Pinoys pickier with insurance policies

Jonathan de Santos
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

When it comes to insurance, Filipinos are pickier and actually ask more questions, Pru Life UK president and CEO Antonio de Rosas, who is currently in PH, told reporters Tuesday.
In Indonesia, which is regional group Prudential Corporation Asia’s biggest earner, clients only want details of coverage, he said.

Typical Pinoy questions include “What if I get sick? What if I die?,” said de Rosas.
Filipinos also want to know the fund value of their policies, he said. Aside from a contingency against sickness and accidents, Filipinos also look at insurance policies as investments.
That then pose a challenge to agents selling insurance policies, hence contributing to a drop in the number of agents in the Philippines. De Rosas said the failure of some pre-need companies may also have added to the lack of interest in insurance careers.
There are only around 20,000 agents in the Philippines from a high of 40,000. “That’s the total for the entire industry,” he said.
In contrast, India has insurance agents “by the million,” Pru Life UK vice president for marketing Belle Tiongco said.
De Rosas said the industry should do more to promote careers in life insurance, especially since there is now "more interest in life insurance products."
With the market expected to grow four to five times in the next 10 years, he said he hopes to see the number of insurance agents in the Philippines increase to around 100,000.
“We have not been advertising how rewarding a career in insurance is,” he said.

Given the choice between working in a bank or as an insurance agent, most graduates would choose the more comfortable bank job, he said. De Rosas said many hesitate to sell insurance because they have to “start from zero” and literally knock on doors.
“That’s why they are paid well, for their hard work,” he said. Agents get commissions of 35 percent to 45 percent, he said. “They are the ones who become millionaires.”
Pru Life UK recruited more than 1,000 agents in 2011, beefing up its sales team to around 3,000 agents.
“We will have much more than that. We are aggressively expanding our agency force,” De Rosas said.