My friend Anne Wong Holloway's domestic helper suffered a stroke early last month and, after treatment here, went home on March 24.
As the helper was insured, Anne promptly made a claim from AXA Insurance for medical costs. But she is finding hurdles in the way.
She says AXA Insurance, "which seems to write the majority of domestic helper policies in Singapore via Anda Insurance (a broker), is baulking."
"It's 'nickle and diming' us and as a result has not even bothered to settle the major portion of the claim which is for the medical bills I have paid."
As expected, Anne has written to the insurance company to explain why it is setting "impossible conditions" for claims to be made.
Here's her letter:
"Dear Ms Foo,I have spoken to Ms Lee Kah Keow, nurse clinician at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. She has confirmed my reservation and fear that no doctor will be willing to certify that a stroke patient will not be able to work ever again, especially one who was discharged within a month of suffering the stroke.
"Therefore I would be a complete fool to apply to the Medical Records Office of TTSH (http://www.ttsh.com.sg/medical-reports/) and pay approximately $200 for one of their doctors to say that he is unable to certify beyond one year that my previous helper will not be able to work as a FDW.
"I have since read the 'fine print' and basically for some critical illnesses the AXA policy sets impossible conditions.
"In the case of a stroke, AXA requires 'evidence of permanent neurological damage confirmed by neurologist at least 6 weeks after the event.....
"For the amount that AXA would reimburse in re-hiring expenses (a few hundred dollars at most), it would be fiscal imprudence of the highest order to keep anyone in an institution where she would have rehabilitation therapy for 6 weeks as the stay and rehabilitation would amount to several thousand (a ballpark figure of SIN$8,600 per month at St Luke's Hospital).
"In this case, AXA also stipulates that the doctor must be a Singapore-registered physician or surgeon.
"If my FDW had had a heart attack (instead of a stroke), I would have to provide evidence of "left ventricular ejection fraction of less than 50% measured 3 months or more after the event.'
"Again this would have to be obtained from a Singapore-registered physician, from a Singapore hospital. The cost of a stay in the hospital and treatment would probably exceed the value of the entire policy!
"And all this for a few hundred dollars? It is abundantly clear to me that it is only when such catastrophic events arise that one discovers that some insurance policies are written solely for the benefit of the insurance companies and are not fair or just.''
Having had bad experiences with insurance companies myself, I would say: "Good luck, Anne! Get set for a long haul."