With savings accounts interest rates dipping, some insurers have launched short-term endowment plans as an alternative way to grow your savings. Mid to long-term endowment plans on the other hand, can be a tool to help you save up for significant milestones.
Traditionally, endowment plans are a savings/insurance hybrid product, typically recommended as a way to save for your child’s education, your retirement, or some other fixed milestone. Recently, there has been a new crop of short-term endowment plans. Instead of taking a decade or more to reach maturity, these endowment plans mature in just two to six years.
Here’s a look at these two different types of endowment plans available.
Best short term endowment plans
|Endowment plan||Min. single premium||Policy term||Returns|
|GREAT SP Series 3||$10,000||3 years||1.55% p.a. (guaranteed)|
|DBS SavvyEndowment 5||$5,000||3 years||Up to 2.47% p.a.|
|LIC Wealth Plus 6||$20,000 (up to $200,000)||5 years||$20,000 to $45,000: 1.2% p.a. (guaranteed)|
$50,000 to $200,000: 1.25% p.a. (guaranteed)
|Manulife Goal 7||$10,000||3 years||1.39% p.a. (guaranteed)|
|NTUC Income Gro Capital Ease|
(June 2020 tranche — Fully subscribed. You can indicate your interest to get notified on the latest update.)
|$5,000 (online) / $20,000 (via agent)||2 years||1.85% p.a. (guaranteed)|
- GREAT SP Series 3
- DBS SavvyEndowment 5
- LIC Wealth Plus 6
- Manulife Goal 7
- NTUC Income Gro Capital Ease (fully subscribed)
Best mid/long term endowment plans
|Endowment plan||Premium term||Policy term||Returns (per annum)||Capital guaranteed (upon maturity)?|
|Aviva MySavingsPlan||10 to 25 years||10 to 25 years||-Up to 4.75% p.a.non-guaranteed returns||Yes|
|AXA EarlySaver Plus||5 or 10 years||10 to 25 years||– Up to 4.75% p.a. non-guaranteed returns|
– Guaranteed return of up to 1.57% p.a.
– Guaranteed cash payouts in the last 3 policy years.
|Great Eastern Flexi Cashback||5 to 25 years||Up to 25 years||– Up to 4.75% p.a. non-guaranteed returns|
– Accumulation interest rate at 3% p.a (non-guaranteed)
– High guaranteed yearly cash payouts
– Start receiving cash payouts yearly from the end of the 2nd policy year
|PRUFlexicash||15, 20 or 25 years||15, 20 or 25 years||– 4.75% p.a. non-guaranteed returns|
– Receive a Yearly Cash Benefit after the 2nd policy anniversary and use it as you wish
|Tokio Marine Nest Egg (GIO Cashback)||5, 10, 15 or 20 years||10, 15, 20 or 25 years||– Up to 3.8% p.a. non-guaranteed returns|
– Enjoy guaranteed yearly payouts from the 2nd policy anniversary for either 8 or 10 years
– Flexibility to withdraw yearly cash benefit or reinvest to earn interest
- Aviva MySavingsPlan
- AXA EarlySaver Plus
- Great Eastern Flexi Cashback
- Tokio Marine Nest Egg (GIO Cashback)
Short-term endowment plans
In light of low bank interest rates, even newbies to finance are getting curious about short-term endowment products. With decent returns, short commitment periods and simple mechanics, short-term endowment plans are indeed a viable alternative to savings accounts or fixed deposits.
Although provided by insurers, endowment plans are fundamentally savings plans to help you hit a target amount at a later date (e.g. your nest egg). After paying the premium, you wait for the funds to mature, then cash out a larger amount than you’ve put in.
Sounds simple enough, but the terminology around endowment plans can be confusing to those new to insurance. Let’s break them down.
Premium: This is the amount you pay for (put into) your endowment plan. It can either be a single premium (one-time lump sum payment) or staggered over several months or years. Single premiums are typical of short-term endowment plans.
