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Better cover for mums and babes

  Monday, 30 l 08 l 2010 Source: The Straits Times   
By: Gayle Quah

The insurance coverage for diseases and illnesses has been expanded with round-the-clock protection for expectantmothers and their children

baby and pregnant mums insuranceINSURANCE companies are offering more comprehensive policies that widen their coverage for pregnant women,babies and young children.

The insurers say some of the policies are created to give parents peace of mind when there are outbreaks of pandemic diseases, while the coverage has expanded to cater to changing demographics.

First introduced in 2006, the NTUC Income Personal Accident Infectious Diseases (PAID) was launched in response to the outbreak of diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), hand, food and mouth disease (HFMD) and the avian flu.

Mr Pui Phusangmook, senior vice-president and general manager, general insurance division, NTUC Income, says:“The Income plan, the first to cover such infectious diseases, helped address the concerns of Singaporeans, especially in its protection of children who are most susceptible to these illnesses.

“Over the years, Income has expanded PAID’s coverage to include other infectious diseases, including malaria, measles and tuberculosis. Today, there are 17 infectious diseases covered under this plan.”

Policyholders benefit from 24-hour protection worldwide and it includes death, permanent disabilities, daily hospitalisation incomeas a result of personal accident and infectious diseases, as well as terrorism and motorcycling mishaps. Other benefits include treatment by Chinese physicians and chiropractors.

“Since its launch, PAID has been very well received. To date, we have more than 4,000 policies andwe expect the number to rise in the coming years,” says Mr Phusangmook.

DBS Bank has a similar policy called Junior Care that covers children from ages one to 16. It gives round-the-clock,worldwide protection and offers special daily hospitalisation benefits for H1N1, HFMD, food poisoning and dengue fever.

But real estate agent Eunice Ng, a mother of two young daughters, says she would not go with these policies as she feels that diseases like HFMD are not life-threatening.

“It would make more sense to go with a general health insurance policy that covers other illnesses and hospitalisation than just infectious diseases,”she says.

“For HFMD, a simple dose of antibiotics and lots of rest works. However, if the disease evolves and a new strain is more harmful, I might change my mind.”

Prudential Singapore introduced a “first-of-its-kind” policy in June that protects the expectant mother and her unborn baby, from pregnancy till after childbirth.

Mr Tomas Urbanec, chief marketing officer of Prudential Singapore, says: “Innovation is and has always been a hallmark of Prudential Singapore and we are proud to score yet another first in the market by introducing
PRUfirst gift – a plan that widens the safety net for expectant women and extends it totheir children as well.”

He notes that the risks of labour complications associated with the trend of delaying childbirth could lead to potential financial distress for parents with children who are excluded from insurance coverage because of birth defects.

PRUfirst gift bundles two plans in one, offering expectant mothers coverage for pregnancy complications, death, total and permanent disability and terminal illness immediately upon policy inception with no waiting period.

The yet-to-be-born baby is also covered against death, and upon childbirth, the infant is automatically covered for death, total and permanent disability, terminal illness, critical illness and congenital conditions as well as hospital care benefits.

Mrs KatherineOng-Froggatt, a new mother of a four-month-old, says:“They should have introduced it ages ago. Before this, therewere no policies that cover pregnancy specifically. I would definitely consider taking this up with my second pregnancy.”

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