[SPONSORED] Revealed: How Takaful Products Get Created (from the Team that Made i-Great Aman) 

It’s not every day that you get to ask about the takaful plan creation process directly from the people who actually create them for a living.

That’s right, these two ladies from Great Eastern Takaful Berhad makes takaful products. From scratch. They don’t distribute them (that’s the agents’ job). They make them. 

Say hi to Ms. Nurul Sheila Khalib and Ms. Azlina Ideris from the Product Development team at Great Eastern Takaful Berhad (two ladies sitting on the left). 

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As someone who is fascinated by behind-the-scenes of the financial industry in Malaysia, I really want to thank them for sharing with me and RoR readers how the takaful creation process looks like.

Here are the 4 stages.

Stage 1: Ideation 

In this stage, the Product Development team at Great Eastern Takaful Berhad holds brainstorming sessions to hash out which takaful products should be offered to the Malaysian market. 

Sometimes, the team would cross out certain types of takaful products due to limitations. Maybe the market for a particular product is too small to make the product development worthwhile. Some products are also crossed out for being too similar to existing products.    

After whittling down their choices, the team holds targeted focus group sessions to get feedback. “This is how we find out the feasibility of the product,” said Ms. Nurul Sheila, “it is important to figure out what the market actually wants (or there’s no point in creating it)”. 

For example, during the creation process of Great Eastern Takaful Berhad’s newest product, i-Great Aman, the team found out that the market is seeking a comprehensive-type investment-linked takaful/insurance product that is easy to customise

As such, i-Great Aman is designed so that the basic Family Takaful, which provides protection upon Death / TPD, can be chosen on its own or with any or all of the optional coverage below:

  • Critical Illness
  • Medical card (multiple types and plans)
  • Personal Accident
  • Hospitalisation Benefit
  • Waiver benefit – where you pay a little bit extra to get Great Eastern Takaful Berhad to pay on your behalf if something happens and you can’t work and unable to pay your monthly contributions (yes this type also got)

You can choose to get the basic plan together with your choice of optional coverage for yourself or for any one of your dependents (spouse and/or children). And there is also waiver on the payor’s life that you can choose to add if you decide to get a plan for your loved ones (spouse and/or children), where GETB will pay on your behalf if something untoward happens to you and make sure your loved ones stay protected. 

(I was curious to see what kind of mix-and-match plan I could get under i-Great Aman. Scroll further down to see the quotations I got)

Bonus section! What each takaful/insurance does, in 20 words or less:

  • Basic Protection (Death / TPD) – give your family/dependents money after you’re gone or suffers from total and permanent disability. Important if you’re the primary breadwinner
  • Personal accident – give you and your family/dependents money, if an accident caused your death or to be totally and permanently disabled.
  • Critical illness – give you money, if you are diagnosed with or have undergone a surgery due to any one of the listed illnesses
  • Medical card – covers your medical bills with multiple plan options to choose from to get nicer room and better care at the hospital
  • Hospitalisation benefit – gives you money for each day that you’re hospitalised. This is crucial if you’re self-employed and can’t gain any work/income during hospitalisation. 

Stage 2: Testing with Agents

At this stage, top agents of Great Eastern Takaful Berhad will get involved. “We talk to the agents and get their feedback about the product,” explains Ms. Azlina, “They are on the ground and know what their clients want (and don’t want).”

Another reason to talk to the agents – to get their views on the product pricing. Seasoned agents know what customers are willing to pay, especially in this economy. It must appeal to value-hunters. 

