MANILA, Philippines — Overall sales of microinsurance grew 16.3 percent year-on-year to P2.31 billion in the first quarter, but a decline in the non-life sector’s premiums amid harder times due to the pandemic reduced the number of Filipinos covered by these affordable products to 46.97 million.

Insurance Commission (IC) data on Friday showed that total microinsurance contributions and premium production across the life, non-life and mutual benefit association (MBA) sectors as of end-March rose from P1.99 billion a year ago.

Life insurers’ microinsurance sales increased 7.9 percent year-on-year to P699.5 million, while MBAs sold a bigger P1.37-billion worth, up 26.7 percent.

On the other hand, non-life insurance firms’ sales declined 6.3 percent year-on-year to P239.3 million.

“There are a few [non-life] providers for microinsurance, and all of us — both insurers and insured — have been affected by the pandemic. On the side of the insured, there are other more pressing needs such as food, shelter and clothing, given that those who avail of microinsurance are the poorer sectors of society,” Michael Rellosa, executive director at the non-life industry group Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association (Pira), explained to the Inquirer.

“On the side of the providers, distribution channels that still relied on person-to-person transactions suffered as less people were out-and-about. The same is true for the standard coverages. Sales or the top line suffered as well,” Rellosa added.

Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa told the Inquirer that “the decrease made by the non-life sector in the aspect of premium production did not affect the performance of the entire industry in this component of the business,” pointing to the first-quarter sales growth of the life and MBA sectors.

But the drop in non-life microinsurance sales slashed total end-March population coverage by 2.6 percent from a bigger 48.22 million Filipinos covered a year ago, Funa noted.

The number of insured by MBAs grew 7.9 percent year-on-year to 29.25 million, while those covered by life microinsurance plans increased 4.4 percent to 13.93 million Filipinos.

Non-life coverage dropped 51.2 percent to 3.79 million Filipinos as of March from 7.78 million last year.

IC data showed 22 MBAs, 10 life insurance companies, and 11 non-life insurers selling relatively cheaper microinsurance coverage at present.

In 2020, 50.35 million Filipinos were covered by microinsurance products, achieving the government’s 50-million target by 2022 earlier by two years. By: Ben O. de Vera | Philippine Daily Inquirer

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