MANILA, Philippines — The insurance industry paid P4.35 billion in COVID claims in the first semester due to a resurgence in virus infections last summer that forced Metro Manila and adjacent provinces to revert to strict lockdown.

The Insurance Commission (IC) reported that about half of the payout at P2.06 billion was given by health maintenance organizations (HMOs) while another P1.98 billion was granted by life insurers.

On the other hand, mutual benefit associations (MBAs) accounted for P191.7 million, while non-life insurers made up the remaining P119.1 million.

Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa said the industry saw an increase in requests for claims in the first semester, especially during the summer season. He attributed this to the resurgence in COVID cases which pushed Metro Manila and nearby provinces to revert to stricter mobility restrictions.

“The figures provided show that the claims paid increased drastically from February to April and dipped slightly in June. This reflects the reported spike of COVID cases in the Philippines between March and May which prompted the government to impose stricter quarantine measures during said months,” Funa said.

Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal were placed under enhanced community quarantine from March 29 to April 11, and downgraded to modified ECQ from April 12 to May 14.

Funa said the industry issued P8.25 billion in COVID-19 claims since the pandemic started in the first quarter of 2020.

Broken down, HMOs contributed nearly half at P3.98 billion, followed by life insurers with P3.44 billion. MBAs released P546.6 million in COVID-19 payments while non-life insurers gave out P279.3 million.

According to the IC, the amount released for the first semester was arrived at based on a survey the agency conducted among its regulated entities. It covered about 80 percent of the industry, with 117 out of 147 firms participating to report their COVID-19 services during the period.

Insurance penetration, or the contribution of the industry to the economy, ballooned to a record 2.3 percent in the first quarter, from 1.76 percent a year ago.

However, Funa said the growth can be attributed to two factors: first, that Filipinos are realizing the importance of enrolling in an insurance policy, and second, that the base declined in the first quarter due to the recession.

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