Growth seen for life and health insurance despite tough time

Latest product: (from left) Lor, Zakri and Allianz General Insurance Seremban branch manager Julia Wong at the launch of Allianz Cancer Protect.

KUALA LUMPUR: Amid the tough business environment, the life and health insurance sector is expected to see growth this year.

Allianz Malaysia Bhd CEO Zakri Khir said although the general insurance business on the whole declined by 7.6% in the first quarter, life and health insurance is anticipated to buck the trend and register positive growth for the year.

“We are seeing an uptick in the growth of the life and health insurance business to-date. As more people becomes aware of the importance of health and the need to keep fit, Allianz Malaysia foresees a higher pick-up rate for life and health insurance.

“The other classes of insurance will depend on the consumption and state of the economy,” he said at a briefing on Allianz Cancer Protect. The latest product from the company offers Malaysians the flexibility in managing cancer diagnosis.

According to the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia, the penetration rate for life insurance, inclusive of family takaful, stood at 54.4% last year.

The life insurance industry recorded a moderate growth in coverage in 2018, registering RM1.51 trillion in sum assured for all policies combined. This was an increase of 9.6% as compared with RM1.38 trillion in 2017.

Zakri advised Malaysians to be aware of the relevant protection offered by insurance products, adding that the penetration rate of insurance in some countries in Asean was higher than Malaysia.

“Malaysians tend to spend on other items rather than something that offers protection to them and their family. It should be the other way around,” he said.

When it comes to cancer, one of the biggest challenges is still affordability of treatment, he said.

“The economic burden brought on by the disease can be grave. And with escalating medical costs, those diagnosed with cancer are often resigned to making difficult decisions to give themselves a fighting chance to battle the disease,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Allianz General Insurance Co (M) Bhd head of sales management Linda Lor said the company is expecting 500 cases in the first year for the new product, adding that a higher pick-up rate is anticipated, moving forward.

Unlike other insurance schemes in the market which also offers some protection for cancer, she said Allianz Cancer Protect was a standalone product which solely offered cancer protection.

The product has four plans – Plan 125 (for an insured amount of RM125,000); Plan 250 (RM250,000); Plan 375 (RM375,000); and Plan 500 (RM500,000). It also offers a choice of lump sum insured amount or overseas medical treatment benefit.

“With Allianz Cancer Protect, it is all about affording the policyholder with viable options for treatment. Having options when seeking medical treatment is like a lifeline. And when you are staring down at cancer, it can be a game-changer,” Zakri said. “The product gives policyholders the option to choose the type of plan and coverage, ultimately giving them the power to choose what suits them best.”

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