Thursday, November 26, 2009

Defending your country? Then pay for your own insurance

Defending your country? Then pay for your own insurance

November 27, 2009 by admin
Filed under Opinion

By Khalil Adis

While the premium for Group Personal Accident Insurance Scheme is affordable, the government should cover the cost since national servicemen are defending the country

I have been serving my national service faithfully for a full two-and-a-half-years and will soon complete my reservist this year, at the end of my ten-year cycle.

At this time of writing, I have just finished doing my duty for the 20th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum held in Singapore.

Throughout my service with the Singapore Police Force, I have kept our streets safe, assisted my commander and senior officers in writing reports, managed the staff suggestion scheme, came up with newsletter for fellow national servicemen and guarded key installations across the island.

I have also endeavoured to pass my physical fitness test (IPPT) with a Silver award almost every year.

However, before I take a final bow from my national service duty, there is one burning question my troop mates and myself have been left wondering – why do we need to pay for our own insurance when we are in fact taking time from our work and family to risk our lives for our country?

Terms of insurance coverage

The Police National Service (PNS) Department last year sent us a letter saying that with effect from 1 April 2008, Home Team NSmen will be automatically covered under the Group Personal Accident Insurance Scheme.

This insurance scheme only covers reservist personnel like myself and not full-time national servicemen

So, unless we choose to opt out, the premiums are deducted from our make-up pay or service allowance.

Most of us have left it as it is as we are just too unaware of its implications or too busy with our duties to even question it.

The insurance is underwritten by American Home Assurance Company Singapore (AIG) and managed by Zuellig Insurance Singapore.

Police national servicemen are covered during their In-Camp Training (ICT) and pre-ICT assessment, mobilisation, IPPT and remedial test, course and other NS activities where the Order to Report for Service has been served.

The sum is not a lot, amounting to $4.85 (inclusive of GST).

The insurance provides coverage of up to 30 days of call-up per work year.

It covers each individual a sum assured of $100, 000 in the event of death and a scale of benefits of up to $150, 000 for permanent disablement arising from an accident.

In addition, there are other benefits, such as claims for accidental partial disability and child education lump sum benefit.

Insurance experts agree that the insurance coverage national servicemen are getting is a good deal.

“If you compare this with a normal personal accident plan, for the same risk level, it costs $360 with $50, 000 sum assured in the event of accidental death and total and permanent disablement. As the insurance for national servicemen covers higher risks, it is value-for-money,” says Hakim Halim, a financial advisor with Promiseland Independent Pte Ltd.

Cost is not the issue

However, the cost and coverage of the insurance is not the issue.

The issue is, despite our service to our country where we constantly have to put our life at risk, the government still makes us pay for our own insurance coverage.

Even the companies that we work for do pay for our insurance in the event any accident happens to us during our course of employment.

So, on behalf of my troop mates, I wrote an email to the Police National Service (PNS) Department early this year, asking them to explain why we have to foot the bill.

It is almost the end of the year and the PNS Department has yet to reply to our query.

Our political leaders have always questioned if Singaporeans would defend the country in times of war.

However, the government’s penny-pinching attitude will only sow the seeds of apathy and discord among existing national service men who have continued putting their lives at risk.

Should future generations feel less than patriotic, the government have only themselves to be blamed for their “money-as a-means-to-an-end” approach.

If the government can allocate $10 million of taxpayers’ money to make permanent residents feel more welcomed and foot the bill to host APEC, surely paying the insurance cost for national servicemen is not too much to ask for, right?

After all, we have paid our dues by helping to keep the country safe and secure.

Despite our grievances, we are grateful for the excellent welfare provided for us at APEC and the senior officers who took time to sit down to listen to the sentiments among national servicemen.

In the meantime, we are waiting with bated breath for the PNS Department’s official reply.

About the Author:

Khalil Adis graduated from Monash University with a Bachelors of Arts (Communications) and was a former editor for Property Report magazine covering Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

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