Singapore life insurance sales rise 10% in Q1; may take Covid-19 hit rest of year

Total sum assured in the industry climbed 20 per cent to $34.64 billion in Q1, from $28.85 billion a year ago. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Singapore's life insurance industry saw new business, in terms of total weighted premiums, grow 10 per cent to $965.8 million for the first quarter from January to March 2020, from $877.8 million a year ago.

This comes as more consumers took action to secure their financial future in view of Covid-19's drastic impact on the global and local markets, said the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA) on Friday.

"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 CPF Investment Scheme-included products comprised 16 per cent.

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 at March 31, there were 57,000 more Singaporeans and permanent residents covered by IPs and riders which 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 at March 31.

Moreover, 14,604 representatives held exclusive contracts with companies operating a tied agency force in the same period.

LIA Singapore 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.

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.

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