The Singaporean general insurance sector recorded mostly flat growth for 2020, with a 0.2% decrease in gross written premium to SG$4.09 billion, according to the General Insurance Association (GIA) of Singapore.
The sector also recorded an underwriting profit of SG$237.3 million for 2020, compared to an underwriting loss of SG$28 million the previous year.
According to the association’s annual report, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt greatly in the motor and travel segments. Both saw a decrease in claims, especially during the circuit breaker period, due to lower volume of road and air travel.
With restrictions having eased in the second half of the year, the sector is expected to observe a gradual return to pre-pandemic performance further into 2021. According to the GIA, the number of accident reports made monthly has now exceeded 80% of December 2019 levels.
Motor insurance made up the largest share of the general insurance market with 27.5%. This was followed by health (16.9%), property (14.5%), employer’s liability (9.3%) and marine hull (4.5%).
A survey conducted by the GIA on a representative sample of 1,000 respondents showed several new areas general insurers should address. Among the unmet needs sought by respondents, usage-based insurance (42%) and COVID-19 cover (41%) emerged as the top two. Over a quarter of respondents (28%) said that the hospital cash insurance will be the most important benefit within the next 12 months.
Despite the trend of digitalisation in the industry, accelerated by the need for physical distancing to prevent spread of the virus, most respondents still prefer to purchase general insurance through insurance agents and brokers, suggesting a preference for human touch for more complex needs, the GIA said.
Among the association’s key initiatives for 2020 were those aimed at helping the economy recover. The GIA partnered with the Changi Airport Group (CAG) and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to facilitate the resumption of travel to Singapore, helping it maintain its position as an air-transport and business hub. According to the GIA, its members are steadily developing timely insurance products designed for both outbound and inbound travellers. To support its customers encountering financial hardship, the association has also rolled out flexible premium instalment payment plans, which have been extended until December 31.
“In our fight against COVID-19, the crisis has reminded us of the power of collaboration in finding solutions to ensure Singaporeans remain protected during this difficult period,” said Craig Ellis, GIA president.
“General insurers have remained resilient and agile in response to addressing changing protection needs and evolving risks, further endorsed by the findings of our recent consumer survey, in partnership with YouGov. The only way forward for us is to continue what we started—proactively driving progress and innovation for our industry to propel Singapore towards its eventual recovery and ensuring insurance remains accessible when people need it most.”