Insurers’ group cites opportunities to grow microinsurance segment

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The Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association, Inc. (PIRA) is optimistic to expand the microinsurance segment to grow insurance penetration in the country.

In a press briefing, PIRA Executive Director Michael F. Rellosa said there is a big opportunity to grow the microinsurance industry to help more Filipinos get insured.

“We see a lot of opportunities to grow the microinsurance segment. Fist of all, Senator [Cynthia A.] Villar is drafting a bill to come up with new products for agri insurance not only crops but also for livestock,” Mr. Rellosa told reporters on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

Ms. Villar filed on March 20 Senate Bill No. 1759 or the Free Index-Based Crop Insurance Act of 2017 to strengthen the resiliency of small farmers against calamities by establishing a program and framework for a free weather index-based crop insurance.

“The government is now opening up to the private sector the agricultural insurance so that’s going to be an opportunity for us. We’re creating new products for our farmers,” Mr. Rellosa said, noting that the state-owned Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. is currently the sole firm which offers crop insurance for farmers.

Mr. Rellosa added that the micro-agri insurance is the first step in diversifying microinsurance products, floating the idea of micro-health and micro-burial insurance products.

Aside from this, PIRA said Filipinos are now seeing the value of getting insured as the country is getting more prone to calamities.

“Since we’re a calamity-prone country, people are realizing the need for protection, so we’re expecting more Filipinos to avail of more products to shield them from calamities,” Mr. Rellosa noted.

PIRA is optimistic that more non-life insurers will start offering microinsurance products in the future, as there are only four firms who are currently offering it such as Malayan Insurance Co., Inc. and Pioneer Insurance & Surety Corp. among others.

“In the [Southeast Asian] region, the Philippines is one of the countries with very low penetration ratio or the total premiums in a country versus its gross domestic product, which is at [approximately] 3%,” he said. “We’re trying to change that.” — Karl Angelo N. Vidal