Covid-19 spurs greater interest in life and medical insurance

By Chee Jo-Ey

PEOPLE are not only panic buying toilet paper, food and water but also panic shopping for life and health insurance, according to reports. The whole Covid-19 situation has rendered many people feeling vulnerable, prompting them to think of ways to protect their families.

According to global consultancy firm McKinsey, consumers’ purchasing decisions often revolve around what they feel at the moment, as they are seeking peace of mind in their choices.

PolicyStreet co-founder and COO Wilson Beh said, “We’re definitely seeing people showing more interest in medical insurance policies after the announcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO). People’s mentality right now is definitely skewed towards protecting their families.

“There is no Covid-19 clause for life or medical policies from what I’ve observed for products on our platform. What we see are more initiatives created for customers.”

For example, PolicyStreet had recently rolled out two online medical cards with starting premiums as low as RM37 per month that cover hospitalisation, surgical and so forth. To give back to its customers, they are entitled to get one month’s worth of cashback should they sign up for the medical cards.

In the digital age, consumers also have options for really quick applications without the need for a medical exam and with a minimal underwriting time. In fact, you don’t even have to meet face-to-face with your agent to buy a policy these days.

“We also worked with FoodPanda to structure a special plan for riders that offers an insurance coverage of up to RM200,000 for all riders. If the rider is tested positive for Covid-19, he or she is given an individual payout of RM2,000 and an additional RM5,000 in the event of death caused by the virus.

“During the lockdown situation right now, we are encouraged to practise social distancing and digital platforms allow one to buy a policy without even meeting and I believe after this, the adoption of insurtech will be very high,” Beh says.

But consumers are not encouraged to be panic shopping for life insurance in any circumstance as taking out a policy requires monthly financial commitment and you want to make sure that you’re getting the right amount of coverage for the right length of time.

It was reported that online health insurance had experienced sales spurts of up to 30%, with offline sales however falling behind due to the coronavirus.

According to an insurance agent who does not want to be named, it has been a challenging time for the life insurance industry and sales are affected. “Life insurance is a long-term commitment and people are more uncertain of the economic prospects so they might hold back.

“Many insurance companies have issued extensive coverage for Covid-19 which may be more of a marketing strategy. However, these offers have a time frame attached and you’re only eligible for a payout if you contracted the virus within a certain period of time,” he explains. – April 16, 2020

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