Great Eastern launches first insurance policy for SARS


  • Business
  • Wednesday, 07 May 2003

GREAT Eastern Life Assurance (M) Bhd has launched the country's first insurance policy for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), providing a one-off cash payment of RM5,000 to policyholders diagnosed to have the disease and treated either in Malaysia or Singapore. 

Its chief executive officer Alex Foong Soo Hah said the special SARS coverage was aimed at offering timely financial assistance and a financial safety net for those with confirmed diagnosis of SARS (presently defined as probable SARS based on current World Health Organisation definitions and with designated treatment such as hospital isolation and quarantine). 

The coverage, effective April 1 to Oct 31 this year, comes free with all new life insurance policies that have a minimum annual life premium of RM1,200 or a single premium of RM12,000. 

Great Eastern's existing traditional life insurance policyholders would also receive free SARS coverage when they add on new policy, riders or endorsements to their existing policies where the premium is more than or equivalent to an annualised premium of RM500 or a minimum of RM5,000 for single premium policy, Foong told a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. 

Alex Foong at the official launch of the special SARS coverage policy.

Investment-linked policy owners can choose to top up their policies with a minimum amount of RM1,000 to their single or regular premium policies.  

The SARS benefit is applicable only to SARS cases diagnosed and treated in Malaysia and Singapore, and is payable once per lifetime. 

The coverage period is a year from the policy commencement date or top-up date of the policy and is subject to a 30-day waiting period and a 30-day survival period.  

A cash benefit of RM5,000 would be payable to the policy owners (life assured) upon the confirmed diagnosis and confirmation of SARS by medical and health authorities. 

Great Eastern would also double the coverage to RM10,000 for medical personnel covered under the Great Eastern SARS insurance plan, in the event they contract SARS. 

Foong said: “As the largest life insurer in Malaysia, we believe Great Eastern should take the lead in providing its policyholders with a choice of getting the protection they need.” 

On another note, Foong said no deadline had been set for the back door listing of the Malaysian operations of Great Eastern Holdings Ltd. 

“Negotiations are still at the preliminary stages between GEL Capital (M) Bhd and PacificMas Bhd.” 

In February, PacificMas announced a proposed merger with GEL Capital, which would result in the injection of two Great Eastern Holdings wholly-owned units – Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) and its general insurance arm Overseas Assurance Corp (M) Bhd – into PacificMas, which would subsequently result in Great Eastern Holdings Ltd owning a 51% stake in PacificMas. 

Great Eastern Life Assurance Malaysia is the country's largest and oldest life insurance player with assets in excess of RM18bil as at Dec 31 last year. 

Foong said the company continued to be the leader in the local life insurance sector with a 25% growth in new business last year and more than 2.5 million policies in force. Its gross premium growth of 27% last year was stronger than Great Eastern's Singapore operations. 

Currently, Great Eastern Malaysia has some 15,000 agents and a service network comprising 24 branches nationwide.  

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