The life insurance industry posted a healthy report card in the first nine months of the year, thanks in part to a strong uptake of annual and single premium plans as well as higher sales of products geared towards retirement needs.
Weighted new business premiums jumped 15 per cent to $3.17 billion from the same period last year, according to the Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA). The sector collected $2.06 billion in weighted annual premiums in the nine months to Sept 30, 12 per cent up on the same period last year.
There was a 23 per cent expansion to $1.11 billion in weighted single premiums.
The LIA attributed the robust growth to the introduction of new and targeted plans, insurers' promotional activities and a more positive economic sentiment.
In the area of weighted single premiums, single premium participating policies (such as whole life plans) and non-participating products (like term plans) comprised 72 per cent of sales while single premium investment-linked products accounted for 28 per cent.
On top of a guaranteed benefit, participating policies offer a share in the profits of the insurance company's participating fund - non-guaranteed benefits - paid in the form of bonuses or cash dividends.
LIA president Patrick Teow said the strong growth in new life insurance sales so far means the year will likely end on a positive note.
"The forecast for the global economic outlook warns of negative impact kicking in from protectionist measures and counter-measures," he noted.
"However, life insurance is a resilient industry and the value of having financial protection offered by our products during challenging times becomes better appreciated by individuals."
By policy count, the industry posted a 36 per cent increase in the sale of retirement policies designed to provide regular payouts to policyholders in their golden years. There were 24,610 retirement policies purchased in the first nine months of the year, against the 18,054 bought over the same period last year.
New business premiums for individual health insurance amounted to $318.7 million for the first three quarters, of which Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) and IP rider premiums accounted for 92 per cent ($292.2 million). The remaining 8 per cent ($26.5 million) came from other medical plans and riders.
The sale increases mean 70,000 more Singaporeans and permanent residents are now covered by IPs, lifting the overall total to 2.7 million lives, or approximately 68 per cent of Singapore residents. IPs offer cover that is over and above the MediShield Life component.
There was also a 10 per cent increase in total sum assured for new business to $101.8 billion.
The LIA plans to provide details of industry-wide initiatives aimed at bridging the protection gap following a recent study.
This found that economically active individuals here have an approximate 40 per cent mortality and critical illness gap totalling around $893 billion.
Mr Teow said: "We aim to develop more targeted public programmes so that we can continue to narrow the under-insurance gap and help Singaporeans adequately protect their quality of life and that of their loved ones."