Singapore’s life insurance industry saw new business, in terms of total weighted premiums, grow 10 per cent for the first quarter this year, reaching $965.8 million from $877.8 million a year ago.
This comes as more consumers took action to secure their financial futures in view of Covid-19’s drastic impact on the global and local markets, said the Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA) yesterday.
“However, with circuit breaker measures, climbing unemployment and an impending recession, the life insurance industry may see the knock-on effect in the coming quarters,” said LIA president Khor Hock Seng.
Sales of annual-premium policies grew 3 per cent year on year, resulting in $672.4 million in total weighted annual premiums for the first quarter, from $653.1 million for the same period last year.
Meanwhile, sales of single-premium products advanced 31 per cent to $293.4 million in weighted single premiums, from $224.7 million a year ago, due to new product launches and associated promotional activities by insurers.
Cash-funded products comprised the bulk of single-premium product sales at 84 per cent, while Central Provident Fund Investment Scheme-included products accounted for the remaining 16 per cent.
The total sum assured in the industry climbed 20 per cent to $34.64 billion in the first quarter, from $28.85 billion a year ago, in tandem with the growth in single-and annual-premium policies.
Sales of retirement policies, which accounted for 11 per cent of total weighted premiums for the quarter, dipped slightly by 1.8 per cent to $107 million, from $109 million a year ago. A total of 11,713 policies were taken up in the quarter, down 4 per cent from 12,213 policies the year before.
Individual health insurance policy sales raked in $101.8 million in terms of total new business premiums for the quarter, up 5 per cent year on year from $97.3 million.
Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) and IP rider premiums accounted for 87 per cent, while 13 per cent came from other medical plans and riders. As of March 31, there were 57,000 more Singaporeans and permanent residents covered by IPs and riders that provide coverage on top of MediShield Life.
Employment in the life insurance sector rose 4 per cent in the quarter due to 359 net new hires compared with a year ago, reaching a workforce of 8,668 employees as of March 31.
Moreover, 14,604 representatives held exclusive contracts with companies operating a tied agency force in the same period.
LIA said the Republic’s life insurance industry is investing significantly in upskilling employees and financial advisers for an increasingly digitalised landscape as the country goes through economic restructuring.
However, with circuit breaker measures, climbing unemployment and an impending recession, the life insurance industry may see the knock-on effect in the coming quarters.
MR KHOR HOCK SENG, president of the Life Insurance Association Singapore, on the impact of Covid-19 on the industry.
Member companies are pursuing initiatives to accelerate the implementation of their digital transformation strategies, including upskilling employees and providing enhanced digital tools to financial advisers to better engage and serve customers remotely.
Sales of annual-premium policies, in total weighted annual premiums, in the first quarter – up 3 per cent year on year from $653.1 million.
Sales of single-premium products, in weighted single premiums, in the quarter – up 31 per cent from $224.7 million a year ago.
Total sum assured in the industry in the quarter, up 20 per cent from $28.85 billion a year ago.
Sales of retirement policies, which accounted for 11 per cent of total weighted premiums for the quarter, down from $109 million a year ago.
THE BUSINESS TIMES