InLife expects turnaround this year

INSULAR LIFE Assurance Co., Ltd. (InLife) aims to end the year strong despite an increase in claims due to the prolonged coronavirus pandemic, its top official said.

Raoul E. Littaua, InLife’s newly appointed president and chief executive officer, said the company saw its gross premiums written climb by 52.6% to P3.54 billion in the first quarter from P2.32 billion in the same period a year ago.

The company’s new business annual premium equivalent also grew 42% to P422.21 million during the period from P297.44 million the year prior.

“What we’ve seen in the second quarter actually has been a stronger performance and this continues to be sustained all the way to this month as we approach the last quarter of the year. And I think that’s going to be sustained. We’re going to have a very good turnaround this year,” he told reporters at an online briefing on Tuesday.

Mr. Littaua expects the company to rebound from the “challenging” year it had in 2020, which was when the coronavirus pandemic hit, with lockdown restrictions affecting their ability to offer insurance products that were traditionally sold in person until the Insurance Commission (IC) allowed remote selling in early April.

“In the case of InLife, it’s also a fortunate thing that we have made investments in technology [and] in digitization way before the pandemic. InLife is the first insurance company in the country to have automated underwriting so it was fairly quick for us to move to a fully digital platform,” he said.

Despite its impact on their business, Mr. Littaua said the pandemic improved awareness of the importance of insurance protection, which also helped their sales.

“[Based on] the growth in our business, we can say there’s a surge in demand for protection products. We’ve seen that in our agency channel and our bancassurance channel. That’s because of the heightened awareness of people for life insurance protection at this time,” he said.

Claim applications also rose last year, especially with the addition of coronavirus-related claims, but Mr. Littaua said the insurer has the “financial strength to meet all those obligations.” 

He noted that insurers need to shift their business model from the traditional approach of purely indemnifying risks towards the more forward-looking view of prevention, where “longer, healthier and more meaningful lives for Filipinos” is the top priority.

He said InLife wants to become the local industry’s sole provider of complete risk protection services, including life, nonlife, health, and group insurance products.

Gross premiums collected by the country’s life and non-life insurance firms and mutual benefit associations rose 27.82% from a year earlier to P99.89 billion in the first quarter, IC data showed.

The insurance industry also made P4.35 billion in pandemic-related payouts in the first half of 2021, 12% higher than the P3.9 billion released in the whole of last year.

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