LIFE INSURANCE FIRMS extended the grace period for premium payments to up to 91 days to give relief to clients amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

In separate press releases yesterday, Insular Life Assurance Co, Ltd. (InLife), Sun Life of Canada (Philippines), Inc. and Manulife Philippines said they are extending the grace period for premium payments for their clients.

Sun Life said the extended grace period for premium payments due from Feb. 15 to May 31 is applicable for all holders of its traditional life insurance policies, variable universal life insurance policies and pre-need plans.

For Inlife, it further extended the grace period to 91 days from the 60 days it previously announced for InLife policyholders with individual insurance with payment due dates falling within the said period.

”As the country and the whole world are gripped with urgent challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we strive to respond as quickly as we can to lessen our customers’ worries and let them focus on their health and well-being,” announced InLife President and CEO Mona Lisa B. Dela Cruz.

Manulife Philippines, in a statement yesterday, said it will also extend its premium payment period to 60 days for those due on March 16 to April 30.

The life insurance firms also reiterated that their policies will cover COVID-19.

Manulife Philippines said its policyholders who will be diagnosed with COVID-19 until June 30 will receive additional hospitalization benefit coverage of P1,500 per day up to 10 days. For those with critical illness coverage, clients could avail of the one-time diagnosis benefit of P10,000 if they tested positive for the disease.

“We are closely monitoring this situation and continuously looking for ways to make lives better for our customers during these unprecedented times. By offering COVID-19 coverage benefits, we hope to lessen our customers’ worries about its potential financial burden on their families, so they can focus instead on recovering and getting better,” said Manulife Philippines President and CEO Richard Bates.

For Inlife, COVID-19 coverage will be available for all of its policyholders, both with individual and group life policies, except for those who only availed of an accident-only policy.

It said the daily cash benefit when confined due to COVID-19 will be available to holders of its I-Heal plan, Premium Protect Series (InLife Premium Protect 1000, InLife Premium Protect, and InLife Premium Protect Plus “or any individual insurance plans with hospitalization riders.”

“Likewise, hospitalization of members of group hospitalization plans due to COVID-19 will be paid based on terms earlier announced to our corporate clients,” Ms. Dela Cruz said.

Its health maintenance organization subsidiary, Insular Health Care (IHC), will also cover claims of COVID-19 cases, despite the health agreements excluding diseases that were declared as epidemic and should not be coverable.

“IHC has basis to invoke epidemic exclusion clause. But we decided to continue to cover COVID-19 cases, setting higher limits to how much we can cover. We are inspired by the feedback we are receiving from our members who have benefited from the COVID-19 health care coverage. This is an affirmation of our positive impact on society,” IHC President and CEO Noemi G. Azura said.

Meanwhile, Sun Life said daily hospitalization benefits can be availed by policyholders of Sun First Aid and Sun First Aid Plus, including those with Hospital Income Benefit rider in their policies, if diagnosed and confined due to COVID-19.

“Those who file claims that meet the definition of a covered critical illness (CI) caused by COVID-19 will enjoy prioritized claim status,” it said in a statement.

“Beneficiaries of an insured client under a Sun Life insurance plan could also file for death benefit claim if the latter will succumb to the COVID-19 “or any of its complications,” it said.

These may be uncertain times but our country has prevailed through many challenges before. We are one with the entire Filipino nation as we forge ahead through these trying times. Let us all stay strong and keep believing that brighter days are in the horizon,” Sun Life CEO and Country Head Benedicto C. Sison was quoted as saying.

The life insurer also urged all of its policyholders to review their agreements and “if they are entitled to benefits relating to COVID-19.”

The firms have also opened its digital facilities to expedite processing. For Sun Life, it said it will accept digital copies of requirements when making insurance claims but will be subjected to verifications while InLife has its individual “customer portal” to do their transactions, including request for “policy loans, claims, maturities, top-ups, fund withdrawals, fund switching and premium payment.”

The Insurance Commission earlier allowed insurance firms to launch their own initiatives to provide additional benefits or coverage to clients affected by COVID-19, without the need to secure prior regulatory approval.

The regulator also urged all insurers, mutual benefit associations and health maintenance organizations to voluntarily waive some provisions on contracts and agreements to provide relief for clients during the public health emergency. — B.M. Laforga