SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Singapore's life insurance industry saw a 2 per cent dip in weighted new business premiums to $1.21 billion in the first quarter of 2022, from $1.23 billion in the year-ago period.
This came as sales of annual premium products dropped 20 per cent to $555.1 million, from $692.8 million in the year-ago period, according to data from the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA) released on Thursday (May 12).
However, single-premium products grew 21 per cent year on year to $655.4 million from $541.6 million. Single-premium par and non-par products comprised 88 per cent of all single-premium purchases, while 12 per cent was from single-premium linked products.
"As the country steadily emerges from the pandemic's headwinds, life insurers have noted the sustained popularity of single-premium products for their relatively attractive yields," said LIA president Khor Hock Seng.
LIA also noted that the number of new policies purchased online without financial advisory rose sharply to 214,372 in the first quarter of 2022 compared with 88,565 in the first quarter of 2021. Micro-insurance products sold by an insurer contributed to the large increase in policy count observed.
These online purchases brought in $27 million in weighted premiums, accounting for 2 per cent of the total weighted premiums for the first quarter of 2022.
Integrated Shield Plans (IPs), which provide coverage on top of MediShield Life, remained a major health insurance product in the quarter, LIA noted. It said that 40,000 more Singaporeans and permanent residents were covered by IPs as at March 31, 2022.
Total new business premiums for individual health insurance for the first quarter of 2022 amounted to $82.9 million. IPs and IP rider premiums accounted for 83 per cent of these premiums, with the remaining 17 per cent coming from other medical plans and riders.
Between Jan 1 and March 31, the life insurance industry paid out $2.29 billion in claims, a majority of which was for policies that matured, amounting to $1.92 billion. The remaining $364 million was for death, critical illness or disability claims.
Employment in the life industry remained stable with 165 new hires, compared with the corresponding period a year ago. This brings the Singapore life insurance industry's workforce to 8,873 employees as at March 31, 2022.
Some 14,540 representatives held exclusive contracts with companies that operate a tied-agency force during this period, LIA said.