Life insurance sales hit $1.7b in first half

The life insurance industry saw weighted new business premiums jumping 10 per cent in the first six months of this year over the same period last year.
The life insurance industry saw weighted new business premiums jumping 10 per cent in the first six months of this year over the same period last year.PHOTO: ST FILE

Industry also reports 10% increase in total sum assured for new business to $55.9b

The life insurance industry posted robust sales in the first half of this year, thanks to strong sales of investment-linked plans and a positive attitude towards protection and retirement needs among people here.

Weighted new business premiums jumped 10 per cent to $1.68 billion from the same period last year, according to the Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA).

The sector also recorded a 10 per cent increase in total sum assured for new business to $55.9 billion.

The LIA said this was a positive development in the context of economic uncertainties, an ageing population and a soft labour market.

About 5 per cent or $84 million of the total weighted new premiums in the six months to June 30 came from retirement insurance plans with 10,680 additional policies, which are designed to provide regular payouts to policyholders.

LIA president Patrick Teow said helping Singaporeans to be better prepared for retirement is also a priority. "We see a steady take-up of products designed to provide regular payouts from retirement age. This shows that people are appreciating the importance of preparing ahead for their future years," he said.

Retirement planning is an ongoing concern for both pre-retirees and their children because by 2030, there will only be two working adults supporting one retiree, compared with about five per retiree last year. The younger generation will be shouldering a greater financial burden of supporting the ageing population and ensuring they have enough for milestones such as marriage and setting up their own families.

There was an increase in the number of single and annual premium products in the half year. Weighted single premiums were up by 10 per cent to $547.3 million while weighted annual premiums rose by 11 per cent to $1.13 billion.

Of the single premium new sales, investment-linked products shot up by 41 per cent, boosted by the positive sentiment in the investing environment.

Health insurance premiums totalled $154 million, of which Integrated Shield Plans (IP) premiums and IP riders accounted for 90 per cent or $139 million. The remaining 10 per cent ($15 million) came from other medical plans and riders. There were about 2.92 million lives - around one in two individuals here - insured as at June 30.

Mr Teow added that the industry is working towards narrowing Singapore's protection gap.

The LIA aims to release the results of its Protection Gap Study, which shows the extent of underinsurance, by year end. Customers can also expect to see enhancements in policy, with additional disclosures by July next year.

It also expects to announce the implementation of the long-awaited Health Insurance Task Force recommendations, which are aimed at reining in escalating health costs, later this year or early next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2017, with the headline 'Life insurance sales hit $1.7b in first half'. Print Edition | Subscribe