INSULAR Life Assurance Co. Ltd. (InLife) has set aside some P500 million for its digitization efforts as it adapts to the changing environment and consumer behavior.
In an online press briefing on Tuesday, InLife Executive Chairman Nina D. Aguas said the life insurance company was set to make huge investments to boost its digital capacity last year, but this might be increased further as the need to adapt has been more evident early this year.
“Last year, we were ready to invest and we’ve set aside certain amounts to make this investment but that number may change if we want to accelerate even further our digital capability. For now, it’s in the ballpark of half a billion (P500 million) and we could do more,” Ms. Aguas told reporters.
Ms. Aguas said InLife aims to be “equally aggressive” in technology and digitization efforts as its partner bank UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc.
Ms. Aguas said the life insurer will also tap financial technology (fintech) firms, particularly those that can service InLife’s healthcare products, for potential partnerships as it ramps up its digitization efforts.
In the first few months of the year up to now, she said InLife saw a “phenomenal rise” in customers buying prepaid life insurance and health coverages available through the online selling platform Lazada and the company’s own electronic store.
“We are investing, we are doing it internally now with no partners, but that is not to say that we will not do so, because the opportunity is clearly there particularly on the healthcare side… We do not mind looking at partners who could co-invest with us,” she said.
However, in terms of looking for partners that could provide digital services for its life insurance products, she said there will be some “limitations.”
InLife had discussions with several potential fintech partners in the past only to find they are “culturally not aligned.” She noted that InLife is trying to preserve its culture as a Filipino life insurance firm.
“We are very open particularly on the healthcare side looking at partnerships… Telemedicine for example, we have partners now in telemedicine, but we would like to expand that some more,” she said.
In 2019, InLife recorded P12.67 billion in total premium income for both traditional and variable life insurance products to rank eighth in the sector.
The company, meanwhile, ranked 10th in terms of new business annual premiums equivalent (NBAPE) with P1.91 billion last year.
For this, Raoul Antonio E. Littaua, senior executive vice president and head of agency distribution group at InLife, said their goal is to maintain the levels of NBAPE they had in 2019 despite the adverse impact of the coronavirus crisis on the company and the whole economy.
“I think we have a better chance at maintaining the NBAPE so to speak, [however, in terms of variable universal life (VUL) products], that will be a bigger challenge because VUL policies, investment policies, with all the uncertainty, we don’t see that coming in at least in the next few months. Maybe down the road, who knows. All of these things will change as soon as an announcement is made that there is a vaccine already or fewer (infections),” Mr. Littaua said.
InLife booked P2.94 billion in net income last year, ranking fifth among all life insurers in the country. — B.M. Laforga