New sales up 38% for Singapore life insurers in first 9 months of year

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s life insurance industry recorded a total of $4.11 billion in weighted new business premiums for January to September, growing 38 per cent over the same period last year.

This comes amid a spike in the number of policies purchased online as well as a rise in the uptake of single premium products, the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA) said on Thursday (Nov 11).

The number of new policies bought online more than tripled, to 370,528, from 120,396 in the same period last year.

“These are purchases transacted online by customers without financial advisory,” LIA said.

The association added that the increase in the number of policies purchased online can be attributed to the popularity of single-premium sales since the pandemic started. 

“Short-term single premium products are easy to understand and require no medical underwriting, making them more accessible to purchase on digital platforms,” it said. 

Sales of single-premium products for the first three quarters of the year rose 68 per cent in weighted premiums to $2.03 billion, while those of annual premium products grew by 17 per cent to $2.07 billion.

LIA noted that integrated shield plans (IPs) remain a key component of health insurance.

Some 25,000 more Singaporeans and permanent residents were covered by IPs and riders over the first nine months of this year.

In total, about 70 per cent of Singapore residents, or 2.84 million people, are protected by IPs and riders, which provide coverage on top of MediShield Life.

The amount of new business premiums for individual health insurance shrank slightly, by 1.8 per cent, to $268.2 million.

IPs and IP rider premiums accounted for 82 per cent of this figure, while the remaining 18 per cent came from other medical plans and riders.

Besides IPs, Singapore customers also kept up with retirement planning, as the sales of retirement policies continued to increase, LIA noted.

There was a 12 per cent increase in the uptake of retirement policies in the first three quarters of the year, compared with the same period last year.

As at Sept 30, a total of 32,297 retirement policies have been purchased.

Retirement policies totalled $295.5 million in weighted premiums for the first nine months of this year, taking into account the total weighted premiums for the three quarters.

On the employment side, the number of people working in the industry dipped by 0.8 per cent to 8,728 as at end-September, from 8,801 a year ago.

Over the same period, the number of tied representatives – as measured by agents who represent only one insurer – declined by 1.7 per cent, to 15,022, from 15,286 previously.

LIA Singapore president Khor Hock Seng said that Covid-19 has greatly accelerated the digitalisation journey for insurers.

“Again, insurers will continue to focus on equipping our workforce to embrace digitalised processes and new ways of working,” he said.