Insurance industry veteran Rico Bautista was recently re-elected as president of the Philippine Life Insurance Association Inc. (PLIA). Currently the president and CEO of Etiqa Philippines, Bautista will continue for a second term in PLIA, the country’s umbrella organization of all life insurance companies, collectively promoting the growth of the life insurance industry and its contribution to socio-economic development.
“Being entrusted with this position anew involves collaborating with industry players and regulators in directing the industry toward growth and innovation, particularly in accelerating insurance penetration through insurtech,” Bautista said in a statement. “Fortunately, we were able to build the foundation for several goals last year. This 2023 is all about nurturing and reaping its fruits for the benefit not only of PLIA, but also of insured and uninsured Filipinos amid the ongoing economic challenges in these post-pandemic times.”
In 2022, consistent with its mission of serving as a liaison to national, regional, and international organizations, PLIA engaged with regulators, the legislature, and the judiciary on issues that impact the life insurance industry. These came in the form of providing feedback on draft regulations to the Insurance Commission, proposing to Congress amendments to the Insurance Code concerning matters of key significance to the industry’s operation, and seeking clarity with the courts regarding the industry’s ongoing legal challenges aiming to resolve conflicts in the mandatory reporting of policyholder credit data and the interpretation of a standard policy claim settlement provision. PLIA ensured that the industry is ably represented and its viewpoints heard in the proceedings of these agencies and institutions.
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In the same year, PLIA also strengthened its presence and pushed for insurtech-centered programs, which led to a review of its IT capabilities and a study of other tech–related projects. The association also launched the #Life Goals Buddy campaign, which aims to help increase awareness among Filipinos on life insurance via the social media platform.
In its continued pursuit to leverage technology to improve processes and increase efficiency, PLIA will work closely with the Insurance Commission to greenlight a study on how artificial intelligence may boost the industry’s capacity in qualifying agents to be licensed financial advisors and do away with prevailing physical resource requirements in agent examination administration.
However, despite persistent and intensified efforts, the insurance space continues to see challenges. The Insurance Commission attributes them to several factors including the country’s relatively low level of financial literacy. For example, with the painting of insurance as a discretionary expense on top of the most basic necessities, the growth of the Philippine insurance industry has been slow. A crucial factor affecting financial literacy is the public’s common and fearful association of insurance with deaths and accidents. Further worsening this lack of acceptance is the perceived unreliability of insurance companies and concerns about the timeliness of claims payments.
In this regard, PLIA’s plan this year to ride on current bills in Congress that aim to lift financial literacy, to enable institutionalizing a financial literacy subject in the high school curriculum, would be a step in the right direction toward improving our current state of financial awareness.
Bautista elaborated on one strategy to spread the correct message about insurance while debunking the false perception.
“Filipinos spend so much time on the web and are fascinated by gadgets. This is where insurtech comes in,” Bautista said. “Using digital tools, gamification, chatbots, artificial intelligence, smart devices, machine learning, extended reality can help transform and enhance aspects of the insurance process that have previously been the source of hesitation and inconvenience for Filipinos. Technology can also be a good ally in addressing financial illiteracy.”
While recognizing that this transition will be for the long haul, Bautista said that PLIA will remain on top of the ever-changing challenges to the next generation of agents, brokers, underwriters, risk managers, and claims evaluators. But to do so, he emphasized that insurance companies should be more involved in increasing people’s awareness about the services and benefits of having various types of insurance. One way to do it is to adjust to the current era, its customers, and its need for innovations.
PLIA will foster, maintain, and protect the organization’s strong ties with various groups and agencies. This 2023, Bautista is bent on securing that and building more efficient partnerships with new and relevant entities that now play a significant role in charting the growth and development of the life insurance industry.
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