14 Aug 2013
SpecialCare (Autism), a product resulting from a collaboration between NTUC Income and Autism Resource Centre (Singapore), is the only policy in the market designed for children and young people with autism
Singapore, 14 August 2013 – NTUC Income, Singapore’s leading insurer, is making a foray in special needs by launching an insurance plan specially designed for children and young people with autism. Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that occurs early in child development. In so doing, NTUC Income becomes the first insurer in Singapore to voluntarily offer insurance coverage for this segment of the community that is usually denied coverage.
Named SpecialCare (Autism), the plan provides coverage for medical expenses due to accidents and infectious diseases. These include outpatient and hospitalisation expenses, daily hospital income, personal liability and death and disability due to accidents. There are unique benefits that most insurance plans do not cover - such as reimbursement for mobility aids, psychiatric treatment and physiotherapy, home modifications and caregiver training following an accident. Protection also covers medical expenses due to infectious diseases including dengue fever, bird flu and hand, foot and mouth disease.
Those between 15 days old and 30 years old can apply, and the policy renewal is up to age 75. There are two types of plans, each with a high lifetime limit of either $100,000 or $150,000.
In designing SpecialCare (Autism), NTUC Income consulted with Autism Resource Centre Singapore [ARC(S)] and its members to better understand the profile and needs of children and young people with autism, as well as the potential impact of the policy. Based on the global prevalence rate and Singapore’s 2011 population figures, ARC(S) estimates that there are about 31,000 individuals with autism in Singapore.
Ms Denise Phua, President, Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) said, “Autism varies a great deal in severity. The core deficit is in social awareness and communications. The most severe cases bear higher risks while the milder ones can be very able. NTUC Income has taken an important, forward-thinking step in studying the condition and developing an innovative product that begins to provide insurance coverage for children and young adults with autism.”
Ms Phua added, “This significant step will not only help this group gain access to the basic insurance that they deserve; it also paves the way for the industry to look into similar needs for persons with other special needs. I commend NTUC Income for being a proactive and progressive social enterprise.”
SpecialCare (Autism) is the first of its kind offered by an insurance company. It signals NTUC Income’s endeavour to reach out to and explore solutions for the special needs community.
Mr Tan Suee Chieh, Chief Executive, NTUC Income said, “NTUC Income developed this coverage as part of our commitment to make essential insurance accessible and affordable. As society progresses, we need to work towards ensuring that no one is left behind. Through SpecialCare, we hope to provide some financial relief to the families of children and young adults with autism in the event of an accident. It is a small step we are taking in the special needs space, but one that could mean a big difference to an affected family.”
Mr Tan added, “Children and young adults with autism form a segment of the uninsured. While the risks associated with autism are still being studied and understood, we saw a need to explore insurance for the community and moved to find a way to address it. ARC(S) provided us with the data and insights we needed to design a suitable product. Over time, we want to accumulate experience from the policy and be in a better position to study the viability of special needs products. This supports our belief that all young people deserve the opportunity to realise their full potential.”
SpecialCare (Autism) is the latest in the range of differentiated products introduced by NTUC Income in fulfilling its social purpose. Some examples:
- In March 2012, NTUC Income launched Value Pack, a low-cost term life and health insurance plan targetted at the uninsured and underinsured.
- This was followed by SilverCare, an affordable, special living assistance plan for the elderly in May 2012.
- Back in 2009, NTUC Income also launched the Group Living Policy, a joint initiative with the National Kidney Foundation, to insure kidney donors.
- At the height of the SARS pandemic in 2003, NTUC Income launched SARS insurance plans for the public as well as for healthcare workers, who enjoyed similar coverage for the same premiums despite their higher risk exposure.
SpecialCare (Autism) is immediately available to families who have children with autism. Underwriting has been simplified and limited to three questions.
Early consultation with ARC(S) parents has yielded valuable feedback and encouraging responses.
Mr Jamil Amin is the father of Mr Mohamed Amin, a 25 year-old café assistant who has autism. Mr Jamil said, “Parents like me have been frustrated by the blanket denial of insurance coverage for our children in the past. SpecialCare (Autism) is a great start. It gives parents peace of mind knowing that our children will be covered in the event of an accident at work or when they are travelling. This is especially needed as we help them become more independent. I cannot overemphasise the importance of this initiative that NTUC Income is taking – it’s a major step in the right direction.”