THE insurance industry in the Philippines still has a huge room for growth with the industry penetration currently just at 16 percent.

The figure, which already include microinsurance, came from Philippine American Life and General Insurance Company (Philam Life) chief executive officer Bobby Madrid, who was in Cebu on Monday to lead the foundation-laying ceremony of the company’s 16-storey corporate tower in Cebu Business Park.

Philam Life held 20 percent of the insurance market in 2013 and ranked second after Sun Life Financial.

Based on 2013 data, Philam Life grew by 31 percent from its 2012 performance. In 2013, it had a total premium income of P19.967 billion, higher than the P15.291 billion in 2012. Figures for 2014 are still not available.

For the whole industry, the Insurance Commission said earnings were at P200 billion worth of life and non-life insurance premiums in 2013. This exceeded IC’S target of P150 billion.

Of the figure, the life insurance sector recorded P1.698 billion of total premium income while net premium income of the non-life insurance sector was at P31 billion.

Boosting the premiums, Madrid said, is the Variable Unit Linked (VUL) product, a non-traditional life insurance plan with benefits directly linked to the performance of the units of the investment fund chosen.

In Philam Life, 90 percent of the policies are under VUL, while the remaining 10 percent are traditional life insurance policies.

One of Philam Life’s leading VUL products is the Health Invest, with a critical illness rider that insures a person for 56 illnesses.

Although the premium is dependent on the age of the insured, Philam Life director of agencies for Visayas and Mindanao Rolan Enriquez said investment can go as low as P2,000 per month.

In Cebu, Enriquez said its sales have been growing, even higher than the national figures. However, he did not disclose figures.

Officials said the twin calamities in 2013 have reinforced the need for insurance.

“Education in insurance have improved a lot. Market penetration is bigger and people see insurance now as a necessity than an expense,” Madrid said.

Philam Cebu has 600 sales employees.