The most important facet of insurance is that it protects you against financial liabilities, whether they are as small as some damaged luggage during your trip or as large as an expensive surgery. If something happens to you that is covered by one of your insurance plans, you will have to submit a claim to receive financial compensation. But since different types of insurance have different claim procedures that are laden with fine print, filing a claim successfully may be frustrating. Below, we aim to break down the basics of filing a claim, from common procedures to filing with multiple insurance companies.
Table of Contents
- Submitting a Claim
- Appealing a Denied Claim
- Tips to Reduce Denied Claims
Steps to Submitting a Claim: What You Need to Know
Each insurance company has different claim processes. To break it down even more, each type of insurance has different processes as well. In general, there are three things you should be aware of when filing a claim: the length of time between the claim submission and insured event, the documents you need and the avenue of submission.
The length of time between an insured event occurring and when you need to submit a claim is generally 14-30 days. However, depending on the type of insurance and the insurer, you may have a larger or smaller time window. For instance, you have to report a car accident within 24 hours and get started on the claims process immediately. Other, smaller car insurance claims can be filed within 14 days. Health insurance claims have longer claim submission windows. For instance, some insurers let you file a hospitalisation claim within 90 days of the billing date to 120 days from pre or post-hospitalisation treatment claims. You can find out how soon you need to file a claim by reading your policy document. However, it is best to file your claim as soon as something happens to get your payout as soon as possible.
The documents you need depend on the type of claim you are submitting. They are imperative to making sure your claim is processed correctly and without delay. Make sure all the documents you submit are legible and are the copy that the insurer states (original or copies). You will also need to retain these documents for a certain period of time after you submit your claim in case problems with your claim arise.
|Type of Claim||Ex. Insurance Policies||Documents Needed|
|Loss or damage claims||Travel/Car/Home insurance|
|Hospitalisation||Personal Accident/Maid/Car Insurance|
|Integrated Shield Plan||Health Insurance|
|Travel Inconvenience (cancellations, delays)||Travel Insurance|
|Death||Travel/Life/Car/Critical Illness/Personal Accident|
|Critical Illness||Critical Illness Insurance|
You should also note the way you need to submit your claim. As insurers adopt new technology, we are seeing a rise in online or mobile submissions. In most cases, you can claim via online or email submission for general insurance claims (i.e. travel, car, home, maid, etc.). For death or hospitalisation claims, you may have to either email, fax or mail the claim forms and documents. Private health insurance will require you to submit your documents electronically to the hospital. Almost all insurers who have a physical office in Singapore still let you visit one of their branches to drop off your claim.
Claim Processing Times
The length of time your claim will be processed depends on the insurer and the type of claim you're filing. Some claims can be submitted and processed automatically, such as medical claims for FWD's travel insurance. Other claims, like car insurance claims, can take longer as they require in-depth investigations. From our research we found that it is pretty standard to expect processing times of a couple of weeks for most types of claims. To avoid longer processing times, you must submit all the appropriate documentation with all the correct information. Something as small as misspelling your name can add weeks to your claim processing time.
Sample of Insurers and Their Stated Processing Times
|Insurer||Average Claim Processing Time||Notes|
|Income||10-14 working days||10 days for health/home insurance; 14 days for PA|
|AXA||14-21 working days||For hospitalisation/outpatient claims|
|AIA||14 working days|
|AIG||3-10 working days||3 for travel, 10 for others|
|Great Eastern||6-8 weeks||For claims @ restructured hospitals|
Some insurers state only the acknowledgement time on their website, whereas others tell you how long it will take to process your claim. Acknowledgement only indicates that the insurer has received your claim. Processing time is the time it will take for your insurer to process (look over) your claim before delivering a decision.
Filing a Claim with Multiple Insurance Companies
It may be possible to file a claim with multiple insurers. However, your success rate depends on the type of insurance policy you are claiming for. Life insurance and related products (endowment, invest-linked, critical illness, personal accident) let you claim across multiple policies. However, you should note that there will be a total limit to the amount you can claim.
You can't claim across multiple Integrated Shield Plan policies as you won't be able to buy more than one. If you have another health insurance policy provided by your employer, you will have to claim under your group or company policy first and then file a claim under your Integrated Shield Plan. Your payout will depend on the leftover amount not paid by the first insurer.
Similar to health insurance, general insurance policies like home, car, travel and maid will not let you file the same claim across multiple insurers. Home insurance requires you to file a claim with the MCST or HDB town council before filing a claim with them. The payout will only occur if the damage or loss isn't covered by the HDB town council or MCST or if the loss or damage is greater than the limits of insurance taken out by the MCST or HDB town council.
However, you can still buy multiple general insurance policies if you find one of your policies doesn't have sufficient coverage. You will not be able to claim for the same event, but you may be able to claim for different events across different insurances (for example, claiming for medical expenses with one insurer and travel delay with another insurer). However, doubling down on your insurance coverage can get expensive. Instead, you should compare plans carefully and only buy a plan that covers your concerns fully. If you're concerned about insufficient coverage, we provide in-depth guides for a variety of popular insurance policies, including travel, car, home, health and life.
Appealing a Denied Claim
If your claim was denied, you may be able to argue the denial. However, it is a multi-step process that is complicated and can take a long time. Before you decide to appeal a denied claim, you should read why the claim was denied. It could be because you submitted a claim for an excluded event, accidentally forgot to disclose important information or forgot to submit a required document.
If you believe your claim was denied for none of those reasons, you can submit a complaint directly with your insurer. Your complaint should be acknowledged within 3 working days and a progress update will be reported within 14 working days. If you're unsatisfied with the response, then you can appeal to the Chief Executive of the insurer. If that doesn't rectify the situation, you can file a complaint with the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre for free. You can file a complaint for free by fax, post, email or in person.
Tips to Reduce Denied Claims
The best way to reduce the chances of your claim getting denied is to thoroughly review your policy document. Your policy document will distill everything you are and aren't covered for and also tells you which events fall under which categories. You'll find that exclusions aren't limited to certain events, you may also get your claim denied if your insurer things you were negligent or you did something that increased the risk of an insured event. For instance, something as seemingly harmless as leaving your car door unlocked while you run to pick something up from the store can get you in trouble with your car insurer. You should also make sure you fully disclose all the appropriate information on your application. For instance, denying that you have a pre-existing condition will get you in trouble with your insurer and you won't be able to claim for that condition.
You should also submit as much relevant documentation and information as possible when filing your claim. This is imperative for policies that have high numbers of fraudulent claims, like travel insurance.
Lastly, you need to follow all the directions when submitting a claim. Each insurer has a dedicated claims section that tells you the steps you need to follow, the forms you need to fill out and the best way to submit your claim. If you have any questions, you can always contact your insurer and they'll be able to help you out.