With the Covid-19 pandemic being a motivating factor for Malaysians, the insurance industry has been rather ‘fortunate’ to be in a position of demand as there has been an increased awareness on the importance of health and financial protection.
Sun Life Malaysia Assurance Bhd president and chief executive officer Raymond Lew said the insurance industry needs to rise to the challenge during these unprecedented times, and perform its base duty of offering protection to the people.
“All insurance players need to be more explorative and innovative to develop new offerings that suit the current economic appetite and health requirements of the people who are similarly adjusting to the new normal,” he told The New Straits Times.
On the flip-side, he said as more Malaysians continue to tighten their wallets, the likelihood for those who are truly struggling to make ends meet, to cut down or completely cut out insurance is real.
“If that happens, the industry could be in danger of experiencing a significant contraction that will be tough to recover in the mid to long term,” he said.
Raymond also noted that at the height of the pandemic, the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM), Persatuan
Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM) and the Malaysian Takaful Association (MTA) established a RM8 million Covid-19 Test Fund (CTF) to support the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) efforts to conduct more Covid-19 testing in Malaysia.
As this is an industry wide initiative, all insurance and takaful companies in the country participated in this CTF, which provides a fixed cash reimbursement up to a maximum of RM300 per test (one reimbursement per individual) for the cost of COVID-19 tests.
This is for qualified individuals, who have been referred by registered doctors, to undergo Covid-19 tests at recognised private labs and those requiring tests for hospital admission for emergency and semi emergency surgeries.
“As the industry continues to deal with challenges during this period of the new normal, it is the perfect opportunity for all players to rethink new strategies to minimise the economic fallout and serve their business purpose as best as possible.
“It is also equally important to be agile and resilient in adapting quickly to potential revisions in the guidelines issued by the government as seamlessly as possible,” he said.
From a business continuity perspective, Raymond said Sun Life Malaysia is investing significantly in new approaches to
upskill its bank partner’s sales staff and agency force towards engaging their potential clients with professionalism and genuine care.
“Our top priority remains and will always be the well-being of our clients, helping our them to achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives, we have a strong responsibility to alleviate the spread and severity of this disease,” he said.
Touching on impact, Raymond who is also Sun Life Malaysia country manager said the company was affected during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.
“But it provided the opportunity for us to be innovative in increasing the use of our digital platforms such as our mobile app, SunAccess, to ease clients’ needs to perform services like accessing their insurance and takaful plan details, making payments and submitting claims.
“Following the gradual relaxation during the Restricted Movement Control Order (RMCO), our sales momentum picked up steadily with a strong momentum built for the rest of 2020.
“We believe it will only be a matter of time before the insurance take-up rate will continue to grow as Malaysians now have a better appreciation and awareness on the importance of life insurance,” he said.
Raymond also said Sun Life Malaysia sees plenty of opportunities in the industry to help the underserved and the company will continue to focus on products that suit every Malaysian’s needs and provide them lifetime financial
“In support of this pressing matter, we will continue to create educational content and awareness campaigns including sharing the various products we have to fit all Malaysians’ financial affordability,” he said.