Role of Insurance in Building Risk Resilience - Singapore DPM

| 05 Nov 2020

COVID-19 has turned into a global crisis on the healthcare, economic and social fronts. More than a million lives have been lost, and the world is facing its worst economic recession since the Great Depression, said Singapore deputy prime minister, coordinating minister for economic policies and minister for finance Heng Swee Keat. He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Singapore International Reinsurance Conference (SIRC) '2020 Re-Mind' virtual event this week.

The Next Pandemic 

“The path to full recovery will be long and uncertain. COVID-19 has underscored how little we know about the scale, complexity and inter-connectedness of risks. The next pandemic - Disease X – will not be an if but when,” he said.

The region has experienced rapid economic growth over the last few decades, which has improved the lives of billions of people and lifted many out of poverty. Asia’s growth potential remains strong, but continued growth will require greater protection against large-scale systemic risks.  

Digital Transformation and PPP

Insurance can play a pivotal role in strengthening risk resilience as the world rebuilds from COVID-19. Despite its critical role, there remains a wide protection gap in Asia. 

As Asia grows, more lives, wealth, and assets will be at stake. But with growing urbanisation and greater connectivity, the scale and complexity of risks have also grown. Yet, Asia remains under-insured, he added.

If there is a silver lining, COVID-19 has raised awareness of future risks and provided greater impetus to close the protection gap.

“I hope the insurance industry can build on this impetus, to transform the industry by riding on two shifts - digital transformation and public-private partnerships. Let me elaborate.

“The first shift is in digital transformation. The insurance industry is still largely a paper-based and face-to-face industry. COVID-19 has accelerated digitalisation. Companies have to digitalise their work processes and adapt to working remotely. Clients are now going online to purchase new insurance and file their claims. 

“Some insurers have a head start. For instance, Singapore Life, our homegrown life insurer, is a fully digital insurer that is able to underwrite, issue policies and process claims online.”

He pointed out the potential for digital transformation goes much deeper. Harnessing data from the end-to-end digitalisation of supply chains, satellite imagery, and social media will provide a more granular appreciation of economic and risk exposure. 

The second shift is in the insurance landscape is to harness public-private partnerships.

Global Asia Insurance Partnership

To emerge stronger from this crisis, the industry can benefit from stronger partnerships to develop better risk management and spur new insurance innovations and solutions. 

Mr Heng announced the launch of the Global Asia Insurance Partnership (GAIP), a tripartite partnership initiative among regulators, academia and industry, that aims to produce actionable research insights, develop policy recommendations, and co-create innovative solutions for the region.

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