Travel Insurance: Do I Really Need It?

No matter how old you are, there will always be people to worry about you whenever you travel. Whether it be on your gap year abroad, diving off the cliffs of Costa Rica, or your 50th anniversary spent in South Africa; both your friends and family may need that extra reassurance that you’ll be alright. Most importantly, no matter how confident you are in your own abilities, you can never predict what may or may not happen, so perhaps travel insurance can provide a little peace of your own mind as well.

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Regardless of your initial reason for purchase, the idea behind insurance is always the same; protection against the unplanned. More people than you realize end up paying obscene amounts of medical bills over the occurrence of just one unfortunate incident. With that being said, we do not want the fear of getting hurt to hinder your travels either. We want you to be able to hike up to the Tiger’s Nest of Bhutan, to Canyon down the waterfalls of Dalat; no adventurous soul wants the finances of bad luck to be a limiting factor, which is why travel insurance will not just benefit your family and friends, but your health and experience as well!

Annual and single trip coverage
A comprehensive travel insurance policy can assure that you are covered from most travel inconveniences possible; from travel interruptions to medical emergencies. If you are a frequent traveller, you may want to consider annual travel insurance, as it would provide you with the coverage you need, without having to go through the same paperwork each and every week. Otherwise, the bulk of us just trying to get the most out of our annual 14 days would be better off purchasing single trip insurance.

Most importantly, look beyond cost

You would want your insurance policy to cover the essentials for your particular trip, so make sure the policy that you are paying for covers you for the risks you may actually be exposed to, rather than the cheapest insurance policy out there that only covers lost baggage.

Many insurance companies have relatively strict claim procedures so as to protect themselves against fraud. This means that to claim insurance, you often are required to provide an extensive list of documentation prior to making a claim. Andrew, who had been on a ski trip in Japan, had misjudged a jump and fell head first, taking serious spinal and head injuries. An immediate phone call to the insurance company ensured that all the arrangements for appropriate medical care were handled directly by the insurance company; and since they knew exactly what was going on, claim procedures were a breeze.

Do ensure you are not already covered
Certain credit cards do provide coverage for travel purchases, and this already ensures you are covered, without having to purchase additional insurance. This is especially the case if you use a travel-linked card, such as a Citi PremierMiles Visa Card, or a DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card.

Where’s best to get it from?
Travel insurance is most commonly purchased through airlines, independent insurance companies, or through credit cards. If you’re not already covered by a credit card, independent insurance companies often do give airlines a good run for their money; their policies are often more comprehensive, and cheaper.

When to get covered
Please ensure you’re covered before you go for your trip. Don’t bother trying to purchase insurance for something that has already happened – you won’t be protected. That’s like purchasing life insurance for someone who has already passed away. As such, it is always advised to purchase insurance as soon as the trip is confirmed; you never know if you have to cancel a trip because of a family-related emergency that requires you to stay grounded. Pre-trip incidents are often included in the insurance coverage, and it makes sense to get insured early on to benefit from the full coverage offered.

In contrast to Andrew’s smooth sailing claim, the story of Tragic Sam might strike a chord with anyone of you who have had to make a claim before – as the leader of an overseas community service project, he had to file a claim for a volunteer who had contracted gastroenteritis during the trip and had to be hospitalized. What made the medical emergency claim difficult for him was the strict list of required documents to prove that everything was on a ‘must-have’ basis (insurance companies often aim to cover only essential services). This required doctor’s memos, and hospitalization invoices, documents which a local hospital in a developing country often don’t provide on hand. The fact that the grief stricken father of the volunteer demanded her to be flown back to Singapore to receive treatment did not help him with the claims in any way. Worst of all, the insurance company was not able to provide any help during the process, because of the lack of a customer centre in Vietnam.

Sam’s painful experience documents some important lessons; always ensure you are able to document your claims. When it comes to medical emergencies, it is often best to call ISOS, an international helpline, for assistance. As internationally-accredited hospital networks, they have the tools to provide you with the necessary help to make claims easier.

