THE LIFE INSURANCE sector will adopt a special management process for claims related to the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to help policyholders get assistance faster.

“PLIA (Philippine Life Insurance Association, Inc.) in partnership with the Insurance Commission (IC) is adopting a special claims management process for COVID-19 related claims that will ensure relaxed requirements and expeditious settlement. This is the least our industry can do to provide assistance to our policyholders in their time of need,” PLIA said in a statement sent to reporters.

PLIA said companies in the life insurance sector have already implemented other general relief measures for policyholders such as a grace period for premium payments.

For instance, life insurer Manulife Philippines moved the deadline for filing COVID-19-related claims to June 30 from March 10 initially and extended the payment period for premiums to 60 days after due date.

Insular Life (InLife) also extended its grace period for premium payments due March to April 30 and assured all of its policyholders, except for those with accident-only policies, are covered against COVID-19.

“The life insurance industry is ready to respond to any eventualities that this outbreak may bring in terms of potential claim,” PLIA said in its statement.

It added that recently, they saw an “alarmingly” high mortality rate in the country at 8.5% on March 16 against the global average of 3.9%. However, PLIA said this went down to 6.5% as of March 23 “as the testing capacity of our health care network starts to expand with the increased availability of testing kits.”

“We remain confident that with the prudent regulations prescribed by the Insurance Commission to assure financial health of insurance companies we would continue to serve the industry and its policyholders well,” PLIA said.

Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa issued Circular Letter (CL) 2020-18 “strongly” encouraging insurers to extend the grace period of premium payments of all insurance, pre-need and health maintenance organization policies by 31 days amid the ongoing crisis.

The IC also extended the filing of 2019 annual statement and audited financial statements of insurance companies until June 1 from the initial April 30 deadline to give relief to businesses whose operations were disrupted due to the month-long lockdown for the entire Luzon until April 12.

The IC, through CL 2020-21 published yesterday, also deferred the issuance of show cause order notices “until further notice” for insurance companies that failed to meet the minimum net worth requirement of P900 million last year.

“The show cause order shall be put on hold until further notice. Nonetheless, every company affected by the circular is hereby directed to comply with the minimum net worth requirement and the minimum capital investment requirement notwithstanding the suspension of the show cause order,” the document read. — BML