SM Advantage Card and Philam Accident Insurance Program

James Ryan Jonas

Today I received an email from SM Advantage Card (SMAC) informing me that I’ve been automatically enrolled into the Philam Personal Accident insurance Program.

The email states:

We are pleased to inform you that you have qualified, and have been enrolled, into the SM Advantage – Philam Personal Accident Insurance Program. Your coverage started last 08/15/07 and will end on 08/15/08. As token payment for this special benefit, we have deducted 20 points from your SM Advantage Card balance.
For only 20 points, the program provides qualified members with the following benefits:

  • Php 100,000 personal accident insurance coverage, 24 hours a day for 365 days, anywhere in the world.
  • Up to a maximum of Php 100,000 for permanent disability due to accident.
  • Also covers members while traveling on public/private transportation by air, sea and land (except motorcycle).
  • Death due to drowning, dog bites, snake bites, murder and assault also covered.
  • Accidental Burial Expense Reimbursement

If you feel that this Program is not for you, and that you would rather not be covered, you may Opt-out through either of the following:

  • by calling the Philam Insurance Hotline at (02) 528-5202, or
  • by filling up an Opt-out form at Costumer Service Counter of any SM Department Store, SM Hypermarket and SM Supermarket.

Your 20 points will be promptly credited back to your account should you choose to Opt-out from this Program.
For questions regarding your SM Advantage – Philam Personal Accident Insurance Program you may call the Philam Insurance Hotline at (02) 528-5202 or log-on to

The use of negative confirmation — that is, “opt out if you don’t want it” instead of the positive confirmation (“enroll if you want to”) — is no doubt a cunning marketing strategy on SM’s part. For me, this is nothing but a direct attempt to force the Philam Accident Insurance Program down SM Advantage Card members’ throats and an indirect way of reducing SMAC points.
If you do not see it yet, this insurance product is not really for free. Since we spent P4,000 to get 20 SMAC points (since every P200 spent in SM is equivalent to 1 SM Advantage point), we technically paid P4,000 to get that unsolicited Philam insurance.
It is a valuable benefit indeed, especially to those without insurance, but why did coverage start in August 15 last year and I was informed only 9 months later — when there are only 3 remaining months in my insurance coverage?
What if I figured in an accident, say, in August 16 last year? I was already covered then by insurance but how would my beneficiaries get anything if they and I myself didn’t know I was insured?
Nice try, but I’m not falling for it.
Since I already have a life insurance policy with Ayala Life, I don’t think I need this Philam Accident Insurance anymore. So first thing in the morning tomorrow, I’ll call SM Advantage to opt out of this promotion.
If you were similarly entered into this Program, think twice if you really want to join. As for me, I think I can better spend my 20 SM Advantage points somewhere else.

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.