buy term accident insurance?

Q3. Noted your advice a term of 25 years of shorter. if youngest children haven't reach 21 year old /graduated, do you advice need purchase another term insurance to cover them to grow up?

Q4. Do you advice purchase accident term insurance on children?

Q5. My parent (Malaysian) who doesn't have medical coverage (eg: Medishield or Private insurance coverage) in Singapore and Malaysia, what you will advice (any insurance term or opinion) if they falling sickness in future?


Q1. You buy insurance when you have a need to provide a lump sum to your family in the event of your premature death. The family could be your parents who depend on your income, or your spouse and young children. You can also buy accident insurance to provide a payment in the event of permanent or temporary disability.

Q2.  If you have adequate term insurance, you usually do not need to buy accident insurance. However, as the premium is quite low, you can buy accident insurance to provide a benefit in the event of permanent of temporary disability caused by accident (which are not covered by a term insurance policy).

Q3.  You should be covered for term insurance until your youngest child reach age 21 or until you have accumulated sufficient savings on your own.  A term of 25 years is usually sufficient, but it is all right to be insured a few years longer. You can compare the difference in premium and make your decision.  

Q4. You can buy a small amount of accident insurance for your child to cover payment of medical fees in the event of insurance. The premium is very low, so you can treat the expenses like any other small expenses.

Q5. If your parents are living in Singapore, you can insure them under Medishield or a private insurance policy. Get the advice of an insurance adviser.

Share you experience on insurance claims

Do you have positive or negative experience with the claim settlement of insurance companies, e.g. motor insurance, travel insurance, health insurance?

Read the views of other customer here, and sign in to share your own experience.

If more customers are willing to speak up, they will help to encourage the insurance companies to settle their claims promptly and fairly.

Give feedback on service organizations in Singapore

Do you want to share your experience on dealing with 5 service organizations in Singapore, such as banks, airlines, telcos, etc.

When you submit 5 feedback, you will win a book  prize.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Breakdown of MRT lines in July 2015

Soong Lin Hao

I found the article disturbing and thought that I have the duties as a Singaporean and an engineer to point out some contradictions.

The article seems to suggest that the root cause is leakage of high chloride content water. And then it went on to say that smrt will thoroughly check for old and worn out insulation and have them replaced. Well, isn't this contradicting? Is the root cause due to high chloride content water or due to old and worn out insulation?

To me, the article is not clear. Assuming if the root cause is due to old and worn out insulation, the next question one should ask is why there is no regular preventive maintenance program to test their resistance levels and replace them in advance? The science of insulation is not rocket science. In many facilities such as refineries, chemical and power plants, it is common to check the resistance level of the insulation regularly. Why is this an exception in smrt?

Another point to raise is such failures have not happened in the last 30 over years until recently? Was it not possible for the insulation to be exposed to high chloride content water in the past until recently? Personally, I can't buy into the article argument.

Lastly, I am concerned that the protective relay setpoint is being increased to minimize likelihood of future power trips. The function of the protective relay is to cut off the electricity in the event of short circuits and short circuits can lead to arcing and electrical fires. It is a practice for operators to use a set point to minimize nuisance electrical faults from lightnings and animals as these kind of faults do not generate currents large enough to pose safety issues.

But to my knowledge, electrical faults due to faulty insulation are definitely real safety issues which the protective relays are designed to prevent. I am sure there is a panel of experts looking at this issue and I am probably not qualified to challenge them professionally. However, I believe I have valid and very important points and it is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that the investigation is fair and effective.

There was also a cable fire at Newton in Feb 2015. If the root cause had indeed been identified, we should not see the issues recurring again and again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Look for a consultant

Claim Rejection
Do you have an insurance claim that has been rejected unfairly? I can take a look and see if you have a case. The initial assessment is free.

Quantity survey and contract administration
Are you involved in construction but find it too expensive to engage an experienced quantity surveyor or contract administrator? You can engage this service on a part time basis and get access to a professional service at a modest cost.

Personal growth
Do you have the mental strength? Are you able to face challenges and crisis with confidence? Talk to Dr Tommy Wong. He might be able to help you in your personal growth.

Claim Experience

Do you have an insurance claim that was settled promptly and fairly? Or a claim that gave you a lot of hassle or was rejected unfairly? You can share your experience here and also read the experience of other claimants.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Share your claim experience or read what other people say

Do you like to know what other people say about their claim experience with the insurance company that you have bought a policy from?
You can register and sign into this website, to find out about their views. You can also submit your own claim experience to share with other people.

Financial Projection, deducting effect of inflation

Here is a clearer explanation of how you can carry out a financial projection that excludes the effect of inflation. You will know if you have sufficient savings at your expected retirement age.

Develop the skill of problem solving

Many people are afraid about facing challenges and solving problems.
But problem solving can be trained.
It is a matter of knowing what to look out for, and knowing the steps to take.
These two books can give the practice. With time, you can be confident of solving problems, as it is a matter of taking the right steps.

Bus Lanes in Singapore

A taxi driver told me about the different types of bus lines:
a) Those colored red and yellow
b) Those with solid and dotted lines.
I find them to be quite confusing. So, I checked Google and found out the following:

Inflated injury claim

A doctor told me that the injury claims under motor insurance are grossly inflated. His son had an accident recently. There were minor damages to the vehicles. He received a claim from the third party asking for $50,000 (or thereabouts) in injury claims for medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss wages.

The claim is grossly inflated and unjustified. But this case will be argued in court leading to a lot of wasted time and legal fees.

As a doctor, he receives requests from lawyers to submit reports for these claims. It takes a lot of his time and he has to bill the lawyer for the report. It seems to be a waste of time. Many of these cases involve whiplash injury, which is quite subjective.  Is there  a better way for such claims to be handled?

The problem of inflated injury claims has been around for decades. In recent years, it must have got much worse. This is clearly a matter that requires the government to step in and find a way to address the issue through legislation or regulation.

The payment of these injury claims add to the cost of motor insurance. Consumers should ask the government to address this problem, and bring down the premiums charged.

In some countries, e.g. Sweden, they write a law to spell out how injury claims should be compensated. This is done by an independent assessor working under the law. In most cases, the decision of the assessor is taken as fair. It reduced legal cost significantly.

We should adopt such a system and support it with a database of past claims to guide the assessor. If the assessment is disputed, it can go through a review where another 1 or 2 assessors are appointed to make their assessment. 

To ensure that the assessment is done impartially, the identify of the assessor and the claimant should be kept hidden until the assessment has been completed. The assessment should be done based on the facts of the case, and not the identity of the party involved. 

As this has been a serious matter for many years, it is useful for the authority to take the lead to implement such a system or to find a practical solution.

Waiver of handling fee in Pearl Shop

You can save on the handling fee of $3 when you buy these books and items during the promotion period.
Some of the books are given free. This includes my recent slides on financial planning. Search for "financial planning".

Customer Feedback

Here are the recent customer feedback on service organizations in Singapore. It is like writing a letter to the newspaper.

Term insurance for 25 years

Dear Mr. Tan
In your talk on financial planning, you recommended consumer to buy term insurance for a term of 25 years or shorter. Why a term of 25 years or shorter? Should we cover ourselves till retirement age of 65 for term insurance? Thanks.

After 25 years, your children have grown up and you have sufficient savings at that time. But if you wish to be insured until age 65, it is okay as the difference in premium is quite small.

Read this book.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Scoreboard (

You can view this scoreboard at

It may change from time to time, based on the feedback that has been submitted to this website.

Blog Archive