Life insurance industry achieves record-breaking growth in 2017 as key initiatives continue to make significant progress

Singapore, 09 February 2018

The Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA Singapore) today announced stellar industry results for the period January to December 2017 (YTD 4Q2017).

Industry milestone achieved with double-digit growth across all product types

Singapore’s life insurance industry crossed a significant milestone in 2017 with total weighted new business premiums1 reaching S$4,088.2 million for the year. This is the highest amount recorded to date. An impressive 24 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2016 affirms the industry’s outstanding progress in the past 12 months.

There was also strong double-digit growth across both single and annual premium products within the period.

Weighted single premiums rose significantly by 43 per cent to reach S$1,463.9 million, based on a year-on-year comparison with:

a) Single premium par and non-par products comprised 73 per cent, the balance 27 per cent were single premium linked products;

b) CPFIS-included products comprised 14 per cent; Cash-funded products took the remaining 86 per cent

There was a remarkable 91 per cent jump in uptake of single premium products in the last quarter of the year (compared to Q4 2016). The total S$563.2 million recorded within the three months account for 38 per cent of the entire year’s figure.

Increased sum assured and uptake of protection-focused policies

The industry continues to make significant progress in supporting individuals in Singapore better meet their protection needs.  Total sum assured for new business rose strongly by 12 per cent year-on-year, totalling S$130.5 billion, continuing an upward trend since 2014.

As at 31 December 2017, the life insurance industry paid out S$5.82 billion to policyholders and beneficiaries. Of this amount, S$4.93 billion was for policies that matured. The remaining S$884 million was for death, critical illness, or disability claims.

Additionally, in keeping with the national focus on retirement planning, the industry saw an uptake of 25,775 policies designed to provide regular payouts to policyholders during retirement years. This represents a 27 per cent increase from the previous year. Such plans account for approximately five per cent of the total weighted premiums for YTD 4Q2017.

Continued accessibility of healthcare and healthcare insurance

Health insurance premiums2 totalled S$374 million for YTD 4Q2017, of which Integrated Shield Plans (IP) premiums and IP riders accounted for 91 per cent (S$341 million). The remaining nine per cent (S$33 million) came from other medical plans and riders. As at 31 December 2017, 2.66 million lives, or approximately 67 per cent of Singapore residents have an IP which provides coverage over and above the component included in MediShield Life.

2017 also saw the implementation and progress on numerous recommendations put forth by the industry-driven Health Insurance Task Force (HITF) with the aim of bringing together all relevant stakeholders to collaborate and take pro-active steps to collectively manage the escalating healthcare and healthcare insurance costs in Singapore.

Several insurers have also introduced:

  • Preferred panel of medical specialists
  • Pre-authorisation of medical treatment
  • Health and wellness programmes for customers

On a national level, LIA Singapore is part of the 13-member Fee Benchmark Advisory Committee appointed by the Ministry of Health to recommend appropriate fee guidelines for medical procedures and services.

Mr. Patrick Teow, President of LIA Singapore, said, “In addition to remarkable growth achieved in 2017, we are also heartened by steady progress being made to ensure that healthcare remains affordable for Singaporeans. The life insurance industry will continue to take the lead in driving initiatives based on recommendations made by the Task Force. This reflects our commitment to supporting national priorities and helping more members of the community get adequately insured, particularly important to maintain the quality of life in Singapore at a time of significant demographic change.”

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FOR YTD 4Q2017

Product Classification

Par products accounted for 46 per cent of new sales while non-par products accounted for 36 per cent. Investment-linked products made up the remaining 18 per cent.

Distribution Channels

The contribution of new business by the different channels of distribution remains relatively constant, and is as follows:

Distribution channel By weighted premium (%) By number of policies (%)
Tied Representatives 38 56
Bank Representatives 37 12
Financial Adviser Representatives 19 17
Others (products sold without intermediaries, e.g. DPI, ElderShield) 6 15

Product License Classification

As at 31 December 2017, insurers holding “Normal” licenses contributed 98 per cent of new sales, while the “Defined Market Segments” (DMS) insurers3 made up the remaining two per cent of new sales for YTD 4Q2017.

