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Hakuna Matata

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - May 8, 2021 - 12:00am

Financial security is something most people take for granted.

The pandemic, however, has brought about many painful lessons, including the importance of having enough money saved to cover emergencies.

In one article, it was suggested that financial security means being able to set aside several months worth of living expenses to take care of unexpected occurrences like job loss or having to go to the hospital. Feeling financially secure should also include insurance to cover the what-ifs in life, the same article mentioned.

But with the pandemic, living paycheck to paycheck without savings or suitable insurance is guaranteed to affect ones sense of financial security and mental health.

In a recent article by Forbes Advisor, it was noted how the pandemic got a lot of people thinking about the financial security of their families, with life insurance moving to the top of many to-do lists.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could live the rest of our days with no worries, hakuna matata.

While the Philippines’ gross domestic product declined by close to 10 percent, the life insurance industry managed to remain relatively stable, with total premium income growing by 5.9 percent, from P233.9 billion in 2019 to P247.7 billion in 2020, and assets increasing by seven percent.

But while the industry’s total premium income increased, new business annual premium equivalent (NBAPE) went down by 19.8 percent, which means growth in terms of new premium generated by insurers fared worse in contrast to 2019.

According to Allianz PNB Life president and chief executive officer Alexander Grenz, while the pandemic has increased awareness for the value and necessity of health and protection coverage, such awareness did not translate to sales for majority of insurers.

However, Grenz shared in an interview that Allianz PNB Life was able to reverse this trend by earning P2.2 billion in growth last year, equivalent to 27.5 percent growth in NBAPE and ranking eight in actual figures among industry peers versus 11th in 2019.

And because the challenges of having inadequate health protection or life insurance are all too clear, and unfortunately pretty devastating especially during the pandemic, Grenz said Allianz PNB Life has aimed to educate as many Filipinos as possible on the value of both solutions. He assured that there exists a diverse range of products with premium options to suit everyone’s financial capabilities.

While the life insurance industry grew by 5.9 percent in terms of total premium income, the pre-need industry shrank by more than 15 percent, finishing at P18.6 billion last year, according to Grenz.

Traditional life insurance products grew by a mere 1.09 percent last year with P64.5 billion in total premium income, compared to variable life insurance products, which improved by 7.7 percent in terms of total premium income.

Grenz said that Allianz PNB Life regained its status as the fastest growing life insurance company in the Philippines in 2020, jumping from rank 11 to eight in terms of new business, and an equivalent number of places from 10 to seven in terms of total premium income.

This achievement of being among the best, he said, also extends among Allianz-operating entities in the Asia Pacific region, with the Philippines leading the pack in terms of generating new business value, he said.

Grenz revealed that a major component of their record-breaking performance in 2020 and year-to-date is their single premium unit-linked products and dividend-paying funds, which have offered high and stable yields in addition to protection benefits.

He said that it is widely accepted in the industry that Filipinos have heightened awareness for health and protection solutions and this has been reflected in a higher share of health insurance sales in their portfolio.

Grenz pointed out that the protection gap in the country remains staggering at trillions of pesos and so Allianz PNB Life products help address this gap in order to safeguard Filipinos against financial ruin brought about by illness or death.

The company offers Allianz Well! and eAZy Health to address health coverage needs. Allianz Well! provides health and wellness benefits with an annual plan limit of P100 million and supplements existing coverage from HMOs, while Allianz eAZy Health is an affordable and renewable five-year insurance solution that will help future-proof one’s health and offer critical illness coverage along with life, accident, and disability benefits.

Allianz PNB Life also has Allianz Shield, a regular-pay, unit-linked insurance plan available in both peso and US dollar denominations, which allows for a coverage of at least P1 million with premiums as low as P 6,000 per quarter.

These solutions, Grenz said, are complemented by their stable of high-performing funds, which on the other hand aid in wealth accumulation for the policyholders.

Grenz has been with the Allianz Group for close to two decades and worked in various executive positions along the value chain of insurance and asset management. “I am a firm believer in the value of insurance and asset management products. My personal advocacy is to make them accessible to clients, especially in the Philippines where insurance penetration remains very low.I love it here in the Philippines, my home now for six years, because I very much appreciate the people and the beautiful places to visit. I am driven by a sense of purpose and so embrace Allianz’s goal to secure the future of our customers and offer solutions that are simple, fair, and sustainable,” he said.

He expressed optimism that greater acceptance of digital sales tools, heightened awareness for health and protection, and increased promotion and education programs from industry players will lead to the industry recovering and growing further in 2021.

During the interview, Grenz revealed that they are launching a new work model this year which empowers colleagues to work effectively from anywhere in the Philippines and enhance policy issuance standards to achieve their target of five minutes.

“We will continue to focus on transformation by further investing in our IT systems and enhancing our digital roadmap in collaboration with our distribution partners.We will also further pursue our sustainability initiatives such as Ride Safe and Allianz Kaagapay, and meet the demand for health and protection by offering new products and solutions. Finally, we will develop a digital ecosystem that will provide ease of access to various products and exclusive benefits for both prospects and policyholders,” he added.

 

 

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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