Looking forward – FWD boss on cancer assurance and the future

"Two in five Singaporeans are likely to get diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives"

Looking forward – FWD boss on cancer assurance and the future

Life & Health

By Kenneth Araullo

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the economic costs of cancer at US$1.16 trillion every year as of 2010, a figure that is likely to have grown in the last decade or so. For Singaporeans, it’s a cost potentially concerning a large portion of the population, as 40% of citizens are likely to get the disease during their lifetime. For FWD Singapore, led by CEO-designate Adrian Vincent (pictured), this challenge also represents an opportunity to empower and help its policyholders.

Two in five Singaporeans are likely to get diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and with the disease being the leading cause of death in Singapore, we saw an opportunity to encourage detection of cancer and support Singaporeans so they can be prepared financially for the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis,” Vincent said.

Speaking with Insurance Business Asia, Vincent talked about the insurer’s new Cancer 2.0 offering, a step-up from its previous critical illness product, and how it was developed to “help bridge the protection gap and provide our customers with a comprehensive cancer coverage for assurance.”

Touted as “the most comprehensive online cancer plan in Singapore” as of the end of 2022, Cancer 2.0 provides coverage for all stages of cancer, from pre-early, to early- and late-stage, as well as the possibility of recurring and even new cancer. Vincent said that the policy provides coverage that encourages Singaporeans to go for their regular check-up by providing an additional 10% of the sum insured or $10,000, whichever is lower, upon cancer diagnosis as well as subsequent removals of benign tumours or borderline malignant tumours.

“This benefit does not affect the coverage for other benefits so customers can have the peace of mind that they will continue to be covered,” he said.

A 100% payout

One of the key offerings that FWD’s Cancer 2.0 has is its 100% payout of the sum insured for all stages of the disease. Vincent said that this is also applicable regardless of the stage of cancer diagnosed and that customers will have the full flexibility to use it for treatment or other commitments.

“After a first claim for any stage of cancer, customers can continue to be covered for any subsequent new or recurring late-stage cancer diagnosis with 100% of the sum insured,” he said.

Recognising the importance of having a diverse array of diagnoses, Vincent said that customers protected by Cancer 2.0 coverage can also obtain a complimentary second medical opinion of their cancer and its treatment plan from FWD’s panel of doctors.

Vincent also said that customers can receive additional support from its FWD Care Recovery Program, which offers support for needs that “go beyond the financial.” Cancer is debilitating, and to ease the burden this plan goes through the list of post-treatment worries that patients go through such as home assistance, counselling, home nursing care assistance, and more.

Partnering with MiRXES

The comprehensive plan for this cancer insurance product needed a partner with the capability to make early detection more accessible on a global scale. Enter MiRXES, an RNA technology company, and FWD’s collaborator in identifying cancers to treat them as early as possible. Vincent also said that the partnership resulted in a screening package which searches for the most common cancers across the sexes.

“The screening package focuses on cancer early detection covering the two most common cancers affecting men and women – colon cancer for men and breast cancer for women – and also includes GASTROClear, the world's first molecular blood test approved for use in early detection of gastric cancer,” he said.

What’s next for the pan-Asian insurer?

The company’s focus on insuring Singaporeans from cancer is just one of its trajectories. Vincent said that the insurer is doubling down efforts and resources to introduce products that go beyond to future-proof customers when it comes to other critical illnesses.

“We hope to champion a principle-based approach with products that cover customers for an impairment, surgery or intensive care required for the functioning of key body systems such as cardiovascular system and respiratory system,” he said. “This will cover customers beyond a defined list of critical illnesses and keep up with modern advancement in medical science where new diagnostic tools and treatments are getting discovered for new diseases.”

FWD has also set its sights on emerging markets and gaining better traction by going public. The pan-Asian insurer has recently acquired a majority stake in Gibraltar BSN, one of Malaysia’s largest insurers, and refiled its application for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEx) in an offering that could see it raising $1 billion.

Bigger ambitions aside, Vincent said that the insurer is also focused on collaboration and other investment solutions.

“A huge focus for us this year is also on wealth planning. Beyond critical illness protection, customers can also look forward to saving and investment solutions that were developed in partnership with established global fund managers and will support our customers in wealth building and legacy planning,” Vincent said.

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