By Anoop Khanna
A Swiss Re COVID-19 consumer survey in four countries across Asia Pacific has found that interest in life and health insurance has increased since the coronavirus outbreak. Financial anxiety has also increased and the priority now is to keep insurance products if a financial sacrifice is needed.
The survey covered 2,500 respondents in Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China and Australia and found that 27% of respondents in all markets surveyed were ‘anxious’ and ‘overwhelmed’ about their finances during these pandemic times while around 40% said they were ‘stretched but coping’.
The survey respondents preferred speed, simplicity and fulfilment over financial savings when insurance policies were discussed. Among those who reviewed their insurance policies, half discovered unknown benefits, some of which could help them during COVID-19
Swiss Re Asia CEO Russel Higginbotham said, “From the survey, we can see that there is a priority to keep insurance policies in times of extreme stress like COVID-19.”
He said, “We have also learnt that consumers value service and access most highly. Chinese insurance companies seem to stand out as an example for the rest to follow, especially in how they engage their customers.”
Around three-quarters of 1,000 Chinese respondents have engaged their primary insurer or researched additional coverage since the COVID-19 outbreak. At least 75% of respondents in China said they have recently engaged their insurer or researched riders or new policies. That is in contrast to Australia, where only 14% researched or engaged their insurer.
For a majority of respondents in the four markets surveyed, selecting an insurer able to process their policies online from start to finish was a priority, with Chinese respondents topping the survey at 77%.
More Australians are willing to sacrifice their life insurance over home or car insurance, while in mainland China and Hong Kong very few are willing to forgo their life insurance payments. A quarter in Singapore and one in five in Hong Kong would let go of their home/car insurance if pressed financially.
Mr Higginbotham said, “The pandemic environment raises awareness of people’s needs for protection … This is a great moment for the insurance industry to put the customer at the centre of everything we do and deliver solutions that at last show progress in closing the protection gap and making society more resilient.”
The survey was conducted in the second week of April 2020 and the data was collected in local language via smartphone, laptop or tablet devices.
Asia Insurance Review