Life insurance industry sees 20% rise in new business in first half of 2018

There was a slight shift of consumers' interest away from participating policies to both investment-linked insurance products (ILPs) and non-participating products like term policies.
There was a slight shift of consumers' interest away from participating policies to both investment-linked insurance products (ILPs) and non-participating products like term policies. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The life insurance industry posted a robust performance in the first half of this year, boosted by strong sales of investment-linked plans and a positive attitude towards protection and retirement needs.

Weighted new business premiums jumped 20 per cent to $2.02 billion from the same period in 2017, according to a half-yearly review by the Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA) out on Monday (Aug 13).

There was a slight shift of consumers' interest away from participating policies, such as whole life plans, to both investment-linked insurance products (ILPs) and non-participating products like term policies. LIA attributed this to improving market performance and economic conditions which typically drive sales of ILPs, as well as insurers' new product launches of non-participating products.

On top of a guaranteed benefit, participating insurance policies provide a share in the profits of the insurance company's participating fund - non-guaranteed benefits - paid in the form of bonuses or cash dividends.

The sector also recorded a 19 per cent increase in total sum assured for new business to $66.28 billion.

More individuals took action to provide for their golden years in the first half of this year. A total of 14,505 retirement insurance policies - which are designed to provide regular payouts to policyholders - were sold.

This translates to about $131 million of total weighted new premiums collected from such plans, up 35 per cent from the same period last year.

LIA president Patrick Teow said helping Singaporeans to be better prepared for retirement is an industry priority, besides helping them to narrow the protection gaps.

Earlier this year, LIA released results of its protection gap survey which showed more can be done to ensure that individuals have sufficient insurance protection against death and critical illness.

Mr Teow said: "Later this year, we'll be announcing key actions that the industry will take to help individuals within segments of the community enhance the adequacy of their protection and financial provision."

There was an increase in uptake across both single and annual premium plans. During the first half of the year, $1.34 billion in weighted annual premiums were collected, an 18 per cent growth from the same period last year.

For single premium plans, the industry recorded a 24 per cent expansion amounting to $677.7 million in weighted single premiums.

In the same period, new business premiums for individual health policies amounted to $205.9 million, of which Integrated Shield Plans (IP) and IP rider premiums accounted for 91 per cent ($188.2 million) with the balance coming from other medical plans and riders. There were about 2.99 million lives insured by individual health insurance, as at June 30.

lornatan@sph.com.sg