Saturday, September 10, 2016

Insurance company obtained patient's records without consent

The policyholder submitted a claim. She was shocked to learn that the insurance company asked for her past medical history from medical providers without getting her consent.

Rejection of claim under the "care and custody" provision

A consumer sought my help on a travel insurance claim.

She bought a travel insurance policy to cover the period that she was overseas. She rented an apartment. She was shocked to find that the apartment was burgled and the wallet, which was kept in the bag, had been thrown on the floor, with the money taken away.

She made a policy report and filed an insurance claim. She was shocked to receive a rejection of the claim as the money was not in her "care and custody". The travel insurance policy cover theft of money that was in her care and custody.

The claim officer interpreted this provision to require that the wallet kept in the bag was not in her "care and custody". I wonder if the officer expect the policyholder to keep the wallet with her even whe she was sleeping?

My interpretation is that the travel insurance policy should cover money belonging to the insured and also money from someone else that is given to the insured for "care and custody". It will not cover money belonging to other people that were not given to the insured for "care and custody".

I am surprised that the claims officer of the insurance company could have interpretation the "care and custody" provision in the manner to reject the claim.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Interview with The New Paper on Elected President

Train to be an actuary

I develop this website to help students train to be an actuary.

This link shows how to upload data on motor insurance claims and to run the procedure to compute the rating factors for the various rating codes.

It displays the rating factors and the pricing for motor insurance based on these factors. This is shown in the quote.

If any student needs help on understanding this topic, send an email to

Oppo R9

I received the Oppo R9 mobile phone today. I bought it as it allowed me to install 2 SIM cards (for my Singapore and Indonesian cards).

It was quite easy to install the SIM cards and to set up the phone to use. The features were well designed. I did not have any trouble in getting use to this new phone.

My earlier phones were Samsung and HTC. I had a lot of trouble with these phones. The Oppo was easy. Maybe, I have become more experienced with using mobile phones. Maybe their user interface is better.

My report on Oppo - Excellent!

Tips to get a job in a weak market

My friend told me.

Friend - My daughter graduated from Nanyang Technological University. She took 6 months to find a job. In past years, graduates with her degree got a job before graduating. The employment prospects this year seem to be quite bleak. However, I don't know if she was being choosy".

I did not ask me for more details about the type of degree and the job that she was looking for.

My advice to graduates -

a) Get a job that is available, even though it is below your expected level and salary or the job may be not what you like.

b) If you enter at a lower level, and you perform well, you are likely to be promoted when the opportunity comes. Your employer is likely to give the job to a person that they know, rather than someone from outside.

c) If you don't get the promotion, you are getting working experience that will give you a better chance to get another job with another employer. They look for people with working experience in the same line.

d) If you do not like the job, you may have the chance to change the way that work is done. It is called improvement. I call it "initiative".

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Tale of two bus drivers

After the networking session, I walked to the bus stop in Cecil Street at 9.30 pm. Bus 131 went passed me. I ran towards the bus stop. On arriving, the bus left. Maybe the driver did not see me. Maybe he could not wait another five seconds. Further down the road, the bus stopped at the traffic light for a minute or two. I walked passed it.

I went to take the MRT at Raffles Place. On arriving at Yio Chu Kang station, I had to transfer to bus 70. The bus was at the bus stop about the leave. I ran towards the bus. The driver waited the 5 seconds for me. I thanked him.

My Actuarial Journey - Tan Kin Lian

My name is Tan Kin Lian. In 1966, I left school at the age of 18 to work as a clerk in a life insurance company. I enrolled as a student in the Institute of Actuaries and studied to pass the actuarial subjects one a time. This was done while doing a full time job in several companies over a period of ten years. I qualified as a Fellow of the Institute in 1975.

I took the actuarial profession because I liked mathematics, logic and problem solving. I was fascinated with statistics and how statistical data can be analyzed and studied to tell us about what is happening in the real world. I also enjoyed the subject of probability. It helped me to understand the chance of certain events happening. This was useful in gambling and in taking risks.

In the old days, we did the statistical calculation using printed tables of the values of the functions. We did not have Excel. When I started work, we use mechanical calculators. The first electronic calculator, which was developed by a Japanese company, cost one year of my salary!

I learned about the importance of getting data, analyzing data, understanding the results and applying them in the real world. That skill comes from the actuarial training.

To be a good actuary, you must love data and how they can be used to make important decisions in everyday life. These are decisions at the personal level, corporate level and at government level.

Just imagine how much better the country can be for the people, if the government makes the right decisions on managing the economic and social activities in the country. They can make the right decisions that work for the majority of the people, if they know how the decisions will impact the different groups of people.

Apart from being a trained actuary, I was skilled in information technology and computer systems. At the corporate level, a good computer system helps the corporate to operate more efficiently, at lower cost and provide better service to its customers.

