*This is a story contributed by Donald Lee, who had managed to receive his claim payment before the bank even sent out the credit card statement*
A few years ago, I was having a particularly persistent bout of fever and sore throat.
It lasted for weeks.
My GP referred me to an ENT (Ear Nose Throat) specialist for further evaluation as he was running out of options.
The appointment was arranged on 13 Aug 2013.
I was diagnosed of Tonsillitis. (Editor: It is the inflammation of the tonsils, commonly caused by viral infections)
The specialist recommended me to a corrective tonsil operation so as to reduce the chances of inflammation and sore throat.
Haunted by the constant pain, I had no problem agreeing.
We managed to arrange the surgery on 22 Aug 2013.
It was successful and I was discharged from the hospital on the following day.
Upon discharge, I was presented with a total bill of $10,379.
The throat didn’t hurt so much, it was numbed by the pain in my wallet!
As the hospitalization claim was on a reimbursement basis, my concern was how to pay the bill before getting the claim.
Thank goodness for the magical plastic rectangle with the magnetic stripe.
I managed to pay the bill with my trusty credit card.
One problem solved – for now.
Looming Credit Crunch
A month’s time.
That was when my credit bill would arrive.
My concern was that the claim would not be reimbursed before my bill deadline.
Then I would either have to let it roll interest, or borrow from friends.
Both options were not particularly attractive.
Thankfully because of my experience in handling claims for my clients, I knew what I could do to speed things out.
Typically, there are a few documents required in the claim process:
- A doctor statement certifying the situation
- A medical report on the surgery done
- A final bill for the total bills paid
Therefore, during my 1-day hospital stay in Mount Elizabeth, I had already informed my doctor beforehand that I would require the abovementioned documents.
On the day I was admitted, I gave him these forms to fill in.
A Wrench in the Works
However, it was only during the first follow-up consultation (on 29 Aug 2013) that he was able to return all these supporting documents to me.
He needed to make sure there was no infection and the wound was healing well before preparing his report.
It was not what I planned.
I was getting a little concerned over this delay.
Immediate action was required.
Straight after the first follow-up consultation, I headed to the insurer’s office with no delay and left the claim documents in their safe hands.
Although I had faith in the competence of the Claims department as they had assisted my clients successfully many times before, I was not 100% sure if the claim cheque would reach me in time.
After all, my submission was delayed by about a week due to the follow-up check.
Time was ticking.
Payment in a flash
That was all it took for the company to process the payment.
The rest of the cheques came in after that.
I was relieved when the first payment reached me.
Not just because I was able to clear the bulk of the bill with that cheque but it gave me (continued) confidence that every properly submitted claim would be processed with speed and urgency that everyone deserves.
To receive the first claim payout in merely 3 weeks after my first consultation was frankly amazing.
What was even more stunning was that my credit card bill had not arrived yet!
My insurance company was faster than my bank!
Due to the swift claim payments, I was able to clear the large hospital bills in time.
Needless to say, I was happy that I did not have incurred any late charges on my credit card account or begged for loans from my friends.
I realized that my previous worries were uncalled for – insurance companies do pay the claims on time.
No Preferential treatment
Many may assume that my case was expedited due to the fact that I was an adviser working for the company.
It was not the case.
The claim department had no idea which claim was mine.
There was no flagging of cases that needed special attention or prioritization.
At least not for advisers.
The learning point is about understanding the claim process.
Communicate with your doctor.
Proper preparation is key.
And if you have an insurance agent who knows all these and performs his job dutifully, this should be attainable for everyone.
On the other hand, for those who DIY, they may face difficulties due to their unfamiliarity with the claim process.
Delays may result from this inexperience.
I am glad that my claim quantum amounted to $10,000 only.
For cases that exceed $100k, it will become a serious issue when claims get delayed.
After all, it is not an amount that one can fork out at the drop of the hat.
We are thankful for Donald’s contribution so as to bust the myth that insurance companies take their own sweet time to resolve claims and plunge their policyholders into debt.
Like all other companies in service industries, insurers like to delight their customers to retain loyalty and encourage positive word-of-mouth.
This is one example to show that great service does exist in this industry.
About the Author
Donald is a practicing Certified Financial Planner in the financial advisory industry and has been speaking actively on the topic of personal wealth management. Some of the companies that he has spoken for include Great Eastern, 8I Education, and World Vision Singapore.
Donald is a top adviser from his company; a value investor and a certified estate planner. He takes a practical and simple approach towards planning. To date, he has underwritten easily more than $500 million worth of insurance coverage for individuals and companies.
And he still feels that is not enough.
Donald Lee Jianxing
Tel: 9125 5137
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