Insurance body working on easier claim process

One way is standardising claim forms; single premium products boost sector's Q4 growth

The association that represents life insurers is exploring ways to bring member firms together to create a seamless platform to make it easier for policyholders to submit claims.

The Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA) yesterday said it will hold a workshop with member firms to brainstorm issues facing the industry and find ways to improve services.

LIA president Patrick Teow noted that one area in focus is to create standardised claim forms to save the hassle of policyholders having to deal with multiple types of forms from different companies.

The strategy comes as the insurance sector looks back at a strong performance in 2017.

LIA Singapore announced that the industry posted a 40 per cent increase from 2016 in total weighted new business premiums to $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter last year, boosted by better sales of its single premium products.

Weighted single premiums rose 91 per cent to $563.2 million in the three months to Dec 31, against the same period a year earlier, driven by the stronger performance of linked and non-linked plans. Weighted annual premiums in the quarter rose 18 per cent to $777.3 million.

Total weighted new business premiums for the full year rose 24 per cent to $4.1 billion. This was on the back of a 43 per cent increase in weighted single premiums to $1.5 billion, with a 75 per cent rise in linked plans and a 34 per cent advance in non-linked plans.

Weighted annual premiums for the full year rose 16 per cent to $2.6 billion.

The total sum insured for new business was up 12 per cent in the full year to $130.5 billion.

Health insurance premiums came in at $374 million, of which 91 per cent comprised Integrated Shield Plan (IP) premiums and IP riders. The remaining 9 per cent came from other medical plans and riders.

The LIA noted that 2.66 million lives - or about three in four Singaporeans - had an IP as of Dec 31.

Retirement planning has become a major growth area.

There was a 27 per cent rise from the previous year in the uptake of about 26,000 policies that provide regular payouts to policyholders during their golden years. About 5 per cent of premiums in the fourth quarter last year went to retirement planning.

Claim inflation is being addressed in part by recommendations from the Health Insurance Task Force that is targeting healthcare costs.

Mr Teow said insurers are working very closely with the Ministry of Health to manage this issue.

"Our intention is that everybody has affordable healthcare."

He noted that the Protection Gap Study 2017, which focuses on under-insurance, is due to be out next month.

"As an association, we feel that we shouldn't just be giving the results of the Protection Gap Study," Mr Teow added.

"We want to take one more step to ensure that there's a guiding road map in telling people how they should go about handing their protection gap."

Increase from 2016 in total weighted new business premiums to $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter last year. Jump in weighted single premiums in the three months to Dec 31, compared with the same period a year earlier.


Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2018, with the headline 'Insurance body working on easier claim process'. Print Edition | Subscribe