The data from the business can be analyzed to make decisions to improve the marketing, operations, product development and management of the business.

I encourage actuaries to have an interest in this area.

Many actuaries are familiar with the use of Excel. This is an important skill. But it has its limitations when it comes to handling large volumes of data. I overcome it by learning to use SQL database and to structure and analyze the data.

For example, I can analyze a few million transactions in a database of motor insurance policies and claims to know the average claim rate by type, age and use of vehicle and by gender, age, occupation and experience of the driver. This can be used for pricing the motor insurance policy correctly to achieve profits in a competitive market.

I am able to analyze the data further to know if the workshop is overcharging on any of the repairs and is aggravating the damages to inflate the cost. This is not easy. You need analytical and problem solving skill. You also need to understand the nature of the motor insurance business.

As the insurance company has to handle a few hundred repairs every day, it is important that the computer system is able to highlight the repairs that need to be investigated further. Some insurance companies pay attention to the large repairs, but the overcharging applies to the medium size repairs as well.

Now I wish to come to my key point.

The skill of an actuary is to identify a problem, to understand it and to find practical solutions to handle the problem effectively.

You may not deal with the practical issues when you study the actuarial subject. But when you work in an insurance company, you will soon realize that the pricing, marketing and claim management are vital to the success of the company.

Are you able to find the solutions to help the top management to run the business? Remember, you will want to be the top management one day!

If you wish to interact more with me, send an email to

Constitutional commission recommend a return to the appointed President

The Constitutional Commission has recommended, as an option, a return to the appointed President to carry out ceremonial function. The custoial function is to be handled by a body of experts that acts as a second chamber in our governance.…/constitution…/3105238.html…

This is an excellent recommendation. I agree with it.

I disagree with the argument put forward by PM Lee against this recommendation. I hope that he will change his mind.

We have already wasted too much resources and energy in trying to develop the "elected president" system. It was a badly conceived idea in the first place. We should recognize that it will never work and go back to the previous system, with the modification suggested by the commission.

Well done to the Constitutional Commission!

First level screening of job applicants

The Job Portal created by TKL Associates differentiates itself from other portals by doing first level screening.

Each job seeker indicates the type of job (e.g. Software Developer) and the expected salary (e.g. 2500). The seeker receives an email for each job posting that matches the criteria.

The seeker clicks a link in the email to see the key details of the job, i,e, name of company, introduction to company, workplace, job title, job description, compensation, required qualification, etc.

This is what the information looks like:

The employer can view the applicants as follows:

If the employer finds any candidate to the suitable, the employer clicks on the candidate and ask to shortlist the candidate. An email is sent to notify teh candidate.

The employer can follow up by email or telephone with the shortlisted candidates. This is handled outside of the portal.

Compared to the process in the other job portals in the market, this "first level screening" allows the job seeker and the employer to contact each other quickly. It will give a better user experience to both parties.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Difficult to use SIA miles for upgrade

I wanted to book an economy ticket to London and use my miles to upgrade to business class.

I had to buy an Economy Flexi ticket for $2,200 to be eligible for the upgrade. The upgrade was confusing. It depended on availability which differs from flight to flight. In some flights, the upgrade was for premium economy and not business class. The points required for the upgrade was also confusing.

To avoid the hassle, I bought a special ticket for $1,200 (return) and forgot about the upgrade. I will use the points for other flights.

I learned, after a confusing experience, that the best way to use my 60,000 miles is to convert it to use it to reduce the price of my ticket. The conversion rate is roughly $600 for 60,000 miles.

Inconsiderate call center

I called the Starhub call center. It asked me to press many buttons and gave me announcements of promotions that do not interest me. It also gave me a message that I have heard more than 1,000 times, about the call being monitored for training purpose.

How inconsiderate of the call center. Don't they have any consideration for their long suffering customers? I was then asked to enter my mobile phone number. I did.

A voice answered. May I have your NRIC number?
TKL - I just pressed my mobile number. Surely, you can retrieve my record from it?
Voice - sorry, I don't have access to that number.
TKL - Why did your system asked me to key in that number?
Voice - Sorry.
TKL - Please pass my feedback to your management. Do be considerate to your customers. Do not make them waste so much time and do a lot of irrelevant steps.
Voice - OK.

A bold investor

Ms Tan (not her real name) was quite bold. She knew that Genneva Gold operates a questionnaire business model and may fold up. But she was greedy for the 24% return. She thought that she could run with her investment before the company closed down. How much did she invest? (Clue - a lot of money). Did she run away on time?

I will tell you the answer when you attend this talk.

Live launch of Job Portal on 1 October 2016

The Job Portal is working well. I will launch it on 1 October 2016 and accept real applications at that time. I will clear off the simulated data.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Practice to get the right judgment

The Business Simulation Game allows you to practice setting the price, capacity and advertising to get the highest profit.