Policy term: The time it takes for the endowment plan to mature. Conventional plans can stretch over 10 years, 15 years, 20 years or even up to a fixed age (e.g. 75 years old). But short-term endowment plans have a maturity period of two to six years. Note that you may not get the guaranteed returns or even your capital if you terminate your endowment plan early.
Capital guaranteed upon maturity: Some endowment plans are ‘capital guaranteed’ upon maturity. This means that, when you reach the end of the policy term, you will definitely get back at least the money you initially put in. However, there is no such guarantee if you terminate your plan before the end of the policy term.
Maturity benefit: Expressed as an annual percentage (e.g. 2% p.a.), this is how much return you will get on your initial investment upon the end of the term. Some endowment plans have only guaranteed returns, while other types may break down the returns into guaranteed and non-guaranteed components.
Participating or non-participating: Endowment plans typically involve the insurer putting your premiums into a ‘participating’ fund, akin to an investment done on your behalf (although you do not get to select the investment portfolio). If the fund performs well, a participating policy allows you to get a share of the profits (the non-guaranteed return), whereas you do not get anything above the guaranteed return for a non-participating policy.
Insurance coverage: A small portion of the money you put into an endowment plan goes into insurance coverage. For short-term endowment plans, this is quite minimal. For example, you might get insured 101% or 105% of the premium paid in the case of death or total permanent disability.
Tranches: Endowment plans, especially short-term and/or single premium plans, are not available forever. They are instead issued in ‘tranches’, similar to Singapore Savings Bonds issues. Each tranche contains a limited number of policies. Tranches with attractive returns close quickly, and you’ll have to wait for the next if you miss it.
Best short-term endowment plans in Singapore
If you have a lump sum of money you wish to grow in the short term, but do not want to take on the risk of investing it, here are five short-term endowment plans to consider.
GREAT SP Series 3
Offered by Great Eastern, the GREAT SP Series 3 is a short term endowment plan that guarantees 1.55% returns per annum — a great alternative to fixed deposits.
Minimum premium: $10,000. Unlike cash management accounts that allow you to store your cash with smaller amounts, you’ll require $10,000 to apply for this Great Eastern endowment plan.
Policy term: Three years. It has a death benefit of 105% of the premium, or the surrender value of the policy, whichever is higher.
Maturity benefit: GREAT SP Series 3 is a non-participating endowment plan that offers guaranteed returns of 1.55% p.a. upon maturity.
There are two options to take with the GREAT SP Series 3. Based on a single premium of $100,000, here’s what you would receive with this endowment plan.
Paid-out option: Total guaranteed payout of $104,650
Accumulation option: Total Illustrated Payout of up to $104,790
Current tranche: The current tranche is open. Do note that this is a limited tranche offer, so act fast!
DBS SavvyEndowment 5
Another household name offering a short-term endowment plan is DBS (the insurance policy is underwritten by Manulife).
Minimum premium: $5,000. You can pay directly from your DBS/POSB bank account or your DBS SRS account.
Policy term: Three years. It has a basic death benefit of 101% of the premium.
Maturity benefit: DBS SavvyEndowment 5 is a participating endowment plan, so the returns are split into a small guaranteed component and a non-guaranteed portion that depends on fund performance.
If you bought a $10,000 premium, at the end of the policy term, you can cash out anything from $10,136 (guaranteed) to $10,247. Your capital is guaranteed at the end of the policy term.
Current tranche: The current tranche is open. You need to be a DBS/POSB customer to apply. Simply log in to digibank and your details will be pre-filled for a hassle-free application.
LIC Wealth Plus 6
LIC also has another endowment plan that gives higher returns, albeit with a slightly longer policy term of five years, compared to the LIC Secure Growth 2 above with a policy term of 3 years.
Minimum premium: $20,000 single premium (up to $200,000). Premiums of more than $50,000 enjoy higher returns. Premiums have to be paid using cheque payment or cashiers order only.
Policy term: Five years. In the unfortunate event of death, you will the single premium is returned with guaranteed addition of the simple interest of 1.20% p.a. or 1.25% p.a. (depending on the premium size) each year from policy commencement to the date of death. The same benefit applies for total permanent disability if you are diagnosed before age 65.
