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Pandemic increases interest in retirement planning

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THE PERCENTAGE of Filipinos who started thinking about their retirement plans was the highest in Asia as the coronavirus pandemic pulled down household incomes, a survey by Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. (Phils.), Inc. (Manulife Philippines) showed.

Around 90% of Filipinos surveyed recognized the importance of getting started on retirement planning amid the ongoing health crisis, Manulife Philippines said in a press release on Tuesday, citing the results of its latest “Manulife Asia Care Survey” which assessed the common concerns and priorities of 4,000 people across Asia.

This was the highest percentage recorded in the region and compares with the regional average of 73%.

It said the high level of interest showed “increased focus on achieving financial security amid uncertainty” even as 20% of the Filipino respondents said they were concerned about their declining incomes amid the crisis.

Filipinos have also grown more conscious of their health, with 97% of respondents saying they started self-monitoring.

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Most or 75% of the Filipino respondents tracked their body weights, which was the highest percentage in the region, along with Malaysia. This was followed by checking the quality of sleep, blood pressure and the number of steps taken.

“We see that the pandemic has turned the spotlight on health and retirement for many Filipinos. Amid all the uncertainty, they are finding ways to take more control of these aspects of their lives,” Richard Bates, president and CEO of Manulife Philippines, was quoted as saying.

Almost all of the 520 respondents in the Philippines said they made an effort to adopt healthier lifestyles, with 69% saying they started exercising and 61% improving their diets.

This was higher than the regional average, Manulife Philippines said.

Meanwhile, around 87% of the respondents said they plan to buy a new insurance product over the next six months, above the 71% average in Asia, and are looking at products related to health, hospitalization, life cover, retirement and children’s education.

Mr. Bates said Filipinos are now more inclined to have their insurance policies managed via digital platforms, with 70% of the respondents saying so, but many still prefer to speak with insurance agents as 53% recently conferred with an agent about getting insured.

“The Philippines remains one of the most under-insured markets in the region, but technology is enabling more Filipinos to get the protection they need,” he said.

Insurance penetration in the country or the overall contribution of the sector to the economy remained at 1.69% as of September 2020.

Meanwhile, insurance density or the amount of premiums per capita went down by 4.21% to P1,989.94 as of the same period. — B.M. Laforga

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