Group Insurance: Total Annual Premiums Inforce

Total annual premiums in-force for group insurance business rose by 11 per cent compared to the same period a year ago, amounting to S$1.09 billion.

Assets

In strengthening Singapore’s position as a financial hub in Asia4, the life insurance industry manages assets of approximately S$194.3 billion, up 12 per cent compared with a year ago.

Assets of non-investment linked business accounted for S$161.4 billion, while the remaining S$32.9 billion were assets held for investment-linked business.

Manpower in the Industry

As employment in Singapore continues to grow in the finance and industry sector5, we note an 11 per cent increase in the number of employed individuals within the life insurance industry in YTD 4Q2017.

7,429 individuals were employed by member companies, up from 6,663 staff in YTD 4Q2016.

14,793 representatives held exclusive contracts with companies that operate a tied agency force.

LOOKING FORWARD

As the life insurance industry continues to create value for people and support the Singapore economy by playing an integral role in driving the financial services industry transformation map (ITM), we look to:

  • Enhance professional standards to strengthen trust in the industry
  • Raise awareness and understanding of the protection gap, and encourage action by members to play their parts
  • Leverage digitalisation effectively to improve the lives of people in Singapore
  • Review the register of unclaimed proceeds to introduce enhancement, so that more unclaimed proceeds can be successfully paid out.

- End -  

Note to Editor: Industry results of YTD 4Q2017 are available at www.lia.org.sg/industry/performance

In Summary

New Business Sales (Weighted Basis) 

Comparison with Corresponding Period Jan  Dec 2017
S$

Jan – Dec 2016
S$ 

Change
Single Premium 1,463.9 million 1,025.1 million 43%
  Linked 395.4 million 226.1 million 75%
  Non-linked 1,068.5 million 799.0 million 34%
Annual Premium 2,624.3 million 2,261.1 million 16%
Total 4,088.2 million 3,286.2 million 24%
Comparison with Corresponding Quarter Oct  Dec 2017
S$

Oct – Dec 2016
S$

Change
Single Premium 563.2 million 294.2 million 91%
  Linked 173.8 million 67.3 million 158%
  Non-linked 389.4 million 226.9 million 72%
Annual Premium 777.3 million 661.1 million 18%
Total 1,340.5 million 955.3 million 40%
Comparison with Last Quarter Oct  Dec 2017
S$

Jul – Sep 2017
S$

Change
Single Premium 563.2 million 353.4 million 59%
  Linked 173.8 million 84.1 million 107%
  Non-linked 389.4 million 269.3 million 45%
Annual Premium 777.3 million 712.3 million 9%
Total 1,340.5 million 1,065.7 million 26%

1  Weighted new business premiums measures premiums collected on new policies by taking into account (1) 10 per cent of the value of single premium products, (2) all of a year’s premiums for annual premium products, and (3) adjusted value for products with premium payment durations of less than 10 years. The figure is calculated as follows: 10% Single Premium Insurance + 100% Annual Premium Insurance + Adjusted premium for Insurance with premium payment durations of less than 10 years.

The figure is calculated as follows: 10% Single Premium Insurance + 100% Annual Premium Insurance + Adjusted premium for Insurance with premium payment durations of less than 10 years. 

2   With effect from 1 January 2016, the MediShield Life premiums have been excluded from LIA statistics.

3   DMS insurers are registered by MAS to conduct only non-CPF business and with minimum policy size.

4   Singapore unveils plan to bolster its status as an Asian financial hub (30 October 2017). AsiaOne. Available at:
     http://www.asiaone.com/singapore/singapore-unveils-plan-bolster-its-status-asian-financial-hub
  

5   Overall jobless rate in Q3 nudges down to 2.1%: MOM (27 October 2017). Channel NewsAsia. Available at:
     http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/overall-jobless-rate-in-q3-nudges-down-to-2-1-mom-9349262