An important milestone has passed for Singlife Philippines after receiving the license to operate as a life insurance company from the Insurance Commission (IC) last Monday, February 17.
“I’m very grateful to Mr. Funa and the people in the IC for the fast turnaround of our license application,” Singlife Philippines President & CEO Rien Hermans shares. “We submitted all the requirements for our license only last mid-December, and we actually have the license framed in our office barely two months after.”
Apart from the usual documents for corporations and a detailed business plan, it is a requirement for every new insurance company to have an unimpaired capital of at least Php 1 billion to ensure contract liabilities can be met. After receiving Php 1.3 billion from its shareholders Singapore Life Pte Ltd., Di-Firm, and Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Singlife Philippines cleared all the requirements and passed the mark.
Singlife Philippines is not just another life insurance company. Aligned with its vision to unlock the potential of money for everyone, the company’s objective is to broaden the penetration of life insurance in the country. Current penetration of individual life insurance products is still low at 6% of the insurable population and is expected to double or even triple in the medium-term, based on experience elsewhere in the region.
Mr. Hermans states that “the key issue is that available products are not affordable nor attractive at the moment. Minimum premiums are too high, or benefits are not flexible enough to fit the needs of clients with a smaller budget.” He continues, saying that “distributors are more focused on clients who can pay high premiums and generate attractive commissions.”
Digital technology has changed many industries, allowed services to be distributed to a broader range of clients, and made customer experience reach a higher standard. Unlike the nineties when customers were fine with receiving statements of account twice a month, customers now check their balance twice a day through their mobile devices and expect payments transacted over social media platforms to be in their accounts within minutes.
Regulators recognize the change in customer demands, the need for financial inclusion and the benefits technology can offer. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) support for electronic fund transfer services such as PESONet and InstaPay and regulation on e-wallets are testaments to this fact, just as the IC’s push for micro-insurance and support for new digital players like Singlife Philippines affirm the same.
Commissioner Dennis B. Funa and the IC welcome the entry of Singlife in the market. He states: “technology has underpinned the consistent, continuous growth of the insurance industry in the Philippines. Singlife’s philosophy – of making insurance customer-centric and efficient through technology – is a game-changer for the evolving needs of a digital, progressive middle class who expect to be served real time and in a fair manner.”
With the license received, Singlife Philippines is targeting to launch its first product in April.