Singapore life insurance – how did it fare in the first nine months of 2023?

Mixed results for the segment as economic uncertainty continues

Singapore life insurance – how did it fare in the first nine months of 2023?

Life & Health

By Kenneth Araullo

The Life Insurance Association (LIA) of Singapore has released its industry performance report for the period of January to September 2023 (YTD Q3 2023).

The report shows a total of S$3.5 billion in weighted new business premiums for YTD Q3 2023, marking a 9.7% decline from the previous year. Single-premium policies witnessed a significant decrease of 43.5% in weighted premiums, amounting to S$1.1 billion for the same period.

However, the third quarter of 2023 saw a 5% increase in total weighted premium over Q3 2022, primarily due to growth in annual premium policies. This rise reverses the declining trend observed in the first two quarters of 2023.

Annual premium policies continued to display robust performance, with a 9.8% quarter-on-quarter increase in Q3 2023, reaching $886.9 million from $807.5 million in Q2 2023. Despite this, the total weighted new business premiums still show a year-on-year decline, largely impacted by the decrease in single premium policies amidst the global economic uncertainty. Economists have revised Singapore's economic growth forecast for the year to 1%, down from an earlier projection of 1.4%.

Group life and health insurance premiums maintained steady growth, with a 13% increase in Q3 2023 compared to the same quarter in the previous year, totalling $2.2 billion to date.

The demand for annual premium policies remained strong, with a 24.9% increase in YTD Q3 2023 compared to YTD Q3 2022, amounting to S$2.4 billion in total weighted annual premiums. Tied representatives led the market, securing $40.1 billion sum assured in the first nine months of 2023, which is 37.9% of the total sum assured for the period.

Financial Adviser (FA) Representatives followed closely, adding another $39 billion in sum assured, representing 37% of the total amount in the same timeframe. The industry recorded a total of $105.6 billion in total sum assured during YTD Q3 2023, a 3.1% increase over the same period last year.

Shield Plans, payouts, and employment figures

Approximately 113,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents opted for Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) in the first nine months of 2023. As of now, about 70% of Singapore residents, totalling 2.91 million lives, are covered by IPs, which offer additional protection on top of MediShield Life. Total new business premiums for individual health insurance for YTD Q3 2023 reached S$321.1 million, a 25.5% increase from the previous year. IPs and IP rider premiums accounted for 84.1% (S$270 million) of this total, with the remaining 15.9% (S$51.1 million) comprising other medical plans and riders.

In terms of payouts, the life insurance industry paid out S$10.1 billion to policyholders and beneficiaries in the first nine months of 2023, a 16% increase from the same period in the previous year. Of this, S$8.8 billion was for matured policies, predominantly wealth accumulation plans with fixed maturity periods. The remaining S$1.3 billion catered to more than 15,000 policies for death, critical illness, or disability claims.

Employment in the life insurance sector saw a 6.9% increase compared to the same period in 2022. The industry has been actively hiring IT professionals to support digital transformation initiatives and responding to the aging population's needs by increasing the number of claims-related roles. This growth in employment brought the total workforce in the Singapore life insurance industry to 9,779 employees as of 30 September 2023. Additionally, 13,741 representatives held exclusive contracts with companies operating a tied-agency force.

“We are confident that Singapore’s life insurance industry will continue to remain resilient despite global economic uncertainties and geopolitical tensions. Our commitment remains to help individuals get better protected and enhance their financial wellbeing,” LIA president Dennis Tan said.

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