I remember the time when a bunch of us botak (bald) national servicemen were herded into a lecture hall for a talk by insurance provider Aviva. It was day two since we enlisted, and now we were forced to listen to some insurance talk on how to better compensate ourselves in the event of anything bad happening.
As the representative from Aviva started the talk, pamphlets and brochures were given out.
To be honest, it was far from eventful, and everyone just wanted the talk to be over. We were bombarded with convoluted insurance plans of various tiers, and at the end, ‘encouraged’ sign up. Those who already had insurance plans naturally opted out, while those who do not, adopted a “what the heck” and “why not” attitude, and proceeded to sign on the dotted line.
At the end, many were left thinking, “Shouldn’t this be automatically be provided for in the first place?” and “I am serving my country, yet I still have to pay for my own safety?”
This was what insurance in the National Service used to be like – pressured into getting an insurance premium, and later see it eating away at what little allowance we were entitled to.
An Insurance Policy That People Agree Is Archaic
Facebook user Mah KY brought up a good point. For the longest time, servicemen has been under the same old insurance policy, and many generations of NSFs have been paying for inadequate insurance.
Ask any family with multiple sons who have served, and they will all tell you the same thing when asked about insurance coverage while being enlisted.
This sentiment was also echoed by former presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian. The ex-CEO of NTUC Income has called this move 50 years too late, even though it is a sensible one.
When I asked around my current and former NSFs on what they felt about the free insurance, most of them were cynical about the news:
Free Insurance For National Servicemen From 1 July
Yesterday evening, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), together with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), announced the availability of a fully paid for group insurance coverage for all active servicemen.
This new core scheme covers all active NSFs, Regulars during their period of employment, NSmen (Reservist), and also those in the Volunteer Corps. The scheme is said to come in two parts – Group Term Life (GTL) and Group Personal Accident (GPA) and servicemen will receive $150,000 GTL and $150,000 GPA in coverage respectively.
“Our national servicemen form the backbone of the SAF and perform valuable service to our nation. The provision of this GTL and GPA insurance, which is on top of our current welfare and compensation frameworks, is our way to thank them for their contributions to national defence.” – Director of National Service Affairs Colonel (NS) Simon Lim
The new scheme takes effect on 1st July for MHA personnel and 1st October for MINDEF personnel.
Higher premiums will still be available for signups should servicemen feel the need to have increased coverage. This will be available under the Voluntary Scheme.
Why Is This Good News?
In light of the much publicised tragedy of NSF Dominique Sarron Lee, the public has called into question the practices in training to ensure the safety of servicemen, calling for more transparency and back-end support to be provided.
This bit of news will definitely benefit those that undergo more strenuous, and sometimes dangerous, training where mishaps could happen.
NSF Sherman told TODAY that because many NSFs struggled with their allowance, this free insurance will definitely help to ease their financial burdens so that those who are hard-pressed for money will no longer need to apply for other insurance schemes to give them greater assurance, should anything bad befall them when they are on active duty.
I for one am happy that NSFs are able to reap the benefits of this new initiative. Admittedly, while I was an NSF, whenever my bank account showed a deduction of $20ish for my insurance, it irked the hell out of me.