Therefore, i-Great Aman comes with these kinds of features:

  • From RM100 per month – The basic plan is affordable enough for most people, so you can start your coverage sooner rather than later. You can add on more coverage as and when you make more money in the future
  • Auto-extension coverage – basically means it’s not mafan, because no need to manually renew at age 70 and 80 years old (where takaful plan usually stops covering you)
  • No Lapse Facility – to have the peace of mind that the coverage will continue within the first 3 certificate years, even if the fund perform badly and that the Account Value (from the investment funds) is very low and may not be sufficient to cover the Tabarru’ charges. 
  • Flexible options – where you have the option to choose from any one of the 3 funds or a combination of the funds, and you get to switch between your funds as you like to maximize your returns (for Free!), You also get to add more money (when you suddenly receive some durian runtuh) in your selected funds as a single top up (and you can repeat this as many times as you have extra cash). The best part is, when you need some cash urgently (like suddenly wanting to get married), you can make partial withdrawal from the account value (just ensure that the balance of the fund is at least RM1000) without jeopardising your protection. 
  • Badal Hajj services – if you die before you complete your hajj obligation, i-Great Aman will get someone to do it on your behalf
  • Wider Critical Illness coverage – 45 illnesses instead of the standard 36  
  • Get back 50% of the underwriting surplus and investment profit from Tabarru’ fund (if any). The money is given automatically, with no additional or separate steps needed (I asked). This is the beauty of Takaful.
  • For the medical cards – high annual limit of up to RM2 million, and NO LIFETIME LIMIT 

 

 

Bonus section! Why medical cards with high annual limit and preferably no lifetime limit is optimal

If you get hospitalised, you don’t know if your bill is going to be RM1000 or RM1 million. It depends on your luck. The point of having a medical card is to not worry about this bill.  

If your annual limit is low, let’s say RM100k or so, and your medical bill came up to RM350k, then you’ll have to pay the difference out of pocket. 

That’s obviously not the ideal situation. So you want a card with a high annual limit. Statistically speaking, RM1 mil annual limit is sufficient for most situations. 

Medical cards with no lifetime limit, on the other hand, is quite hard to find, based on my personal experience at least. Usually takaful/insurance providers will cap the lifetime limit. If your lifetime limit is RM1 mil, and your medical bills came to RM250k in one year, that means the balance of your lifetime limit is now reduced to RM750k. Not ideal too. 

Tl;dr – If you want medical cards, consider its annual and lifetime limit 

Stage 3: Management-level clearance

After doing all the planning and getting feedback, the product is pretty much finalised. In the next stage, the Product Development team must get clearance – basically get all the paperwork and underwriting in order, and also making sure that the numbers make sense, business-wise and of course getting the Shariah Committee approval on the product (because this is Takaful and it is Shariah compliant!). 

The team also plans with the related departments to hold training sessions with Great Eastern Takaful Berhad’s staff and agents, so that they know how to explain the product to you when it’s released. 

Stage 4: Product launch and distribution

Finally, the product is made available to the public. Great Eastern Takaful Berhad’s marketing and communications arm work hard to get the news out there (this collaboration with Ringgit Oh Ringgit is one such effort). 

I asked if i-Great Aman is available online, because I’m a Millennial like that. 

The answer is no, you still have to get it through agents. This is because:

  • People have the tendency to over or under-cover themselves. The agent’s role is to figure out the fine balance between what you want vs. what you can afford. No point if you get the highest coverage possible but can only afford the monthly contributions for like, 6 months. 
  • Part of your monthly contributions goes to an investment fund, which you’ll get back at the end of the term (that’s why this is called an investment-linked product). There are just 3 funds to choose from, but people might pick investment funds that are not suitable for themselves
  • Generally speaking, people don’t buy lifelong commitments online. They prefer making a decision after talking it out with a professional
  • Seriously, what I shared so far about i-Great Aman is just the tip of the iceberg. You have to ask so many other things to your agent, like:

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My i-Great Aman quotations

As mentioned above, I myself was curious about what kind of mix-and-match plan I get under i-Great Aman. So I got two quotations – one for RM450 per month, and another for RM500 per month. 

