There was a time when life insurance was something only the higher income group could afford. Insurance agents were better off selling policies that yield higher premiums and coverage.

Many low and middle-income workers found themselves not sufficiently insured, if at all, and any mishap would financially cripple them and their families.

Income logo Full w tag on white

To meet the social need to provide affordable insurance for workers in Singapore, NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative was set up in 1970. It answered the call of the late Dr Goh Keng Swee made at the Modernisation Seminar in 1969.

By getting the workers to take out life insurance policies at a cost that they could afford, NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative helps alleviate hardship at times of unexpected events and build up savings for old age.

Sg Coop Story Ntuc Income 2When it was launched on 20 November 1970 at the Victoria Memorial Hall, it had secured a paid-up capital of $1.2 million. Mr Devan Nair, Singapore’s third president and first secretary-general of the NTUC, announced that NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative had already sold policies worth more than $1 million which was a world record since no other insurance company had ever secured such a volume business on its first day of operations. Its stunning success was attributed to what Mr Devan Nair termed ‘sound principles and public confidence’.

He said: “We should make no mistake. The success of NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative is the result of a pragmatic alliance between co-operative principles on the one hand, and the general public confidence generated by a sound management system and structure on the other.”

When NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative celebrated its second anniversary, it was already “internationally acknowledged to be the most uniquely successful co-operative insurance society to have taken shape anywhere in the developing world”, the late Devan Nair pointed out.

The achievement would not be possible if the “NTUC had gone about like starry-eyed idealists, swearing by co-operative principles but without understanding of the requirements of a sound management, working within a system of reliable organs of control”.

sg coop story ntuc income 1

By putting people before profits, NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative works on providing insurance plans that benefit Singaporeans regardless of their financial standing till today.

Quick Facts

  • NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative was the first co-operative to be set up by NTUC following the resolutions passed at the Modernisation Seminar in 1969.

  • It was registered on 29 May 1970.

  • The objectives of Income are:
    • to promote and popularise co-operative insurance and encourage thrift, cooperation, mutual saving and self-help among members;
    • provide policy benefits at the cheapest possible cost subject only to sound actuarial theory and practice; and
    • promote and assist in promoting a wider Co-operative Commonwealth in Singapore in which the majority of the working population would have a stake and from which they would derive concrete social and financial benefits.

Source: The Singapore Co-operative Story: 1925 – 2015 published by the Singapore National Co-operative Federation, 2015



Other articles from Co-operator Newsletter, January 2019 Issue: