THE INSURANCE industry’s premium income picked up in the nine months to September 2019, driven by an increase in all premium types of variable life insurance products.

Insurance Commission (IC) data released in an event on Tuesday showed the overall premium income of the industry stood at P224.97 billion as of end-September, which is up 2.76% from the P218.91 billion posted in the comparable period in 2018.

The latest figure was also a pickup from the 2.62% year-on-year contraction seen in the first half of last year.

The life insurance sector accounted for three fourths or P172.05 billion of net premiums written in the period, while the nonlife sector contributed 19.56% or P44.02 billion.

The pre-need sector also saw its premium income grow by 20.6% year on year to P16.99 billion during the January-September period from P14.08 billion, accounting for 7.55% of the industry’s total.

As for health maintenance organizations (HMO), overall revenues also inched up 8.64% to P36.76 billion from P33.83 billion in the same nine-month period in 2018.

Meanwhile, the industry’s total assets reached P1.74 trillion in first nine months of 2019, up 12.25% from P1.55 trillion.

Of this total, the assets of the pre-need sector rose by 3.7% year on year to P127.62 billion from P123.07 billion in 2018, while the HMO industry recorded total assets of P37.27 billion.

IC also reported on Tuesday that the number of individuals covered by microinsurance “significantly grew” to 40 million as of end-September.

“Ultimately, as proof that more and more Filipinos are becoming aware of the importance of insurance, market penetration has reached 59.15% as of end-September,” it said in its report.

In terms of insurance density, the amount of premium per capita went up 1.16% year on year, meaning an individual is willing to spend P2,077.30 for insurance coverage.

Meanwhile, insurance penetration, or the contribution of the entire industry to the economy, stood at 1.69% as of end-September 2019.

For this year, Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa said they are expecting “steady” growth for the industry.

“It’s been growing for the past three or four years so there’s no reason for me to say that suddenly 2020… There’s no factor that will push me to say that there’s going to be a reversal… Ano lang steady growth lang. Nothing exceptional. As long as it continues to grow, happy tayo (we’re happy),” Mr. Funa told reporters on the sidelines of an event on Tuesday.

However, he added: “I fear the coronavirus would have an economic impact eh. It’s already having an economic impact. Equities are down, gasoline prices are going up although it’s good news but it’s a sign of slowdown in economic activity eh so barring external issue, I continue to be confident about the performance of the industry, the basics are undisturbed eh. Fundamentals are okay.” — BML