To sum up,
If you’re going on a really low-risk trip, like a weekend shopping trip to Bangkok, chances are you may never have to make a claim. But, there’s still a chance. Those of us that don’t want to deal with the anxiety may just find living life a lot easier and more enjoyable after purchasing an insurance plan; a deal I’d be happy to make. Insurances are always a gamble, and while you probably value the gamble for life insurance a lot more than over travel insurance, you don’t ever want to regret not buying insurance. Just make sure you’re not spending money for something that is completely useless, or something you already have.

Saving for your Child’s Tertiary Education

Going to University isn’t the only option available to our children, but it definitely is something we all need to plan for. The reality is that at the end of the day, when your kid, however talented and driven they are, is compared to another student with perhaps equal talent, equal drive and a University degree, most employers will feel inclined to choose the latter. So whether you decide to fund your child’s education or want them to self-fund, this article will cover the bases to making an informed decision.

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How much should I save?
In order to work out how much you need to start saving each month, we first must begin by working backwards. In Singapore, since 2010 university fees have seen an increase of about 1.5% each year. That means that with each passing year, there is an increasing trend in university tuition fees. This is something you need to prepare yourself for — how much you need to start saving each and every month.

In Singapore, since 2010, university tuition fees have seen an increase of about 1.5% each year. That means that with each passing year, there is an increasing inflation trend is observed. This is something you need to prepare yourself for — how much you need to start saving each and every month.

Today the average tuition fees in Singapore is about $25,000 (assuming a four-year degree programme as a local student). When you take into account the yearly inflation, in 20 years’ time this value will increase to be $38,000. If sending your child overseas for university studies is an option, you must also be aware that while these tuition fees may not be subjected to an annual inflation, studying overseas comes generally at a higher cost. In the United Kingdom, for example, the average tuition fees range from $35,000-$45,000 for international students. On top of that, additional expenses such as accommodation, living and flight expenses are to be taken into consideration.

After considering these factors, you can work out how much money needs to be set aside each month, depending on your time frame. Remember, the earlier you start saving, the less you’ll have to put aside each month. While your child’s education is important, don’t forget that today’s expenses are just as important as well. Don’t forget to pay your bills or your mortgage, just because you were too consumed by their tuition.

What are my options?
Besides saving, there are many financial products and investments that claim to target saving for your child’s education. However, before you decide on which financial product or investment you’d like to make, do the research and decide if this product will truly meet your needs.

Here are a few examples of financial products and investments that you may consider:

  1. Endowment Policies
    Endowment policies are ordinary premium policies that hold the purpose of saving over a certain period of time. A standard term usually lasts between 10-20 years and is often aimed at saving for a particular objective, such as your child’s university education or as a future wedding gift. In the case of preparing for their university education, make sure to base your endowment policy period on the age at which you would like to start saving.
  2. Exchange Traded Funds and Unit Trusts
    A unit trust and exchange traded funds (ETF) both pool the money of investors so that it may be invested in securities such as stocks and bonds. The key difference between the two is to whom the responsibility of trading of buying shares lies with. In regards to unit trusts, these are usually managed by management companies, and thus, investments are made through them as well. Whereas in an exchange-traded fund, investors may trade their own shares on the market exchanges via a broker, as opposed to buying them from a specific fund management company.Either way, the value of your fund’s investment will depend very heavily on the economic and political factors that surround it, as well as any shifts in exchange rates. Therefore, if you do not understand the product you are investing in, or if you consider yourself to be highly risk averse, then perhaps this kind of investment isn’t for you. But, if you consider this worth a chance, then make sure that because your investment has a fixed end goal, then perhaps choosing a unit trust or ETF that matches the same timeline and objective is best considered.
  3. Bonds
    Bonds are in essence, issued by borrowers in order to raise money from willing investors for a set period of time. When you buy a bond, you are lending money to the issuer. Once the stated period has expired, you will receive the face value of said bond. These are often regarded as safer than buying shares, however, bond holders will still be subject to credit default risk of the issuer. If the issuer’s credit quality falls, then this too may cause the price of your bond to fall as well. Furthermore, because bond prices move in the direction opposite to that of interest rates, if interest rates rise, the price of a bond may fall.

