In a recent interview with Reinsurance News, Daisy Ning, Head of Life and Health, APAC (excluding China) at Swiss Re, shared her insights on the growing health insurance protection gap in the region.
Ning began by emphasising Swiss Re’s pioneering role in addressing the protection gap, stating, “Actually, we are the first company in the industry worldwide to talk about the protection gap, since maybe 10,15, or 20 years ago, and we are very glad to hear that it’s now widely adopted as a concept.”
She went on to reveal the staggering increase in the health protection gap in the APAC region since 2012, which has doubled to reach a huge $412 billion, now accounting for 46% of the global health protection gap.
Ning attributed this alarming growth to factors such as aging populations and the evolving healthcare landscape.
Turning her attention to Singapore, Ning described the unique characteristics of the market. She noted that Singapore has experienced steady growth and is relatively more developed within the Southeast Asia region.
However, she pointed out that this growth has been mainly driven by popular savings products, with a decline in the insurance market due to a contraction in single premium products. Nevertheless, Ning highlighted that the market is making a comeback, having grown by 7% in 2023, largely fueled by Indexed Universal Life (IUL) products.
Ning acknowledged the challenges facing Singapore, including high inflation, interest rates, economic slowdown, and the impact of COVID-19. She noted that these challenges have led to increased awareness of insurance products and protection needs among consumers, as well as heightened concerns about mental and physical health.
“In 2022, we have protected 166 million family members and paid 2.72 billion USD in life and health claims,” Ning said, highlighting data from the APAC region.
In an effort to extend coverage to those previously unable to obtain it, Swiss Re has partnered with a company to introduce “complete cancer care,” a product that expands cancer coverage accessibility. This initiative aligns with the company’s broader goal of sustainability, which includes extending insurance coverage to underserved populations.
Furthermore, Swiss Re has recognised the growing importance of mental health and partnered with a health and wellness provider to offer solutions targeting mental health issues.
These efforts, in conjunction with collaborations with third-party providers and innovative product designs, underscore Swiss Re’s commitment to working with the Singapore industry to bridge the protection gap, Ning concluded.