Insurance would probably be the last thing that many young people like me would spend money on.
“Getting insured” seems apt only for the sick and aging people. In the Philippines, getting an insurance plan is the least of the majority’s concern, since many of the Filipinos would rather buy food for the table than shell out thousands of pesos for something intangible as “assurance for the future.” For the many working class, insurance (GSIS in my case before) is the Php1,000 deducted monthly (from a salary of Php20,000+), but given the chance, I bet they’d rather spend the thousand pesos on something else like an Internet connection, a night out, or a Forever 21 dress.
Not so many people concern themselves with what lies ahead, perhaps because we think that, instead of worrying ourselves with the future, we should concentrate on NOW, the present. Come what may~ that’s their motto.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the present. Problem is, most of the time, when the unexpected happens, say an accident or death, many Filipinos who didn’t prepare for the future are caught off guard. I’ve seen so many interviews in news where the relatives of the departed would say “Hindi namin alam kung saan kami kukuha ng pampalibing” or “Hindi namin alam kung paano na kami ngayon.” That’s because the average Philippine wage is not enough to convince us to buy insurance plans.
Late last year, my sister asked me to meet a young lady who offered her premium insurance. This lady, Izah Morales, is a former staff of the University paper that I was also part of, but Izah belongs to a younger batch, so I never really had a chance to know her. That time, my sister had gone back to Singapore and Izah needed her to accept the policy so I agreed to meet her.
When Izah and I met, she turned out to be a polite, likable person who smiles like a child (who would resist her offers? It’s like saying no to a smiling kid).
I was a bit surprised that the insurance is Pru Life UK (okay, they should pay me for this PR-ish blog). It’s a well-advertised insurance company in the Philippines and Singapore. First time I saw a Pru Life billboard ad in Cebu in 2006 (I think), I pointed it out to my friend Kei and remarked that even the advocacy ads in English are Bisayan. She said, she thinks there’s a company called Pru Life. And I thought it was Bisayan for Pro-Life. Later on, I was told that it’s short for Prudential, but since there’s already such company registered in the Philippines, they used the nick name. Pru Life ads can also be seen in nice glossies and other media. To be honest, since I have no interest in insurance, the only insurance companies I know were Philam Life, Coco Life, Prudential Life and, of course, GSIS and SSS.
I got curious how much the insured ones will be getting and how much they have to pay every month. She explained some of the policy terms and I thought it cool. Being the entrepreneur that Izah is, she asked if I’d be interested to get one myself. I’ve been thinking of deaths late last year because of a number of people around me dying, one is from accident, another is heart attack. What I didn’t like about death, should I die right now for instance, is the thought of leaving my family. I’m a breadwinner. I’m the type of person who would give what I have, especially if we’re talking about family here. Sometimes, I forget about my budget and savings to accommodate their needs (I have six brothers woohoo). Thankfully, my salary allows me to give them enough while leaving enough for myself (it’s win-win). But then again, should something happen to me, I might not be prepared, financially speaking (knock on the wood). The Filipinos’ common way out of this is debts. Mangungutang na lang ako, as we commonly hear. Middle class families like ours would usually rely on relatives in times like this, instead of going to formal loan firms. But as everybody, anyone who has ever borrowed money, knows, debts are not the most comfortable thing to nurse in your mind.
I told Izah that I’d think about it. Since I was still finishing my cup of hot chocolate that time and she seemed exhausted from the long trip she just had to meet me, she used the time to briefly explain that today’s insurance is different now, like, aside from protection, life insurance may include investment policies if you opt for it. Part of your money can be put in the stocks (they have stock managers) and equities and all those big financial words.
I told her, I’d think about it, she said she’ll email me the policy options and contract terms, and I gave her a heads up that I might not understand it completely, but I’ll ask someone’s help (someone who’s more financially literate). But that time, I was starting to consider it. The lowest option Php3,000 is roughly a hundred Sing dollars. Not bad, I thought. Plus, I can withdraw it in due time. Plus, if anything happens to me, there’s a ready money to bury me and some more to leave my family (all this talk of insurance will really nudge you to look at the realities you don’t want to look at, yet).
Long story short, I met up with Izah again for her to “present” to me. We were in Starbucks, so people around us could easily hear Izah’s voice talking while pointing at her laptop (she has a Powerpoint presentation). Nobody would guess that the two of us were talking about insurance and investments. We’re more like college classmates practicing our Econ report, while drinking overpriced coffee. I had no problems understanding the stocks, but equities and actuarial computations, man… I should’ve brought along my brother whose major is Actuarial Science,
whatever that is). I asked some questions and she would answer them all brightly. Then documents were prepared (I seem to be signing lots of documents lately).
There’s one part in our conversation, though, when I was expecting her to be discouraged. I know that insuring me is a high risk. I love outdoor adventure, I travel a lot, I could die anytime given the exposure I openly throw myself to. When I pointed this out to her, she laughed and couldn’t respond for a while, because there’s truth to it. Then we jokingly decided that I shall not have an accident and, uh, I wouldn’t die yet.
I signed the contract.