Singaporeans show strong commitment to family needs, not insurance: HSBC study

An HSBC survey showed that whilst Singaporeans still support their families financially, more than half do not hold any insurance plans that can protect them in case of illness or accident.

HSBC bank signage is pictured in Singapore
HSBC bank signage is pictured in Singapore Reuters

Blood is indeed thicker than water for Singaporeans when it comes to financial decisions.

According to the Power of Protection study by HSBC, traditional family values still drive Singaporean's decisions when it comes to financial situations. In fact, the majority of Singaporeans (77 percent) are still providing financial support to their family. This is in contrast to their counterparts in the UK and USA where only around 44-48 percent still carry their families' financial burdens.

In particular, close to half (45 percent) of Singaporeans are still providing for their grown-up children, and 72 percent are financially supporting their living parents.

Additionally, of those that regularly support their family members financially, half of their disposable income is spent on others. 46 percent of Singaporeans have to put off their own aspirations to help their family.

HSBC Insurance Singapore CEO Ian Martin said the 'feel good' factor of being able to provide the family more than just making up for the emotional strain. For the personal sacrifices that they have to make, 57 percent of Singaporeans believe they are a good provider, while 54 percent feel appreciated by their family members.

"Strong family ties are an important part of many Asian cultures and Singapore is no exception. But strong family ties also mean Singaporeans are having to provide financial support for their family members that extend beyond levels seen in other cultures such as the West," he said.

Meanwhile, when asked to choose between their own retirement fund and financial support for the family, 68 percent of Singaporeans said they would prioritise paying for their children's education whilst 66 percent of them noted that they would prioritise their parents' health and social care over themselves.

However, 62% of Singaporeans claimed that they do not have insurance that would pay them a regular sum in the event of a serious illness or accident. Another 51% said they do not hold any insurance products for their families.

Martin noted that this is a concern, given the rapidly ageing population of Singaporeans. In 2024, the city-state will join the group of super-aged nations, where one in five people are aged 65 or older.

He stressed that with greater longevity, Singaporeans will need to plan better in order to sufficiently provide for their parents' as well as their own needs in old age.

"While most Singaporeans have existing safeguards in the form of their Medishield and integrated shield plans that will cover part of their medical expenses, having additional insurance coverage such as early critical care insurance will be equally important," he said.

He stressed that such insurance protections will ensure that dependents will continue to get the much-needed financial support when a breadwinner is hit with a major illness and is unable to work during the recovery period.

"Not only do they need to provide for their growing children, but they are also in many cases supporting their aged parents. In doing so, the danger is that they may leave themselves inadequately prepared for their own retirement and health care needs," he said.