Conclusion
All three of these are examples of investments that you may provide for your child’s future tertiary education, however, remember that other options will always exist. If you are lucky enough and your child excels in either academics, athletics or arts, then perhaps they may be able to apply for some kind of scholarship. Furthermore, you cannot always plan for what course they’ll want to take, nor at which university they will school at. Therefore, be flexible with your estimations, and make sure to be as communicative with your kids!

Do email us @ contact@hive-up.com for more information about the various Universities in Singapore, we are more than happy to share.

Health Insurance 101

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Illnesses may strike at any time. It’s often important to ensure that you “upsize” your insurance to ensure you’re sufficiently covered. When it comes to health insurance, think of MediShield Life as the basic meal. What is an upsized meal, then? Read here to find out more!

 

Investing in Stocks for the First Time

So, you’re finally ready to invest in stocks, or whatever it is that everyone else your age is doing, but aren’t quite sure where to start? We’re here to help you do just that. In this article, we will cover the bases for everything you need prior to investing in your chosen stocks.

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1. Know yourself
If you are content with lower potential returns and are not the kind of person that bodes well under pressure and risk, perhaps investing in stocks isn’t for you.

To invest in stocks, you are required to be active — investing in stocks take up a lot more time. When investing in a mutual fund, this is an investment in a diversified portfolio of stocks funded by shareholders. Conversely, when investing in only a handful of individual stocks, your investment risk is not as evenly spread. Therefore, each stock will have to be monitored consistently in case any takes a turns for the worse.

Before deciding to invest in stocks, you have to have both the patience and capability of putting yourself and your funds at a greater risk, for a chance at greater returns.

2. Open a CPD account
A Central Depository Securities Account is a means of safeguarding shares that you have purchased on the local stock market. This account is administered by the SGX CDP, an organization that has a positive track record in smoothly operating and settling transactions. Before making your account, you have to consider the type — an individual, joint or corporate account. As most people look to creating an individual account, we will elaborate on this.

In order to make an individual CPD account, here you will require the following:
– 18 years or older
– not be bankrupt
– your identification card
– a copy of either:
a) a bank statement from a MAS licensed bank
b) a CPF statement or
c) a notice of tax assessment.

With all the required documentations, there are three ways for you to open your individual account.

1) You may mail your application and relevant supporting documents through postage.
2) You may apply over the counter at the CDP.
3) You may apply over the counter at an SGX/ST Member broker.

3. Open a trading account
This step is absolutely vital in your pursuit of investing in stocks, as you cannot trade stocks without an account. A trading account, otherwise known as a brokerage account, is one that you have with a brokerage firm, that enables you to buy and sell shares on the local market. There are a plethora of brokerage firms that you can choose from. Before you make your decision, research and compare the various firms — services, research tools and fees, to name a few. Don’t just go for the first one that comes your way, simply for convenience.

Secondly, ensure that your broker is properly licensed. You could check if they are listed by the MAS as a broker. With your money at stake, you might want to ensure that it is in the hands of someone experienced.
To open your account you will require:
– an identification card
– your bank account statements that have been issued within the last three months
– your latest tax statement and
– supporting documents as proof of your mailing address.

4. Choosing your game plan
While investing in stocks may seem as a whole be more suitable for the risk-averse, lower-risk investments do exist. If you are looking for a long-term investment, you might want to consider blue chip stocks — they hold a high dividend yield and are known to be very popular in Singapore, both for the investing virgins and the investing veterans.

As mentioned, investing in just a handful of stocks contains huge risks; albeit it’s potentially high reward due to its limited diversification. If you are looking for a way to lower your risk, diversify your portfolio. This allows your stock holdings to appear balanced and possibly counteract each other in the event that any one of them underperforms.

Lastly, no matter what your investment plan is, you must make sure to get into the habit of keeping yourself and your investments in check — consistently checking the daily financial news and data, not just to prevent your stocks from plummeting, but also to make better investment decisions in the future.