Maturity benefit: Your maturity benefit depends on the quantum of your premium. You enjoy a guaranteed simple interest rate of 1.2% p.a. for single premium from $20,000 – $45,000. This simple interest rate is increased to 1.25% p.a. when you have single premiums from $200,000 – $150,000.
Current tranche: The LIC Wealth Plus 6 is currently open for applications. You need to download an application form on LIC’s website, fill it out and mail it to LIC.
Manulife Goal 7
Manulife’s short-term endowment plan is called Manulife Goal 7. Although the underlying insurer is the same, this is an entirely distinct product from the DBS SavvyEndowment 5 plan covered above.
Minimum premium: Single premium of $10,000, payable via cash or SRS.
Policy term: Three years. During this term, you are insured 101% of the premium in the event of your death. During the policy term, you have the option to withdraw fixed yearly income or leave it to accumulate for more interest.
Maturity benefit: Apart from the guaranteed capital return, you also enjoy fixed yearly income of 1.39% of the single premium payable at the end of each policy year, for the first 2 policy years. This adds up to a total of 2.78% over 2 years. Holding your plan till maturity, without withdrawing the fixed yearly income will earn you a guaranteed 1.39% p.a. and this can go up to 4.23% p.a.
For example, if you bought a $50,000 policy and did not withdraw any annual payment, you can expect to cash out anything from $51,421 (guaranteed) up to $52,116 at the end of three years. Your capital is guaranteed only at the end of the policy term.
Current tranche: This Manulife endowment plan is currently open. However, there is no online application available; you need to speak to a financial consultant or apply at a bank branch.
NTUC Income Gro Capital Ease — June 2020 (Fully subscribed)
NTUC Income Gro Capital Ease is a single premium endowment plan with a short commitment period of just two years.
Here’s what was offered in the previous June 2020 tranche.
Minimum premium: $5,000, which you can pay via eNets or PayNow. You can also use your Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) funds. If you buy this through a financial advisor, the minimum is $20,000 instead.
Policy term: Two years. During this term, you are covered for death or total permanent disability (TPD) during this time. Should this happen in the first year, the payout is 100% of the premium; in the second year, the payout is 105%.
Maturity benefit: After two years, the insurance coverage expires and you can cash out the endowment plan at 1.85% p.a. That works out to a return of 3.73% total for the two years. If you bought a $10,000 premium, that means you’ll collect $10,373 at the end of the policy term.
Your capital is guaranteed at the end of the two-year policy term. Note that this is a non-participating endowment plan, so there are only guaranteed returns. There are no non-guaranteed returns on top of the 1.85% p.a.
June 2020 tranche: Online applications for this tranche has ceased. You can still sign up for the NTUC Income Gro Capital Ease at physical Income branches on a first come, first served basis.
Note: This endowment plan is fully subscribed to. However, you can indicate your interest to get notified on the latest update. Keep in mind that the guaranteed returns and policy term may differ from tranche to tranche.
Should you get a short-term endowment plan?
In today’s climate, the options for growing your money risk-free are extremely limited. With endowment plans, your capital is guaranteed, the returns beat that of banks, and you also get a little bit of insurance coverage as a bonus.
But, however short the policy term, an endowment plan is still a commitment. Only park cash that you absolutely will not need in the next two or three years here. Should you need to terminate your policy early, you may lose money.
There are also trade-offs to locking up your funds. If interest rates were to rise within the next few years, you might not be able to take advantage of a good savings or fixed deposit promotion since your cash is parked in the endowment plan.
If you are comfortable with the commitment, then by all means apply for the endowment plan of your choice. Do act decisively though, as tranches are limited.
What you need to know about mid/ long-term endowment plans
- Regular premiums: You contribute regular premiums towards the endowment plan for the entire premium term.
- Interest rates/returns: Interest rates are an indication of how much you can expect at the end of the policy term. However, the returns are not guaranteed and this means that the actual benefits payable will vary based on the market conditions and future performance of the participating fund.
