SUN LIFE of Canada (Philippines), Inc. is looking to expand its reach to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Sun Life Philippines Marketing Business Support Head Christopher Cary Casipit said the company has set up two programs for MSMEs and OFWs to assist them through information campaigns, training and insurance plans.
“Those are two important segments that Sun Life would like to expand and look into in the coming months and years. We would like to encourage them to have the courage to pick up the next step for a better life. They were hit hard at this time, but we are here to partner with them,” Mr. Casipit told reporters in a video conference.
Sun Life Philippines Chief Marketing Maria Lourdes D. Lopa said a rapid survey of 500 respondents conducted by the company showed their clients were most concerned about the physical health of their families, the condition of the economy, children’s education, providing support to elders, savings and understanding the long-term impact of the pandemic to their finances.
“In that survey, we found out that our clients remained hopeful amidst the concerns, with 68% of our clients said their most dominant sentiment is hopefulness. It’s a good sign that Filipinos are remaining positive,” Ms. Lopa said.
For a “typical Filipino client,” she said the most pressing concerns were income and a tighter budget, while insufficient savings and remittances were one of the main problems cited by OFWs. Business owners were mostly worried about their revenues falling, management of cash flow, incurring debts and welfare of their employees.
Mr. Casipit said the company is mainly targeting MSMEs for the Sun Future-proof program for business owners, which could offer them a business debt cover for loans and mortgages as well as a buy-sell agreement.
For instance, he said business owners in a joint venture should make sure the personal assets will not be exposed in case something happens to the partner.
“What we are introducing is, hiwa-hiwalay (separate), compartmentalized dapat ’yung funds to make sure loans and mortgages are covered,” he said.
For small business owners who entered in joint ventures, buy-sell agreements can provide insurance cover that will take the place of a partner if he dies, ensuring the business will still be intact while dependents of the deceased individual will not be forced to join the business if they are not willing to.
Meanwhile, he said the insurer is planning to expand financial literacy among OFWs and their family members “that will make them come home for good.”
“There’s financial literacy still evolving in the country, people are not yet very much aware of the benefits of being financially secure or the benefits of insurance. But one of the opportunities that this COVID-19 has actually brought, it heightened the importance of financial services products,” Sun Life Philippines Chief Executive Officer and Country Head Benedicto C. Sison said in the same forum.
Mr. Sison said once the coronavirus pandemic crisis ends, the entire insurance industry is expected to have a huge rebound in the country.
Sun Life ranked number one in terms of total premiums written in 2019 at P39.5 billion, in terms of new business annualized premium equivalent at P9.6 billion, as well as in net income at P8.2 billion. — Beatrice M. Laforga