5. Selecting stock
Perhaps the most important step in investing in stocks is the actual selection of them. This selection will either make or break you, do put some proper tender loving care when it comes to making the decision. There are two main means of analysis that you may consider:

a) The Technical Approach
Technical analysis is the study of supply and demand. If you are someone who is intuitive and able to read market signals to predict possible price movements, this approach is for you! An advantage to this approach is time — it can be studied daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly.

Otherwise, you can always hire an expert to do the work for you.

b)The Fundamental Approach
Fundamental analysis is the study of the financial health of a company in order to determine the value of their stock. There are 3 main financial statements that need to be evaluated: a balance sheet, cash flow statement and income statement.

In regards to what stock investment is the best type, any potential investment that has a good mix of quality and value. Quality refers to a healthy cash flow or good earnings growth. While value refers to the current price of the stock, its sales and profits.

6. Relax and invest
Taking that very first step is always scary. Once you’ve decided on your game plan, all you need is the confidence. Don’t be afraid to take that step, leap if you have to, because this is only the beginning of what we hope will be a successful, albeit, not always perfect, investing experience!

Owners buying insurance for birds, dogs and cats.

Pets hold a very special place in the hearts of their owners. Yet, no matter how deeply you care for them, in the case of accidents or illness, that love alone is insufficient. As a result, we are often forced to send our pets to the emergency vet, which is not only taxing on you but on your wallet as well. However, since the introduction of full coverage policies provided to pet owners in Singapore, this issue has become less daunting. Such policies have been established by the likes of PetCare by Liberty Insurance, and more recently by Happy Tails by AON Insurance in 2015.

jonas-vincent-2717Photo by Jonas Vincent on Unsplash

Insurance as a whole is bought in order to help pay for large, unexpected or unplanned expenses, without which people would have trouble paying for. Through pet insurance, Singaporean pet owners may now be able to circumvent these expenses in the case of illness.

But before you can even consider what pet insurance is the right one for you, a few bases must be touched upon. First of all, you must make sure that your pet is eligible for said insurance. In the case of Happy Tails, a pet must fulfil several requirements prior to applying for insurance:

  • They must be aged between 16 weeks and 9 years.
  • They must be microchipped.
  • They must have completed all required vaccinations.
  • They must not be a working pet (e.g. involved in law enforcement, breeding,
  • guarding, racing or for other commercial use).
  • They must be clinically examined by a licensed vet within 30 days from the commencement date of the insurance.

Secondly, it must be acknowledged that premiums are often dependent upon multiple factors; including breed, age and the medical history of your pet. But despite these differences, all premiums should be able to offer your pet the very best of treatment. In the case of Happy Tails, the surgical treatment for any illness, accident or injury, including the post surgical follow-up, as well as specified hereditary, congenital conditions and cancer treatment are all covered, so long as they fall within the policy term.

Once you have considered both these, it is now time to choose which pet insurance policies are best for you. This article will compare PetCare and Happy Tails in order to exemplify the possible distinctions between policies that you may come across. PetCare as a basic and complete policy coverage is on the whole cheaper than Happy Tails, but what Happy Tails lack in affordability, they make up for in coverage. As such, it might be more worthwhile to spend that little bit extra for an insurance that will cover more potential incidences. The co-insurance (expenses are split between insurer and owner) models provide a clear differentiating factor.

CO-INSURANCE & DEDUCTIBLE

For co-insurance, Happy Tails has different percentages for different age groups:

  • 20% for dogs enrolled before age 4
  • 30% for dogs enrolled before age 7
  • 40% for dogs enrolled before age 9

PetCare has the same percentages for all ages:

  • 50% for non-surgical
  • 30% for surgical treatment

You will also have to bear a fixed amount of $250 in any claim for Happy Tails. PetCare only requires you to pay deductible for accidental injury ($50) and third party liability ($500).

NO CLAIM DISCOUNT

Double good news for those who do not need to claim for insurance! You will get to enjoy significant discounts regardless of your choice between Happy Tails or PetCare.

