TAGBILARAN CITY -- Life insurer AXA Philippines is expanding its footprint in the underserved areas across the country.
Yesterday, AXA Philippines opened its ninth branch in the Visayas in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, a reflection of the company’s commitment to lift the life insurance penetration level of the country, which has yet to reach double-digit growth, top officials said.
Marie Raymundo, chief distribution officer of AXA Philippines, said they are expanding their presence outside Metro Manila to grow the insurance penetration level of the country, take advantage of the expanding middle class especially in regions with high-growth potential and the upbeat economy under the Duterte administration.
She said AXA Philippines aims to hit one million insured clients by 2020, an additional of 200,000 from its current client base of 800,000.
“These are very exciting times,” said Geoffrey Tan, chief agency officer of AXA Philippines during the press conference.
Although getting insurance is something that the Philippines as a country has not truly valued yet, Tan said that over the years, the value of financial protection and preparedness is slowly gaining traction, as people are becoming more aware of the value of long-term savings for future needs.
Tan underscored they are more bullish in expanding in Central Visayas, whose economy has grown by nine percent over the past five years, faster than the national average of 6.2 percent driven by information technology, business process outsourcing, tourism, and trade and services.
Bohol, in particular, which is an overseas remittance and tourism-led province, presents a huge opportunity for AXA’s growth. The company, according to BJ Joseph Legaspi, sales director for agency-Visayas and Mindanao, has eyed expansion in Bohol since last year.
“We have seen how businesses have grown, (here) the reason we set up a full-service office,” said Legaspi, referring to the province’s “consistently growing” overseas Filipino market that has resulted in a stronger middle class. “We want to make sure our customers are better served.”
AXA’s annual premium income in the Visayas reached P283 million last year. Visayas’ operation has been growing consistently by 30 percent year on year, Legaspi said.
Moreover, Tan said AXA’s entry to Bohol will not only boost insurance sales in the region but will also open career opportunities, especially among the millennials.
Central Visayas has about 700 financial advisors, of which 40 are based in Bohol. Legaspi said they expect the number to increase as they continue to provide financial education and engage more professionals to join the industry as financial advisors.
AXA closed 2015 with 2,678 agents, backed by 449 operations and support staff, and 602 financial executives servicing 921 Metrobank and PSBank branches. The firm offers life, non-life and health policies.
Aside from Tagbilaran, AXA is also present in Tacloban, Bacolod, Iloilo and Cebu.
Legaspi said the company will be expanding in Mandaue City in Cebu, Dumaguete, and Ormoc. The firm, which also has a strong presence in Mindanao, will be opening offices in Cotabato, Pagadian, and Tagum, among others.
AXA Philippines registered a 21-percent drop in gross premium income to P4.4 billion in the first three months of 2016 from P5.6 billion last year.
“Regular premium sales grew by 16 percent year-on-year. However, single premium sales, affected by significant market volatility in the quarter, contracted by over 40 percent from the same period last year,” the life insurer said in a report.
In 2015, AXA Philippines’ gross premium income expanded to P22.9 billion from P18.4 billion in 2014.