- Long term commitment: Unlike short-term endowment plans that mature in 2 to 3 years, long-term endowment plans can have a policy term that ranges between 10 to 25 years.
- Early termination: Terminating the policy before it matures could be costly as the surrender value, if any, could be zero or less than the total premiums paid.
Best mid/long-term endowment plans in Singapore
Here’s a look at five of the best mid/long-term endowment plans available.
Aviva MySavingsPlan offers a great flexibility with their premium and policy term, while guaranteeing 100% of your capital if you hold the policy till maturity.
- Interest rate: Up to 4.75% p.a. non-guaranteed returns
- Premium term: 10 to 25 years
- Policy term: 10 to 25 years
- Withdrawal/payouts: Get 100% capital guaranteed when you hold the plan till maturity, with no early cash withdrawal option.
What this plan is good for: This plan offers a wide range of both premium and policy terms, from 10 to 25 years. It also guarantees that your capital will be returned 100% in the form of a lump sum payout when you hold the policy till maturity. You also stand to earn potential bonuses upon maturity, though this is not guaranteed. Application for this policy is hassle-free, with no medical check-ups required.
What are the downsides to this plan: The maturity bonuses are not guaranteed and there is no option for you to withdraw the cash early. Riders available are also limited, not covering critical illness, although a cancer premium waiver is available.
AXA Early Saver Plus
AXA Early Saver Plus is an endowment plan that provides guaranteed returns by giving cash payouts in the last three policy years.
- Interest rate: 4.75% p.a. non-guaranteed interest and up to 1.57%* p.a. guaranteed returns in the form of cash payouts in the last 3 policy years
- Premium term: 5 or 10 years
- Policy term: 10 to 25 years
- Withdrawal/payouts: Get guaranteed cash payouts in the last three policy years. You also have the option to reinvest the 1st and 2nd payouts, to receive the accumulated benefit upon maturity.
* Based on 5 year Premium Payment Term, 25 years Policy Term and a sum assured of $50,000.
What this plan is good for: The AXA Early Saver Plus offers one of the highest guaranteed returns of up to 1.57% p.a., although this is only paid out in the last three policy years. Another plus point is the additional payouts you receive to cover your outpatient medical expenses, up to $200 per claim, with a cap of two events per policy.
You can also get this plan without having to undergo any medical examinations and all applications for the basic plan will be accepted. Lastly, this policy features coverage against death, total permanent disability, and terminal illness. A minimum payout of 101% of the total premiums invested is guaranteed. An additional 50% will be paid out should the death be due to an accident.
What are the downsides to this plan: Your capital is not guaranteed and there is no option for you to withdraw the cash early. AXA also has a maximum entry age of 60 years old. Compared to the other insurance providers on this list of long-term endowment plans, AXA Early Saver Plus offers shorter premium terms of 5 or 10 years only, without the option of longer premium terms such as 20 years.
Great Eastern Flexi Cashback
Great Eastern’s Flexi Cashback offers a wide range of premium terms and guarantees your capital upon maturity for limited-pay plans. Limited-pay refers to paying for a limited number of years within the policy term.
- Interest rate: 4.75% p.a. non-guaranteed returns and accumulation interest rate at 3% p.a.
- Premium term: 5 to 25 years
- Policy term: While the minimum and maximum policy term is not provided on the website, traditional endowment plans typically have policy terms a little longer than their premium terms
- Withdrawal/payouts: Guaranteed yearly cash payouts after 2nd policy year
What this plan is good for: What stands out for this plan is the high guaranteed yearly cash payout, which is 6% of the sum assured. You can also start withdrawing cash payouts from the 2nd policy year or choose to re-deposit it into your plan to accumulate your wealth. Your capital is also guaranteed upon maturity.
With premium payment terms starting from a short five years to a longer commitment of 25 years, Great Eastern Flexi Cashback allows you to select a premium term that best suits your needs. This plan also does not require medical underwriting.
