New life insurance sales dip 4% amid subdued economic growth

Market volatility and Singapore's subdued economic growth weighed on insurance sales in the first nine months of the year.

New business, in terms of total weighted premiums, in the life insurance industry declined by 4 per cent to $3 billion, compared with the same period last year.

The weaker showing is in line with Singapore's economic performance, the Life Insurance Association (LIA) said yesterday.

Sales of annual-premium policies grew 4 per cent, amounting to $2.1 billion in total weighted annual premiums for the first nine months.

This was mainly thanks to an increased uptake of participating plans, the LIA noted.

However, sales of single-premium products continued to drop, with weighted single premiums declining 20 per cent year on year to $889.2 million. About 10 per cent came from CPF Investment Scheme-included products, while cash-funded products accounted for 90 per cent.

LIA president Khor Hock Seng said: "The ongoing economic volatility has inevitably impacted the first three quarters' performance for the life insurance industry."

Total sum assured inched up 1 per cent or about $1.3 billion year on year, amounting to $103.1 billion for the first nine months.

Meanwhile, there was a 57 per cent year-on-year surge in the uptake of retirement policies, which provide regular payout, with 38,622 policies bought during the nine months, up 14,012 on a year earlier.

Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) remained a significant component for health cover. There were 53,000 more Singaporeans and permanent residents covered by IPs and riders, which provide coverage on top of MediShield Life, as of Sept 30, compared with last year.

New business premiums for individual health insurance totalled $342.3 million for the first nine months of this year. IPs and IP rider premiums made up 90 per cent of this, while 10 per cent comprised other medical plans and riders.

The life insurance industry continued to expand its workforce, with employment up 3.6 per cent to reach a headcount of 8,444 as of Sept 30. Recruitment was focused on data analytics, cyber security and insurance business functions as life insurers pursued digital innovation, said the LIA.

It added that it will soon launch a digital life insurance calculator to help consumers better understand their financial protection needs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2019, with the headline 'New life insurance sales dip 4% amid subdued economic growth'. Print Edition | Subscribe