MANILA, Philippines — Insurance firms released almost P17 billion in benefits to their clients during the pandemic in their sustained efforts to shoulder the medical needs of policyholders.

The Insurance Commission (IC) yesterday said the industry released P16.71 billion in payouts from the start of the pandemic to the end of 2021.

IC commissioner Dennis Funa said the amount indicated that life and non-life insurers, including health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and mutual benefit associations (MBAs), responded to the financial requirements of their clients during the pandemic.

“The results of the latest IC survey reveal the sustained resilience of our regulated entities against the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The figures also show a sustained commitment by our regulated entities in addressing the pandemic-related needs of the Filipino people,” he said.

The bulk of the payouts at P12.82 billion were remitted in 2021. The other P3.89 billion was paid by industry players during the first year of the pandemic in 2020.

According to Funa, life insurers accounted for the lion’s share of the COVID-19 claims payout at P9.05 billion.

HMOs came in next with 39 percent of total at P6.45 billion, while MBAs and non-life firms extended P833 million and P382 million, respectively.

“The figures, as regards pandemic-related claims paid, show an upward trend for the months of January to May 2021, dipping slightly in June, thereafter increasing again until reaching the peak in September 2021, and subsequently exhibiting a downward trend for the months of October until December 2021,” Funa said.

According to the IC, insurance firms had to shell out P1.4 billion to cover for the medical needs of their policyholders who contracted the virus in September 2021. At that time, the country was dealing with a resurgence of infections due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Afterward, the Philippines posted record-lows daily average from October to December, pushing the government to loosen mobility restrictions during the holidays. However, the early reopening came to bite back the gains made in managing the pandemic, as the spread of the Omicron variant moved Metro Manila and other areas to Alert Level 3 in January. By: Elijah Felice Rosales – The Philippine Star

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