I had to practice it several times, over several games, to get the right combination. I get the best results through trial and error. This is experience. Nobody can give you the right answer. You have to learn through experience.

Practice now by playing this game

How to identify investment scams

Over the past decades, tens of thousands of people have lost their savings on various kinds of ponzi schemes, starting from Gemini Chit Funds in the early 1970s. This kind of scams have re-surfaced in new forms in later years, such as the high returns paid or promoted on land banks, wines, gold bars, plantations and similar schemes.

Even some life insurance and structured products, sold by regulated financial institutions, have high risks, as the investors often misunderstood the nature of these products and have to suffer large losses in their savings. In many cases, the products are complicated and the person who sold the products did not explain the negative features of these products.

The talk is scheduled for Sat 10 Setpember.

Getting from bad to worse

Earlier this year, I predicted that the government will change the constitution to allow a committee to specify that the candidate for President should come from a certain ethnic group.

I looks like my prediction will materialize. Furthermore, I expect that the ethnic group selected for the next President should be a Malay.

Here is the news of the interview with PM Lee[Yah_Newsletter]-20160905-[Changes+to+elected+presidency+needed+as+race+still+matters+in+politics%3A+PM+Lee]

My friend said that this move is designed to prevent Dr. Tan Cheng Bok from contesting in the next presidential election. His conclusion is obvious and is shared by many people.  The PAP consider Dr. Tan to be unacceptable.

I consider this to be a sad state of affairs for Singapore. Dr, Tan had served the country loyally as a PAP MP for more than 20 years. He is now regarded by many people as truly independent of the PAP and can serve the country well as the elected president. Many people consider him to be the best candidate for this office. Why go to so much trouble to prevent him from contesting?

My own preference is to abolish the  elected president and to go back to a ceremonial president. The concept of an elected president with executive powers is badly thought out and is basically unworkable. The problem was highlighted when President Ong Teng Cheong wanted to carry out his duty in a diligent and independent manner.

By making a further change to the constitution, we are creating a more difficult and confusing situation for the future. In short, it does not make sense. 

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Learning a useful skill from Youtube

Leyeon was invited to a birthday party to make cartoon characters using balloons.
TKL - Were you good at art in school
Leyeon - Not really
TKL - Where did you learn the skill of making these characters with ballons?
Leyeon - I learn from Youtube
TKL - How long did it take you
Leyeon - One year, while I was in NS. (Looks like he made good use of his idle time in NS!)
TKL - Do you plan to make a living with this skill
Leyeon - I hope so.
TKL - How much do you charge?
Leyeon - $150 per hour.
TKL - How often do you have work?
Leyeon - Mostly on Fri, Sat and Sun. I am mostly free on weekdays.
Leyeon can be contacted at: 91546135

Job Portal - Guide for Job Seeker

This video shows how you can use the Job Portal as a job seeker. Try it. It is now in testing mode. You can create a fictitious entry to test the user experience.

Bad experience with SIA mileage awards

Although I had flown on Singapore Airlines for a few decades, I did not keep track of the mileage points. I found the system to be too complicated. In most years, I allowed to mileage to expire.

Recently, I earned 60,000 mileage points from placing a fixed deposit with a bank. I spent a few hours to learn how to use the points. It was complicated.

I wish to share my experience.

1. I spent a lot of time finding out how many miles are required to buy an "award ticket". I must have clicked on a few dozen links just to get this information.

2. Someone showed me a PDF that contain the required miles to fly from one zone to another and also to carry out an upgrade from one fare to another. It gave the required information but was quite complicated. SIA did not make this available from their website.

3. I logged in to buy the Economy Flexi ticket that allowd me to upgrade to Business Class. SIA offered this ticket only for the outbound sector but did not make it available for the return sector. The have a regulation that the most restrictive condition apply when the itinerary contain different fares. I find this to be very complicated. I spent 1 hour to understand this convoluted arrangement.

Later, I learned that the best way to use my miles was to use it to pay for my ticket. They offer a conversion value of $0.01 for each mile.

I guessed that SIA found the "award tickets" and "upgrade tickets" cause them to lose revenue on some sectors. Instead of being frank about it, they used a convoluted system to deny the benefit to their Krisflyer member. This caused the member to waste a lot of time.

A few weeks ago, I called their hotline to ask the staff to give me the information. The hotline staff did not know. He checked and called me back later, but gave me the wrong information. If the SIA system could confuse their staff, what about their customers?

It is better for SIA to streamline and simplify their system, rather than cause this kind of confustion to their customers and their front line staff. This experience left me the impression that SIA is inefficient and wasteful in supporting bad business practices and processes.

Job Portal - guide for employer

This guide shows how the employer can post a job and get in touch with job seekers immediately.

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