MANILA, Philippines — The insurance industry was able to pay out a total of P3.89 billion in COVID-19-related claims in 2020, most of which were forked out by health maintenance organizations (HMOs), the Insurance Commission said yesterday.

This comprises payouts made by 111 regulated life and non-life insurers, mutual benefit associations (MBAs), and HMOs and was the sum following the third survey on pandemic-related claims conducted by the IC last year.

Out of the total, almost half at P1.91 billion was paid out by the HMO sector while the rest worth P1.46 billion was settled by life insurers.

Meanwhile, MBAs paid out P354.90 million and non-life insurers settled P160.20 million in claims.

IC conducted three surveys on COVID-19 related claims from the insurance industry last year to assess the continuing financial impact of the pandemic on the sector.

The first survey covered the months of March to April, while the second survey covered the months of May up to September. The third survey included the months of October to December.

By type of claims, death benefit claims constituted the highest payout across subsectors at P1.22 billion last year.

This was followed by in-patient benefits amounting to P1.18 billion, and out-patient benefits amounting P933.7 million in total.

“We hope that the aggregate amount of COVID-19-related claims paid in 2020 by life and non-life insurers, MBAs, and HMOs either within or outside of contractual obligations amounting to P3.89 billion, which by itself is no small feat, will continue to inspire consumer confidence in said four respondent sectors; and will educate our fellow Filipinos of the benefits of availing the insurance and HMO products and the benefits of MBA membership,” said Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa.

Funa also said the upward trend in the average payouts of claims last year underscored the commitment of the insurance industry to respond to the needs of their customers during the pandemic.

Since last year, insurers have been stepping up their digitalization drive to enable their employees to remotely process claims even as mobility restrictions are in place.

At the same time, strengthened online platforms enable customers to purchase products from the comfort of their homes.

Increased digitalization coupled with a growing army of agents are enabling insurance companies to expand their sales as agents can be trained to engage customers even as they stay at home.

For this year, more insurers are offering more affordable products aimed at providing health and accident coverage to reach out to more customers across socioeconomic segments.

Some are also forming partnerships with micro-financial service providers to gain access to millions-strong customer base in the lower income population for sachet types of insurance products. BY: Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star)

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