PANDEMIC-RELATED insurance claims payouts reached P8.23 billion in the first nine months of 2021, higher than the 2020 figure, a survey from the Insurance Commission (IC) showed.

An IC survey of 126 life and nonlife insurers, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and mutual benefits associations showed claims paid increased during the Delta-driven surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases from August to September.

“The figures we obtained reflect that the claims paid increased drastically from February to April 2021, dipped slightly during the months of May, June and July, and then spiked in August to September of the same year,” Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa said in a statement.

To compare, the commission reported P1.98 billion in total payouts in the same nine-month period in 2020, but surveyed 111 organizations.

In the third quarter of 2021 alone, total claims payouts reached P3.88 billion, nearly half of which went to death benefits.

More than 30% of the value of claims payouts represented in-patient benefits, while just under 16% went to out-patient claims.

The total number of claims in July to September period reached 260,053. The bulk or 217,675 claims went to out-patient benefits.

“Also worth mentioning is the fact that unlike in the survey for the first semester of 2021, there are no claims paid for travel and business interruption benefits during the third quarter of 2021,” Mr. Funa said.

In total, claims paid from the start of pandemic-related lockdowns in 2020 to Sept. 2021 reached P12.12 billion.

The P8.23 billion paid in the first nine months of 2021 represented 68% of this total.

“The claims paid during the first three quarters of 2021 is already more than double of the total claims paid for the year 2020,” Mr. Funa said.

Nearly half or P5.6 billion in COVID-19 claims throughout the pandemic was paid by HMOs, followed by the life insurance sector at P5.46 billion in payments.

Despite pandemic-related risks, Mr. Funa said that the insurance organizations have remained financially resilient. “Based on unaudited quarterly statistics, we noted that as of the second quarter of 2021, the insurance industry’s assets grew by 10.43% compared to the same period in 2020,” he said.

Gross premiums collected by insurance firms and mutual benefit associations rose by 28.71% year on year to P278.66 billion in the third quarter, IC reported previously. The life insurance sector alone collected P230.61 billion in net premiums, up by 33% from a year earlier. — Jenina P. Ibañez