Period of insurance Discount (%)
Preceding year 5
Preceding 2 consecutive years 10
Preceding 3 consecutive years (or more) 15

If you only want to insure your dog with accidental coverage, you could consider Paw Safe by AIA (Singapore). A cheaper no-frills insurance policy, that protects against most of the ‘what-ifs’ that could happen; but, you are not protected against many diseases with which you would have to bring your pet to a vet for. So for an aged pet, that wouldn’t do you much good, as that’s where the bulk of your pet expenses would probably come from.
If you wouldn’t take a gamble on your own life, why gamble on the life of a loved one? Purchasing pet insurance might just save you the heartache of not just the potential loss of a pet, but the financial devastation that unplanned for incidences might bring about. If you want to a more in depth comparison, do contact us at contact@hive-up.com for further details.

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7 simple steps to becoming a millionaire:

  1. Start small
  2. Start saving (today)
  3. Two is better than one. Widen your social network and get yourself out there!
  4. Plan ahead
  5. Take calculated risks
  6. Think BIG!
  7. Invest in yourself

The Buzz about FinTechs

You’ve heard about it from friends, coworkers, and even family members. “FinTech” is the new revolution, but with all things new, you may be wondering; what exactly is a “FinTech”, and what use does it have to you?

Well, “FinTech”, or financial technologies, is basically a catch-phrase for any company that aims to use technology to make finance more accessible. These companies can either be at the forefront, offering consumers like you, digital tools to make their finances easier; or they can be back-end ventures to help financial institutions, such as banks, insurance and investment companies, make their processes more streamlined.

Swarm the Hive @cookiesandqreamphoto made with love by OOWA

To put it simply, “FinTechs” provides everyone and anyone with CONVENIENCE.

“FinTechs” can provide consumers like you and I greater options across anything from mobile payments, money transfers, loans, and even asset management. On top of this, they help businesses by providing greater options for fundraising and resource management.

And it is this convenience that has been fuelling the surging rise of “FinTechs” across the globe. In 2008, the “FinTech” market was valued at USD$930 million. In 2015, this rose to USD$12 billion. However, all this buzz and innovation behind “FinTech” could be exactly what is holding it back – financial industries are typically grounded in stability and predictability. Providing security for the users of financial companies is the single biggest consideration of any bank and “FinTech”.

So how can you trust “FinTechs”, when they seemingly go against everything you want?

The answer is that it doesn’t. “FinTech” have the ability to balance innovation and security; to give you convenience that you can trust. While making money transfers easier and cheaper, with lower fees, many “FinTechs” still follow the same regulations that ensure security in traditional banks. “FinTechs” through which financial products such as investments and insurances are bought still need the same financial licenses as your most trusted financial advisor. Many of these “FinTechs” often have a team of financial advisors with them to which they can refer you to. Robo-advisors that help you simplify your personal finances are designed with algorithms that curate financial portfolios tailored to your financial goals. They help you figure out how much you need, for the life that you want.

“FinTechs” have changed the way your finances are being handled.

The big banks are worried about the rise in “FinTechs”, rapidly acquiring “FinTechs” to incorporate the innovations into their own systems, and this should excite you. “FinTechs” make doing business more accessible and cheaper because of their capitalization on new technology. They can do so because they are more adaptable and innovative, not because they are less policed. So if you don’t want to wait for a bank (which might take forever) to start doing what you want, you might just find a fintech that does so for you.

M-Pesa is an example of such an innovation. It is a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing service that has become vastly popular in the countries such as Kenya, India, and most recently, Albania. Launched in 2007, it allows users to do everything and anything money-wise, from a mobile phone. This means that in these countries, especially in Kenya, SMS messages have replaced the need for a credit card, and authorised agents such as convenience stores, all the while being regulated by their respective central banks.

One thing we know for sure is that fintech will only get bigger. While maybe not in the same way as M-Pesa has in the developing countries, more innovations will definitely come our way, and we need to be able to adapt and embrace the change. Even in Singapore, ApplePay is slowly changing the need for material credit cards. Soon, don’t be surprised if you are no longer given a physical card, but just an online representation of it.

At Hive Up,

We are a “FinTech”. We aim to provide you with the tools you need to figure out how to better manage your finances personally. We aim to make managing your finances convenient, while truly understanding the ‘why’ behind your investment or insurance choice. Whether or not you use our platforms, we hope that you will be able to write your own financial success story.

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