An email from Ah Gong to his grandson, Ryan
Re: Imagine Your Life Without Insurance
Thanks for your previous email. I’m doing very well here in Penang, thanks for asking.
How have you been? With the birth of your second child, I’m sure you’re very busy. I’ll be dropping by Singapore for your baby’s first month celebration, did your mother tell you?
Speaking to her the other day, I heard that you’re still not inclined to getting insurance for yourself and your family? That’s a little worrying. As someone who didn’t get insurance until 30 years ago, I really advise against getting it later in life. In fact, get it as early as possible. You don’t know when you’ll need it.
Let me tell you how it was like living without insurance. When I was younger, I was confident that my family and I didn’t need it. We were all healthy and money was already tight, so why get it?
But your grandmother fell ill in her 40s. Starting out as a bad case of the flu, it progressed to pneumonia. Paying for visits to the doctor and her medicine already ate into our savings, but the doctor said she still had to be hospitalised. We had no means to pay. We helplessly watched her grow weaker each day, till she passed away a month or two later.
The years following your grandmother’s death were very hard. To make up for the incurred medical expenses and to put enough food on the table for your mother and uncles, I took up a lot of odd jobs.
Once, I got heavily injured in a traffic accident while delivering some equipment. I worried about how my children were going to survive. Luckily, the business owner whose equipment I had been delivering was very kind. He paid for all my bills, and even gave me some pocket money so the family could get by while I was recovering.
This episode was a wake-up call for me. The owner spoke to me about insurance. He was surprised that even in my 40s, I never considered getting it. Using my injury as a case in point, he pointed out how insurance would have been very useful. It would provide protection for any financial losses suffered from unforeseen circumstances and events. He also spoke about the possibilities of someone else in the family getting injured or falling ill again, and how I would cope.
I didn’t want any of that to happen, but what if something did?
Over the two months that I took to recover, the owner came by every now and then. He taught me everything he knew about insurance and investments. What I learned from him became useful later.
Eventually, with his persuasion I got insurance for my family. I was almost 50, but I haven’t regretted it since. I also bought an endowment plan, which has helped me grow my wealth and keep pace with my changing financial goals and needs.
Ryan, I’m a little envious of all the options you have today. If there’s anything you should take away from my life experiences, let it be this: life insurance can help your family in so many ways, and they’re most effective if you get them when you’re young.
If I had had the means and sense to begin when I was your age, I’d like to think that I’d be enjoying my retirement a little bit more. I might even be writing this to you from the sunny beaches of Hawaii instead of back here in my hometown...
Oh well. It’s too late for me, but it isn’t for you. I do hope you’ll give this another thought!
See you soon.
Your Ah Gong
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