Singapore: More buying life insurance online, but agents still preferred

| 14 Nov 2022

Though online purchases of life insurance products have jumped to account for 40.7% of all new policies taken up in the first nine months of 2022, agents still account for the bulk of high-premium policies.

This was according to a report by the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA) which showed that 603,116 online purchases of life insurance policies were made in this period. This is a significant jump from the 370,528 recorded in the equivalent period a year ago.

However, direct online purchases only amounted to S$106 million (US$77.2 million) – or 2.7% of the S$3.87 billion weighted new business premiums accrued by Singapore’s life insurance industry in the first nine months of this year.

Bank representatives ranked as the preferred channel for high-premium insurance policy purchases. Despite accounting for only 6.1% of new policies, they contributed S$1.4 billion, or 35.1%, of weighted new business premiums for the period.

Tied representatives came in second, contributing 30.8% of new policies and accounting for 32.6% of new business premiums.

Meanwhile, financial adviser representatives brought in 18.9% of new policies and made up 26.5% of weighted new business premiums.

Overall employment in the industry rose 4.8% year to date, bringing Singapore’s life insurance workforce to 9,145 employees. As at September 30, a total of 14,353 representatives held exclusive contracts with companies that operate a tied-agency force.

In total, 1.5 million new policies were taken up in the first nine months of 2022, representing a 12.8% year-to-date increase. This was despite the industry posting a fall in weighted new business premiums to S$3.87 billion, 5.9% lower than the S$4.1 billion recorded a year ago.

Single-premium products saw a 31.7% fall in weighted premiums in the third quarter of FY2022 compared to the same period last year. The value fell to S$514.2 million from S$752.9 million, leading to a 3.9% year-to-date dip in single weighted premiums.

The primary cause of the decline is global market volatility affecting investment-linked products, said LIA. It added that rising interest rates intensified the competition for shorter-term endowment products. 

Investment-linked products accounted for 22% of the industry’s new sales. Participating and non-participating products made up 43% and 35%, respectively.