With Singapore’s economy going through a rough patch in 2019, its life insurance industry posted a 4% year-on-year decrease in new sales for the first nine months of the year.
According to the Life Insurance Association (LIA) Singapore, the industry recorded roughly SG$3 billion in weighted new business premiums for January to September 2019, a 4% decrease from the same period last year. This was in line with the economy as a whole, with GDP growing only 0.1% year-on-year.
Furthermore, total sum assured for new business increased by 1%, amounting to SG$103.1 billion, the LIA said in a statement.
“The ongoing economic volatility has inevitably impacted the first three quarters’ performance for the life insurance industry,” said Khor Hock Seng, president of LIA Singapore. “However, the association and member companies remain steadfast in our efforts and commitment to provide better protection for customers – reflected by the increased total sum assured. This is especially crucial at a time when there is a growing cohort in the population of older people and increasing rates of chronic medical conditions among both the young and old.”
Annual premium products saw an increase of 4%, amounting to SG$2.1 billion in total weighted annual premiums, This was mainly attributed by the LIA to the increase in uptake of participating plans, meeting the protection and saving needs of consumers.
On the other hand, sales of single premium products dropped by 20%, mostly due to a volatile global market, the association said.
Uptake of retirement policies increased by 57%, making up around 12% of total weighted premiums for the first nine months of 2019. A total of 38,622 policies were purchased as of September 30, or 14,012 more compared to the same period in 2018.
LIA reported that integrated shield plans (IPs) remain a significant component of health insurance, with 53,000 more Singaporeans and permanent residents covered by IPs and riders as of September 30. Around 69% of Singapore residents, or 2.77 million individuals, were covered by IPs and riders.
Hiring in the life insurance industry continued, with the number of employees increasing by 296, or 3.6% year-on-year, for a total of 8,444 employees as of September 30. Recruitment was focused on data analytics, cyber security, and various insurance business functions as life insurers pursue digital innovation, the association said.