Coverage for life, accident, and health are their top 3 priorities
Photo shows that with the lowering of alert level of the pandemic, people started to flock in a mall in Makati to prepare for the Holiday shopping (Photo from THEPHILBIZNEWS/MAS)
There is no denying that the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the lives of everyone we know. It has caused anxiety as health and safety concerns coupled with economic and income uncertainties weighed down to all the people we know, setting back a broad spectrum of businesses.
Despite the easing up of the quarantine measures and lowering down the alert level that led to the opening of the economy, the threat of the COVID-19 remains.
Needless to say, the new COVID variants discovered from time to time should be taken seriously as these variants pose danger and risks to one’s health and life.
Consequently, more and more Filipinos have become financially and emotionally vulnerable by the pandemic. In it is just prudent for others to avail of the insurance policies, with coverage for life, accident, and health as their top three priorities. The ongoing presence of COVID-19 has made them aware that they are unprepared for the financial consequences of contracting the virus, such as hospitalization and related medical expenses, unemployment and the incapacity to work, or in worst-case scenarios, death.
According to a 2021 Nielsen Consumer Study, the number one insurance product that the respondents purchased was life insurance (63%). Tied for second place at 38% are accident and health insurance policies, and coverage for hospitalization and related medical expenses. The study also reveals that these purchases were motivated by overwhelming feelings of insecurity and uncertainty caused by the lingering pandemic.
Succumbing to a severe medical condition, and not just COVID-19, is the first concern of Filipinos today, says the report. They also have to manage higher levels of stress and bouts of depression. Their financial and mental health statuses are also closely connected. Lower income earners have suffered unemployment and/or salary cuts, and are resorting to loans just to meet basic requirements like food. Meanwhile, those in the middle class, who still have sufficient income, are worried about the depletion of their resources and the loss of opportunities that can increase their revenues.
AXA Philippines CEO Rahul Hora elaborates on the Filipino’s vulnerability to risk: “The Philippines as a market has always been highly underinsured, especially when it comes to medical insurance. Almost 50% of the medical expense in the Philippines is out-of-pocket (OOP), which means that Filipinos have no insurance to cater to that kind of a medical expense. COVID has only further brought this particular concern top of mind for our customers, and that’s what we realized in the last two years.”
Research does confirm that hospitalization and related expenses can become heavy financial burdens that the average Filipino finds hard to carry, even for those admitted in hospital charity wards. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reports that, from January 2021 to June 2021, the virus was the fifth leading cause of death in the country.
In a study conducted at the Philippine General Hospital, published in April 2021, and which classified 76.99% of the subjects under charity services, the highest OOP expenses for COVID-19 patients over a 14-day stay were for the 19-30 age group, amounting to Php 44,428.63. Patients less than 60 years old paid an amount ranging from P25,899 to P44,428.63, while hospitalized senior citizens older than 60 years old forked out for medical expenses ranging from Php 4,005.60 to Php 32,920.20.
The cost of a two-week stay in private hospitals, which includes confinement, can be safely assumed to be far greater. Regardless of whether the patient stays in a private or public hospital, the expenses they will spend for are not expected to decrease. Neither do they have the luxury of choosing the hospital of their confinement during COVID-19 surges.
The threat of medical impoverishment has increasingly compelled Filipinos to invest in insurance, or at least consider it. Supporting the Nielsen Consumer Study is the Insurance Commission stating that the 29.4% growth of the insurers’ aggregate bottom line in the first half of 2021 could be attributed to the public’s interest in insurance coverage and the prolonged pandemic.
These issues have not gone unnoticed by the insurance industry: “As an industry in general, we are going the extra mile to serve more Filipinos,” says Hora. “Many Filipinos are beginning to understand that insurance can shield them from the devastating financial and emotional consequences of hospitalization, a breadwinner’s untimely demise, or a car crash on the road. We will be here with them during this crisis and other adversities that might come.”
To make insurance more accessible and understandable, AXA offers “more favorably priced protection for more Filipinos, especially the large number of those who see the importance of insurance, but who still find most insurance products too expensive,” says Hora.
For example, AXA has designed insurance coverages for certain specific situations that the underinsured or uninsured Filipino might not even realize they need. Hora gives one example: “Because the elderly are more likely to die of any disease, some of our health insurance solutions cover policyholders up to the age of 75, with one even extending coverage up to 100 for critical illnesses, although most health plans cap at age 65.”
AXA’s personal accident insurance also provides monetary compensation for policyholders who lose their lives or suffer permanent bodily disablement because of an accident for a very affordable price. “Nobody wants to think about an accident happening to them but they can occur, inside or outside your home,” explains Hora. “If it causes the death of the breadwinner, an accident insurance policy can prevent destitution to their loved ones. Now if it causes the loss or major damage of a bodily part, such as limbs, hands, feet, and eyes, the policyholder can still be shielded from the financial blows that come with these kinds of injuries.”
Another form of protection that AXA offers is home and condo insurance. The value of ensuring the safety of property also rose during the time of COVID-19 as the lockdowns caused a majority of the workforce to work remotely. Storms and calamities, which are all too frequent in the Philippines, also reinforced to the homeowners the need to protect their investment.
“We are shifting to a work from home or hybrid situation,” Hora elaborates. “In these times especially, if disaster strikes a home, it does not just mean loss of property, but possible lengthy loss of income as well. A home is often the culmination of lifelong hard work, which makes it for many irreplaceable, and insuring it essential.”
One reason why AXA augmented its digital reach is to respond to the concerns and questions of many people struggling with the prospect of medical impoverishment. They learn everything they need to know about insurance, for life and general insurance products by interacting with an AXA agent without having to leave the safety of their homes.
Meanwhile, the award-winning Emma by AXA PH app enables policyholders to immediately access and make transactions on any of their insurance policies, such as make payments, make top-ups on investment funds, or simply keep a copy of their policy. The speed and convenience by which the app provides important information can make a difference in how the policyholder weathers a crisis such as an accident or a medical emergency.
Filipinos now demand this agility because the pandemic has made them realize the value of insurance especially during uncertain times. Hora says, “Early action is necessary, especially for those with young children. Each Filipino’s need is unique. The best way to assess the best insurance coverage that can keep you more than adequately protected is to consult with the agents of an insurance company that can assess the coverage customized for you, your loved ones, and everything else that matters to you.”