Life insurance sees strong six-month growth

PHOTO: Life insurance sees strong six-month growth

SINGAPORE - The life insurance sector recorded strong growth in the first half with a sharp rise in income across all segments.

Weighted new business premiums came in at $1.298 billion for the six months to June 30, an increase of 24 per cent on the same period a year ago, according to the Life Insurance Association (LIA) on Monday.

In the second quarter alone, the number rose by 38 per cent year-on-year to $736.2 million.

Weighted new business premiums are a widely used performance gauge in the industry.

Healthy sales across all product lines helped spur growth.

Sales of single premium products rose 7 per cent to $314.2 million in the first half while sales of regular premium products jumped 31 per cent to $983.8 million.

LIA president Annette King on Monday said the industry had a challenging start to the year, though things improved in the second quarter.

"We are hopeful that improved market sentiment will augur well for the life insurance sector into the rest of the year. We see opportunities in areas such as health and retirement planning," she added.

The growth in new health insurance premiums also helped the sector.

Sales shot up in the first half to $191 million, more than double the $84 million seen in the same period last year.

Premiums came in at $126 million for the second quarter, far higher than the $65 million in the first quarter this year as well as the $48 million in the second quarter last year.

The LIA said much of the rise was due to participating members upgrading their existing plan in response to better coverage provided by the national MediShield scheme that took effect from March 1.

As a result, the premiums of insurers' Integrated Shield Plans have been revised upwards.

Earlier this year, the Government widened the coverage of the nation's basic medical insurance scheme, MediShield, to include certain groups of people with congenital and neonatal health issues, among others.

LIA deputy president Khoo Kah Siang noted the impact of the change: "It is an important plan, because either you have the basic MediShield or you get the Integrated plan, which will provide a more comprehensive cover."

A total of 2.65 million lives were covered as at the end of June.

The LIA intends to boost its public education initiatives to strengthen awareness of life insurance among the broader community. It also plans to launch its inaugural Life Insurance Week later in the year.

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