Please note that:

(1) the monthly contributions are on the high side because I insisted the quotations include medical cards, which jacks up the amount (if you want RM1xx-2xx monthly contributions, simply remove the medical cards or reduce the room and board plan), and 

(2) these quotations were personalised; your monthly contributions will vary according to:

  • The amount of sum covered you want (the higher it is, the higher your contribution)
  • Your gender (I thought men have higher contributions but apparently women of certain age groups may get higher contributions too)
  • Your age (the older you are, the higher)
  • Your smoking status (smokers pay more)
  • (Circumstantial) Your health status 

With RM450 monthly contributions, I can get the below i-Great Aman plan:

  • Family Takaful for myself – RM300,000 sum covered
  • [i-CIBR] Critical illness coverage for myself  – RM300,000 sum covered
  • [i-CABX] Personal accident coverage for myself – RM50,000 sum covered
  • [i-HB] Hospitalisation benefit for myself – RM200 per day
  • [i-MX200 + i-MO120k] Medical card with RM200 for daily room and board, with RM1.2 million annual limit and no lifetime limit
  • [i-PP] Provider coverage – if anything happens to me and I can’t pay the monthly contributions due to total and permanent disability (TPD) or critical illness, Great Eastern Takaful will pay on my behalf so I am still covered
  • [At the end of the term] However much your investment fund made during the whole term

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But if my goal is to have an even better medical card, I can get the below i-Great Aman plan with RM500 monthly contributions:

  • Family Takaful for myself – RM150,000 sum covered
  • [i-CIBR] Critical illness coverage for myself – RM150,000 sum covered
  • [i-CABX] Personal accident coverage for myself – RM50,000 sum covered
  • No hospitalisation benefit
  • [i-MX400 + i-MO200k] Medical card with RM400 for daily room and board, with RM2 million annual limit and no lifetime limit
  • [i-PP] Provider coverage – if anything happens to me and I can’t pay the monthly contributions due to total and permanent disability (TPD) or critical illness, Great Eastern Takaful will pay on my behalf so I am still covered
  • [At the end of the term] However much your investment fund made during the whole term

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The ladies said that there is no limit to how much I want to cover myself – I could request for RM10 million sum covered for family takaful if I want to, but of course the contributions will reflect that. 

I also asked who i-Great Aman is NOT suitable for. The team was quite upfront about it. DON’T get i-Great Aman if:

  • Your age makes the cost of monthly contributions too prohibitive (age 40+)
  • You don’t want investment-linked plans. This product is for people who strictly like the idea of a hassle-free and comprehensive protection plan with an investment component. If you prefer, Great Eastern Takaful Berhad also offers term takaful products (i.e. the ‘burn money every month’ kind). You can get it directly from the website too.  

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Last words

Either way, and I hate to admit this, but the best way to learn about takaful (and you have to learn about it) is to talk to the agents. Most of the things I learned about takaful/insurance is from them. Not online, not from books. Agents. 

Once again, thank you so much to Ms. Nurul Sheila Khalib, Ms. Azlina Ideris from the Product Development team and Ms. Tengku Sheila Tengku Azib from the Brand and Marketing Communications at Great Eastern Takaful Berhad for sharing with me and the RoR audience how the takaful plan creation process looks like! Love the culture of transparency that was evident from our conversation. 

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Limited time offer – Meet an agent, Win RM100 

Here’s how to enter a lucky draw to win RM100 just by meeting a Great Eastern Takaful agent. Follow these steps:

1) Go to Great Eastern Takaful’s Find a Takaful Advisor page and select an agent of your liking, OR find a friend or family member who’s already a Great Eastern Takaful agent

2) (If via website) Insert the code #GETSuraya under Pertanyaan/Inquiries (see image below)

3) Meet with the agent and take a wefie together. Post it on social media with the hashtag #GETSuraya. Make sure to set your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profiles to public!

4) I’ll randomly select one winner for the RM100 cash prize by 15 September 2019. Good luck and happy learning about takaful stuff!

i-great aman

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