TECH-SAVVY millennials are the new growth drivers of the insurance industry in the Philippines, according to Sun Life Asia president Kevin Strain.
Strain, who was in Cebu over the weekend to participate in the Cobra 70.3 Ironman Asia Pacific Championship, said the Philippines is one of the markets where Sun Life (Canada) has observed a population whose awareness of insurance and financial literacy has steadily improved.
He attributed this development to the country’s growing tech-savvy population led by the millennials or those born between the early 80s and early 2000s.
“One of the interesting things about the Philippines is the use of social media and the use of mobile. I see that Filipinos have the incredible propensity to connect with each other on social media and they create a community spirit using social media. So the millennials here, I think, they lead that charge and I see more of that community-building in social media,” said Strain.
Sun Life of Canada (Philippines) Inc. is working with the digital and mobile subsidiaries of the Philippine Long Distance Co. (PLDT) to develop financial technology or “fintech” services for emerging markets, starting with the Philippines.
According to the company, the entire partnership would bring all the digital and mobile technology to full use for Sun Life’s insurance services and enable the company to reach a wider clientele.
Insurance penetration in the Philippines is still very low, according to Strain, but the company sees tremendous opportunity.
“It is still very low even compared to other markets, even compared to India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, so there is a chance for this industry to really continue to develop. We have to look for new ways to do that and find ways to reach our customer base,” said Strain.
He added that the company is adding new mobile applications for their agents and customers to continue to connect.
Insurance penetration in the Philippines last year was at 1.74 percent, according to the Insurance Commission.
According to Strain, the reason for the low insurance penetration level in the country is plainly its current economic conditions.
“The country is still growing in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP per capita. But I see so many strengths in this country in terms of long-term growth and as this GDP per capita will grow, and as people move into the middle-class, you’ll start to see more and more penetration in the insurance industry,” explained Strain.
The IC has projected that 60 to 70 percent of the population may be insured by 2020.
“I have been in Asia for four years and each year, I see the economy in the Philippines getting better and better and if you look at the economy compared to other economies in Asia, you have a great opportunity to grow faster than other Asian markets also because you are lesser impacted by China,” Strain added.
Sun Life ranked first among life insurers in the country, ending 2015 with total premiums of P32.8 billion.
The company recently launched the latest addition to its suite of wellness products called Sun Fit and Well, which offers comprehensive life and health protection from childhood all way to the golden years.
“Health and wellness are important thrusts of the life insurance business. By joining the race (Ironman Asia Pacific Championship), we hope we can inspire more people to work on their fitness foals so they can enjoy a brighter life,” Strain said.