Less than half of Malaysians are insured as we become an ageing society

KUALA LUMPUR: Less than 50% of Malaysians are insured, according to insurance industry players.

They said that getting insurance is especially important for the public to shield themselves from unexpected illnesses in old age as the country moves toward an ageing society.

Insurance industry players said medical claim payouts had increased in the last two years, with a surge of 14.9%, from RM13.4bil in 2022 to RM15.4bil last year.

They also pointed to the 41.4% hike in disability payments and a 26.2% rise in medical claims.

Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (Liam) chief executive officer Mark O’Dell said those who are not insured should not wait too long, only to be met with unexpected illness later on.

“If you count Takaful and look at the number of people who are insured, only about 45% of Malaysians are insured,” he said, adding that some may have more than one insurance plan.

“If you count policies per capita, it's closer to 60%. There's still a long way to go,” he said at Liam Raya Celebration with Children's Homes and Stakeholders at Sasana Kijang here on Monday (April 22).

According to O’Dell, the number of medical claims was flat during the Covid-19 pandemic. It went down 2% in the early parts of 2020 but skyrocketed afterwards.

Now, about two years after the pandemic, he said there is a sign that medical claims are decreasing at a slow pace.

“It is still not down to where it needs to be. There's some pent-up demand from people who just didn't want to go to the hospital during Covid-19.

O’Dell also said that insurance premiums are expected to continue soaring as higher medical claims are expected to add pressure to premium increases.

With the premiums going up, he said senior citizens, especially those over 70, may be at risk if they can’t afford an insurance plan since they have limited options for medical coverage.

“We need to work together with all stakeholders. We are interested in what's in the Senior Citizens Bill and what issue they hope to address,” he added.

Meanwhile, Liam president Raymond Lew told the public to get insured, especially in light of the high medical inflation rate in Malaysia. This was also the driving factor for the increase in claims payouts.

"We encourage the Malaysian public to get themselves insured. Imagine, if someone is not insured now, what will happen to these families, where they are the sole breadwinner, being hit by all these illnesses or death or accidents?

“We wish every Malaysian is protected and (has insurance that is) tailored to their current needs," he said.

Earlier, Liam and its 16 member companies celebrated its 50th Anniversary Raya with approximately 200 children, teens and caretakers from five charitable homes.

The children and teens were presented with goodie bags containing stationery sets, water tumblers, tote bags, cutlery sets, face towels, notebooks, coin boxes, t-shirts, caps and soft toys.

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