Insurers want new code
() - March 17, 2009 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - One of the priorities of the new officers and directors of the Philippine Life Insurance Association (PLIA) is to effect amendments to the antiquated Insurance Code.

This was the message of newly elected PLIA president Victor P. Quisumbing as he assumes office at a time of global crisis. PLIA is the trade organization of all licensed life insurers in the country numbering a little over 30.

Quisumbing said that the overall intention of the 2009 PLIA board is to intensify public awareness and appreciation of life insurance and to increase market penetration, which currently stands at a feeble nine percent of the working population.

A priority agenda is to aggressively push for reforms in the Insurance Code, which is outmoded and antiquated.

“A good number of its provisions are already obsolete. Some are inflexible and cannot keep pace with the changing times, such as new risks and new international developments,” Quisumbing, who is also president and chef executive officer of the Great Pacific Life Assurance Co. (Grepalife), said.

Some of the provisions assume that a lot of the business is still manual in nature, versus the present electronic environment that speeds up the entire backroom and front processes.

PLIA is also taking a more hard-line stance in lobbying for the removal of excessive industry taxation, particularly the five-percent premium tax, and the rationalization of the documentary stamp tax (DST), which is being levied for every premium paid, instead of being a one time charge on a document.

“We are the only country in Asia that’s being taxed on insurance products which are basically savings products. Insurance premiums are so high that it becomes a deterrent to our goal of increasing our market penetration,” he explained.

The same dilemna is hounding their counterparts in the non-life insurance sector, where 25 percent of premiums paid at actually various national and municipal taxes.

Other targets involve the intensification of the Life Insurance Consciousness Campaign to the public, and a partnership with the Department of Education to introduce the subject of Financial Planning into the high school curriculum.

“We need to educate our children early on about the value of insurance, savings, and long-term financial planning, so they won’t grow up with the bahala na mentality. Filipinos have a very low savings ratio compared to other nationalities because our children are not attuned to savings and insurance. We want to change all that by educating our people on financial planning as early as possible,” he said in a press statement.

Quisumbing, who first headed PLIA in 2004, said it was a privilege to be appointed with this responsibility again, and to help carry Grepalife as well as the entire industry through what he expects to be challenging times.

Completing the roster of the 2009 PLIA officers are: Mabini L. Juan, vice president (Manila Bankers Life); Peter G. Coyuito, treasurer (First Guarantee Life); and Carl S. Gustini, secretary (Manulife Philippines); Jose L. Cuisia Jr. (Philamlife), Jaime L. Fernandez (Beneficial Life), Jose C. Lee (Philippine International Life), Benjamin C. Lim (United Life) and Gregorio D. Mercado (Philippine Prudential Life), directors.

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