The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has raised health alarm signals globally. The latest survey by Manulife shows Filipino insurance clients are more concerned about the effects of the pandemic compared to their counterparts in most of Asia.
The Manulife Asia Care Survey, conducted in late May, surveyed 300 insurance owners in the Philippines. Most respondents expressed concern about the pandemic’s long-term impact on the local economy and their day-to-day living.
The pessimism of Filipinos about the likelihood of COVID-19 slowing down in the next six months was second to that of Indonesians, among those across the eight markets surveyed. More than half (58%) of the Filipino respondents said they thought COVID-19 would get more serious during the second half of 2020, above the regional average of 41%.
Manulife Philippines is a wholly-owned domestic subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corp.
The health crisis brought awareness to the need of having health insurance with 77% of respondents in the Philippines saying that they intend to buy additional insurance in the next 18 months, “which is the most robust level among all the markets surveyed and well above the regional average of 62%.” Life (33%), health (29%) and hospitalization (31%), accident (28%) and critical illness (27%) are the main new insurance products being considered by insurance owners in the Philippines.
The economic effects of the pandemic, which prompted governments to impose lockdowns that disrupted businesses, also directly affected families and individuals. And as if on cue, 46% of respondents in the Philippines said they revisited their finances and have been checking on it more often now than before the crisis.
The survey showed a greater willingness to use online services with regard to monitoring their finances. Respondents have been using online payment (79%) and online tools for news and socialization (both 63%) since the start of the pandemic. Switching shopping from offline to online is quite substantial (46% of the respondents have done so) since COVID-19 started.
According to Manulife, “the Philippines is one of the region’s most under-insured countries.” One measure of insurance penetration is gross written premiums as a percentage of per-capita GDP. In the Philippines, along with a few other markets in the region, the penetration rate is less than 1%, far below the rates in markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
In terms for general health and well-being, a willingness to manage insurance via digital channels combined with new-found – or reawakened – interest in being more active means that the respondents in the Philippines can tap into insurer products that help to make an active lifestyle more rewarding in terms of being fun and engaging.