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​Buying Direct Purchase Insurance
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4 min. read

You can buy insurance directly at a lower cost if you know what you need. Find out about the types of insurance that you can buy directly and how to do so.

Key takeaways
  • If you do not need any financial advice, DPI is the most cost-effective option.
  • It is easy to do-it-yourself with DPI once you know how.
  • Compare insurance products to make more informed decisions.

What is Direct Purchase Insurance (DPI)?

Direct Purchase Insurance (DPI) are term and whole life insurance products that you can buy directly from a life insurance company, without paying a financial advisory (FA) representative.

As DPI is sold without financial advice, no commission is charged, and you pay lower premiums as a result. The broadly standardised features also make it easier for you to compare products when deciding which DPI to purchase.


DPI products can be identified by the prefix "DIRECT" in their product names.

Here's a quick introduction to DPI:

Who it is for

If you know which type of insurance will meet your needs, how much coverage you need and you don't need any financial advice for your purchase, DPI is for you.

You may also use the following tools to work out your needs, financial goals and budget on your own.

  • Insurance Estimator to calculate the amount of life insurance coverage you would need
  • Budget Calculator to check if the premium that you will pay is affordable based on your current income and expenditure

However, if you're unsure about how much coverage you need or what insurance to buy, you should consult an FA representative.

Types of DPI

The two main types of DPI available are:

  • Term life with total and permanent disability (TPD) cover and an optional critical illness (CI) rider
  • Whole life with TPD cover and an optional CI rider

Both types cover death and terminal illness.

Here are the key differences between the two types of DPIs:

Feature Term DPI Whole life DPI
Term Provides protection coverage for a fixed period of time.
Provides life-long protection coverage or up to a specified maturity age (e.g. 99 years old).
What it offers Pure protection with no savings or investment feature.
Protection and an investment component. Premiums are invested to build up cash value in addition to paying for insurance coverage.
Suitable for Insurance coverage for a limited period of time (e.g. duration in which your dependents are financially reliant on you). Life-long insurance coverage with an investment component.
Cost Generally cheaper as there is no investment component. Typically more expensive, as premiums are also invested to build cash value.
Cash value
None. Builds up over time.
Note: There may be no or little cash value if you end the policy in the first few years as most of the premiums would have been used to pay for the initial administrative expenses.

What DPI covers

The features of DPI are broadly standardised for easy comparison. But do read the small print, as not all DPI products are the same across life insurance companies.

Protection amount

You can buy protection of up to $400,000, based on your needs:

Sum assured
  • Term DPI: $50,000 to $400,000 per insurer
  • Whole Life DPI: $50,000 to $200,000 per insurer

The maximum sum assured is aggregated for all Term DPI and Whole Life DPI at $400,000.

Entry age Minimum age: 18 years old
Maximum age: 45, 60 or 65 years old depending on the type of DPI purchased
Amount of TPD benefit

100% of sum assured

Amount of optional CI rider benefit

100% of sum assured (except for illnesses that require angioplasty and other invasive treatments for coronary artery).

For illnesses that require angioplasty and other invasive treatments for coronary artery, the payout will be 10% of the sum assured, subject to a maximum amount of $25,000.

Coverage period

You can choose different coverage periods for a term life DPI. For whole life, consider if you can afford to pay the premiums up to the age you have chosen. Don't forget, you may not be earning any income after retirement.

Period Term DPI Whole Life DPI
Policy coverage period
  • 5 years (renewable)
  • 20 years (non-renewable)
  • Up to age 65 (non-renewable)

TPD and optional CI benefits cover up to age 65; death and terminal illness benefits cover up to age 85.

Up to death of insured or up to a specified maturity age (e.g. 99 years old), except for TPD benefits which will be up to age 65.
Premium paying period Same as policy coverage period. Up to age 70 or age 85.

Which insurers offer DPI

Most life insurance companies offer DPI. You may choose to buy directly from their customer service centres or websites, if available.


How to buy DPI

If you're considering DPI,

1. Do your research

Understand your own insurance needs. Use the budget and insurance coverage calculators to determine if you can afford the insurance policy and how much coverage you need.

2. Compare

Shortlist three to four products. Compare their features and benefits on compareFIRST.sg, an online portal that helps you compare products among different insurers.

You can compare the different types of DPI, as well as between DPI and non-DPI, in terms of:

  • Premiums
  • Features
  • Benefits
  • Cash values
  • Distribution cost

3. Buy directly

Select the product that meets your needs. Buy directly from the customer service centres or websites (if available) of the life insurance company.

Before purchasing any DPI, go through the DPI Fact Sheet and complete the checklist that you will receive from the life insurance company. These documents set out important information that you should consider when buying DPI.

See also: DPI Fact Sheet and checklist 

Last updated on 15 Mar 2019