Lastly, this plan features coverage against death, total and permanent disability, and terminal illness. In the event of death, either 105% of the total standard yearly premiums minus total survival benefits paid or the guaranteed surrender value will be paid out. Coverage for presumptive total and permanent disability is valid for the whole policy terms. For other forms of total and permanent disability, coverage is valid till age 65.
What are the downsides to this plan: Capital guaranteed upon maturity is only for limited-pay plans and not full-pay plans. Riders for enhanced coverage are limited to two, Payer Benefit or Premium Waiver rider.
PRUFlexicash is a long-term insurance savings plan that provides flexibility by offering yearly cash benefits.
- Interest rate: 4.75% p.a. non -guaranteed interest
- Premium term: 15, 20 or 25 years
- Policy term: 15, 20 or 25 years and receive your maturity benefit in one lump sum payout once your policy matures.
- Withdrawal/payouts: You can opt to receive yearly cash payout after 2nd policy anniversary. This yearly cash benefit is a payout of 5% of the sum assured.
What this plan is good for: This plan provides you with the option of receiving and using the yearly cash benefit after the second policy year. This could come in handy if you have an emergency and require cash, or if you would like to use the payout to cover the cost of your family holiday.
Alternatively, you can choose defer receiving the yearly cash benefit, letting it accumulate for an annual interest. Although the interest is non-guaranteed, you can enjoy a non-guaranteed 3% p.a. for the accumulated yearly cash benefit.
You can also buy a new plan of up to 25% of the original sum assured or $150,000, whichever is lower, without the need for a medical examination. This can be exercised twice in the lifetime of the Life Assured.
Lastly, this plan features coverage against death, total permanent disability, and terminal illness. Should these occur, a lump sum of 100% of the sum assured and any accumulated bonuses will be paid out. However, you cannot make a claim for both terminal illness and total permanent disability. Additionally, coverage for terminal illness and total permanent disability is valid only for policyholders below 64 years old.
What are the downsides to this plan: The lowest premium term and policy term for this endowment plan is 15 years, making this endowment plan a long-term commitment. This plan also requires medical underwriting and your capital is not guaranteed.
Tokio Marine Nest Egg (GIO Cashback)
The Tokio Marine Nest Egg (GIO Cashback) is an endowment plan that offers guaranteed acceptance and guaranteed capital if held to maturity.
- Interest rate: Up to 3.8% p.a. non-guaranteed returns
- Premium term: 5, 10, 15 or 20 years
- Policy term: 10, 15, 20 or 25 years
- Withdrawal/payouts: Flexibility to withdraw the guaranteed yearly payouts from the 2nd policy year for either 8 or 10 years, or reinvest to earn interest. You also enjoy 100% capital guaranteed when you hold the plan till maturity.
What this plan is good for: This plan offers a wide range of premium payment terms, including a short five-year premium term. While providing guaranteed yearly cash benefits from the 2nd policy year, it also provides some form of liquidity, giving you the option to withdraw this yearly cash benefit or reinvest it to earn interest.
Your capital is also guaranteed upon policy maturity, ensuring that every dollar you contribute as premiums will be returned. You will also be able to purchase this plan without requiring any medical underwriting.
Lastly, this plan features coverage against death. In the event that this occurs, a lump sum of 105% of the total annual premiums paid, accumulated reversionary bonuses, and any accumulated guaranteed yearly cash benefits plus interest will be paid out.
What are the downsides to this plan: Addition of riders such as Cancer Waiver Rider or (Enhanced) Payer Benefit Rider may require you to undergo full underwriting.
If you are looking for cancer insurance, you can also check out these five best cancer insurance plans in Singapore.
Should you get a mid/long-term endowment plan?
A long-term endowment plan can be an option for those that are looking to set aside money for their child’s education, or to prepare for their retirement. These endowment plans are also great for those that require discipline to help them save money for the future.
However, do keep in mind that long-term endowment plans require years of commitment, regularly paying the premiums for the entire premium term. You could lose some of your capital should you choose to terminate the policy before maturity.
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