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Singapore's life insurance industry shows growth in Q4 (Amended)

SINGAPORE'S life insurance industry grew on all fronts in the fourth quarter of last year, despite a tough macro-economic environment, data on Tuesday showed.

For the three months ended Dec 31, 2016, total weighted new business sales, a growth measurement, rose 15 per cent year on year to S$955.3 million, due largely to the rise in sales of annual premium products.

Weighted new sales of annual premium products, including whole life policies, went up by 20 per cent year on year to S$661.1 million.

Weighted new sales of single premium products also went up by 4 per cent to S$294.2 million, driven by the stronger performances of linked and non-linked plans.

Sales of linked plans rose 10 per cent to S$67.3 million while sales of non-linked plans improved by 3 per cent to S$226.9 million.

Correspondingly, total weighted new business sales for the full year rose 10 per cent to S$3.29 billion.

This was driven by the 10 per cent rise in sales of annual premium plans -- the bulk of the total new sales -- to S$2.26 billion.

On the single premium side, weighted new sales for the year climbed 9 per cent, mainly due to the 15 per cent rise in non-linked plans, which was partly offset by the 7 per cent fall in linked policies' sales.

In particular, new health insurance premiums came up to S$241 million for the year, of which 86 per cent were Integrated Shield Plan (IP) premiums and IP riders. The remaining amount came from other medical plans and riders.

The Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA) said on Tuesday more than 50,000 Singapore residents bought private health insurance coverage, mainly through IPs and IP riders. As at end Dec 31, 2016, a total of 2.89 million lives or about one in two individuals here were covered, bringing the total premiums to S$1.42 billion.

Data from LIA showed that banks continued to be the main channel of distribution by total weighted premium at 38 per cent in 2016. Tied agents accounted for 37 per cent and financial advisers continued on its upward trend at 21 per cent. The remaining 4 per cent came from other products that are sold without intermediaries, such as direct purchase insurance and ElderShield.

Amendment note: This article has been amended to reflect that banks continued to be the main distribution channel by total weighted premium at 38 per cent in 2016 and not Q4 as previously stated. 

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