INSURANCE PAYOUTS related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have reached P326.95 million as of May 8, a survey conducted by the Insurance Commission (IC) showed.

“According to survey results, the life and nonlife insurance companies, mutual benefit associations (MBAs) and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) all have displayed financial resiliency in the handling and payout of COVID-19-related claims. The respondents honored their contractual obligations to their customers, and some have even gone above and beyond said obligations by paying ex gratia settlements,” Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa was quoted as saying in a statement.

The survey, conducted from April 16 to May 8, showed the insurance industry received P308.16 million in COVID-19-related claims which were settled in full.

However, the life insurance and nonlife insurance companies, MBAs and HMOs appear to have paid more than this amount as they said they made P307.26 million in payments due to contractual obligations and P19.68 million were paid ex gratia or payments made outside the terms of the policy.

Of the amount, medical benefits comprised the bulk or P258.8 million of the COVID-19 claims paid. In-patient benefit claims reached P124.3 million, of which P110 million were paid out.

“Critical illness claims came second, with an aggregate amount of P23.33 million paid. However, the HMO industry reportedly paid more than P73 million (in critical illness) based on tabulated survey responses. Said industry has not yet clarified this disparity as of this writing,” the insurance regulator said.

Medical benefit payouts related to COVID-19 included outpatient benefits (P74.89 million), daily hospitalization claims (P870,000) and medical reimbursement benefits from life insurance worth P130 million.

By sector, the HMO industry settled the most medical benefits at P231.36 million or 89% of the total, followed by the life insurance industry with P14 million and nonlife insurance industry with P13 million.

Meanwhile, payouts for death benefits reached P61.54 million, of which P59 million were paid by life insurers.

Other coronavirus-related claims for benefits such as travel inconvenience, travel cancellations and delays stood at P6.61 million, of which P4.45 million were paid by life insurers.

“This commission noted that ninety-three (93) respondents — a substantial majority — expressed willingness to consider and/or continuously provide coverage for pandemic cases in the future. Said respondents believe that they have an obligation to provide this critical and much-needed assistance to their clients in times of need,” IC said.

When asked whether they will consider providing pandemic coverage in the future, 22 out of the 30 life insurance companies said “yes” while eight answered “no.”

Out of the 54 nonlife insurers surveyed, only 26 said they will look at adding pandemic coverage. Twenty-six out of the 33 MBAs surveyed expressed willingness to consider pandemic coverage in the future, along with 19 out of 25 HMOs that participated.

“On an encouraging note, the COVID-19 pandemic has also positively influenced the four respondent industries in terms of willingness to consider providing pandemic coverage in their products in the future. This will be to the advantage of future insurance and HMO customers, as well as MBA members,” Mr. Funa said.

The insurance industry’s premium income rose five percent to P304.639 billion in 2019 from P290.151 billion in 2018.

The IC conducted the survey to assess the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry and how they have responded to COVID-19-related claims.

As of Thursday, the Health department said total COVID-19 deaths in the Philippines stood at 984 while confirmed cases have reached 20,382. — Beatrice M. Laforga