Appetite for insurance products rises due to pandemic

SINCE the entry of Covid-19 in the Philippines, insurance and investment company Manulife Philippines has found out that more Filipinos are keen on buying insurance.

The survey, “Understanding Filipinos’ Sentiments Towards Health and Critical Illness,” revealed that 77 percent of the 500 respondents from all over the country wanted to get insurance in the next 18 months. The survey was conducted between January to July 2020.

“Over the past few months, we all know we have been presented by significant challenges and concerns. The global pandemic is really taking its toll economically, emotionally but most importantly, it has made everybody far more aware of taking care of our health,” Richard Bates, Manulife Philippines president and chief executive officer, said during a Zoom meeting Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Bates said the pandemic prompted people to watch over their health, particularly their mental and physical strengths.

“When we look at our customers, at the market, we realize that people are becoming more concerned whether they are prepared on the event that will potentially happen to them or their family or friends, or if they are prepared financially or in terms of their own ability to support themselves if something would happen,” he said.

Financial worries

Results of the survey also showed financial worries have a greater impact on Filipinos’ sentiments toward protecting themselves from critical illness, especially during the pandemic.

“These evolving times have opened our eyes to the importance of health and wellness, and importantly, made many Filipinos appreciate the value of insurance protection,” Melissa Henson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Manulife Philippines, said.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, Filipino respondents have recognized the importance of prevention through different heath activities, with three out of the five formed habits they intend to keep in the next 18 months all related to health.

These include finding ways to be more physically healthy (81 percent), monitoring key health indicators (76 percent); and keeping track of mental wellness (74 percent), along with using online services more (75 percent) for contactless needs in the age of social distancing; and reviewing and managing personal finance more often (78 percent).

Staying healthy and avoiding illness, having sufficient savings and assuring the family’s well-being are the top three priorities of Filipinos. Savings for medical emergencies, emergency funds and healthcare are included in their short-term goals while healthcare, life insurance protection and retirement are their top long-term goals.

During the pandemic, Filipinos’ top worries around health and safety of their family have heightened, given the fear of acquiring the virus and the number of cases continuing to rise.

Increased appetite

Despite these challenges and behaviors, the study revealed that there is an increased appetite for insurance due to fear and concerns as a result of the pandemic. In fact, 60 percent believe that the local economy will take a longer time to recover, and 48 percent believe that it will be difficult to get healthcare.

These fears and concerns fuel the demand of insurance purchase overall, with 77 percent planning to buy insurance, mostly life and health-related products in the next 18 months.

“The uncertainty brought by Covid-19 has created greater awareness and appreciation for insurance products, as it underscored the importance of being prepared for unexpected illness,” Henson said.

“This study reinforced the need to continue educating Filipinos on their physical and financial health so they can build better habits, make better financial decisions and live every day better,” she added.

The Manulife Philippines health study was conducted in partnership with ABN Impact InSites Consulting, an independent market research agency. (JOB)