Life insurers forecast 23-24% growth in premiums this year

By Ted P. Torres, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 27 2011 07:30 AM | Updated as of Jul 27 2011 03:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s life insurance industry is forecasting total premiums to grow 23 to 24%, with first year premiums seen to expand 60% in 2011.

Philippine Life Insurance Association (PLIA) president Mayo Jose B. Ongsingco said that all indicators point to strong growth for premiums this year.

“We think this year will experience the same strong growth as in 2010,” Ongsingco, who is also president of Insular Life Assurance Co., said in a press briefing yesterday.

In 2010, total premium income of the life insurance sector grew 23.56%, or from P57.2 billion in 2009 to P70.7 billion.

Of the first year premiums, almost two-thirds were sold through the bancassurance distribution channel while the remaining one-third was generated through the agency channel.

The PLIA said all internal forces were working in favor of a sustained premium growth, including six to 7% growth in gross domestic product (GDP), strong consumption, remittances from overseas Filipinos, sustained growth of the business process outsourcing (BPO), and high liquidity of the country’s financial system.

The negative political unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa and the various problems in the eurozone are also working in favor of more investments finding their way to the Asia Pacific region including the Philippines.

“All the negative factors that may work against the industry’s growth is basically external,” the PLIA president said.

The top two players in terms of premium income are Philippine American Life and General Insurance Co. (Philamlife) and Sun Life Financial Philippines.

Philippine AXA Life Insurance Co. (AXA) and Prulife UK of the Philippines (Prulife) grabbed the third and fourth place, respectively. Insular Life Assurance Co. (Insular Life) slipped from third in 2009 to fifth last year.

BPI Philam Life, the joint venture bancassurance company of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and PhilamLife, fell to sixth 2010 from fifth in the previous year.

The next four to round up the top 10 are Manulife Philippines, Grepalife Financial, United Cocolife and Generali Pilipinas.

The top 10 insurers already account for over 80% of the sector’s total premiums.