Saturday, November 03, 2007

So how to tackle the insurance agents?

I thought maybe I should provide some (even though still imperfect) answers to my questions in the last post.

On insurance, if the agent cannot help you then who can? For my own journey, I talked to other agents, then I talked to friends, and find out more from the net and newspaper and talked to experienced folks to try to get to the truth.

At first I thought surely there would be some good agents out there. After all, some agents do earn big bucks by selling insurance right? Sooo, I called up pple, asked for appointments, but soon realized that they were all the same. They are TRAINED to sell you the useless stuff, and TRAINED to "taiji away" the difficult questions.

Whenever I asked about term insurance, they would say,

"Oh, but they only cover you until 60 you know?"
"But after 60, my kids are grown up, I don't need too much insurance." I say.
Then they change topic, "But if you buy this life plan, it's like a savings plan, you still get your money back, plus 3-4% per year."
"But meanwhile I pay $2,000 per yr for the next 20 yrs to earn 3-4%? And get covered for $50,000?"
"$50,000 coverage will grow to $50,512 over time! Ok what about this investment link product, it is very good blah blah blah"
What the heck...

I even got one agent who claimed to have advised millionaires on how to buy insurance and still give me stupid recommendations. So in the end, I gave up. I started talking to friends and read up. And here are some conclusions that I gathered.

Use less than 10% of your annual salary on insurance, I recommend 5%. But agents will quote you 20%, saying its MAS regulation. I find it hard to believe. I don't spend 20% of my annual salary on ANYTHING, not even mortgage! 20% on insurance? WTF!

But for 5% you have to try to maximize coverage, it has to be at least 5 times your annual salary to be meaningful. So this is tough job for 99.999% of all insurance agents. Try to find one who can do that, someone young, willing to work hard and help you. My experience: no agent can, so you gotta do it yourself. And that is to buy SAFRA insurance, one of the cheapest around.

Don't get swayed by the agents. They try to bend your rules, like 5% is not enough! Or you cannot see it that way, bcos this 20% will go to your savings blah blah. They should follow your rules, not the other way.

Don't buy investment linked products, usually you overpay for commission and stuff. If you want to do investment, do it separately.

Agents like to blackmail emotionally. Like if you die, your family how? Your kids so young how? And they will say, "I know one friend, cancer, no insurance, pay $200,000 etc". Stop them. I KNOW it's a disaster to die without insurance. But tell me the facts. The premium, the coverage etc. And Get me the cheap value-for-money policy, damn it!

So the ideal scenario, if your annual household income is say $60,000, spend $3,000 on insurance, buy minimal life (you need life policy to get term), say $20,000 and get lots of term, say $250,000. So you spend $3,000 to get insured for $270,000. That's probably an ok deal.

Not sure if most rational people are doing this. Pls comment ok!

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