Forum showcases a thriving microinsurance sector
government and the private sector work together with
microinsurance mutual benefit associations to bring
microinsurance to millions of Filipinos. (Upper left to
right): RIMANSI Chairman Emeritus Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip;
Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed; Department of Finance
Undersecretary & Chief Economist Gil Beltran. (Lower left to
right): Philippine Insurance Commissioner Atty. Dennis Funa;
BPI AMTC Chief Investment Officer Smith Chua and RIMANSI
President Silvida Antiquera.
March 25, 2021
SAN PABLO CITY –
More than 20 million Filipinos are enjoying the benefits of mutual
microinsurance, providing protection to individuals with low incomes
especially through these challenging times.
Atty. Dennis Funa credits microinsurance mutual benefit associations
(Mi-MBA) in successfully bringing microinsurance to 26.66 million
individuals, reaching 69% of the country’s total insurance outreach.
“MBAs have been very effective in providing assistance to millions
of beneficiaries in times of crisis,” said Atty. Funa.
In late January 2021, over
400 microinsurance stakeholders joined the National Microinsurance
Forum hosted by the Microinsurance MBA Association of the
Philippines Inc. (MiMAP, also known as RIMANSI) via Zoom and
Facebook Live. With the theme ‘Thriving in the New Normal,’ the
forum featured various responses of the local microinsurance sector
to provide sustained, timely and appropriate delivery of much needed
microinsurance services and support to low-income Filipinos, amid
the COVID-19 pandemic and other natural calamities in 2020. Last
year, MiMAP members collectively settled 66,847 claims amounting to
Citi Foundation and Citi
Philippines are key partners and supporters of mutual microinsurers
in the country. Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed opened the Forum by
calling on participants to adopt an optimistic and proactive outlook
in 2021 and beyond.
“You should not be
discouraged as we will return to normal. Therefore, it is essential
that you stay the course and find a way for your business to survive
and grow. You have made sizeable investments in your respective
businesses, in terms of time, effort and money, and you should
believe in your ability to turn things around,” said Ahmed.
The forum likewise
provided an opportunity for government and private sectors to
discuss and reflect on lessons learned in 2020. The event
highlighted a strong sense of mission among the stakeholders that
pushed them to take bold moves, independently and collaboratively,
and put in place a business environment conducive for a thriving
Setting the Backdrop for
Sustained Action and Growth
reforms to stimulate economic growth, facilitate social protection
and mitigate health risks. From negative growth in 2020, the
Philippine economy is projected to recover with a Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) growth rate of 6.5 to 7.5% and 8 to 10% in 2021 and
2022, respectively. This positive note was conveyed by Department of
Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran as he outlined the Philippine
government’s key reforms and measures to stimulate economic growth
while addressing the continuing health risks posed by COVID-19.
Among these measures
include making vaccines against COVID-19 available to Filipinos.
Department of Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire
outlined the key features of the National COVID-19 Vaccine
Deployment Plan, wherein vaccination is expected to start in 2021
for identified priority groups with up to 50 million individuals
targeted to be covered in year one; and a 100% population
vaccination level to bring about ‘herd immunity’ is projected to be
reached by 2023.
Reforms in the financial
system citing initiatives taken by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)
have also supported the banking system enabling banks to come out of
the 2020 crisis in good financial health. Smith Chua, Chief
Investment Officer of BPI Asset Management and Trust Corporation
(BPI AMTC) presented the Philippine investment market outlook and
further added that while the Philippine yield curve was lower in
2020 than in 2019, it has shown a sustained positive upward track
until the end of the year.
As an actively responsive
regulatory agency, the Insurance Commission also came out with
several measures among which is the issuance of a Circular Letter
2020-29 that classifies MBAs as health insurance providers and part
of the health frontline services. This issuance granted MBA
employees freedom of mobility to transact business, especially
claims settlement, during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)
Access to technology and
network of technology service providers. Concerned about how to
sustain timely delivery of services amid the pandemic, Mi-MBAs were
quick to explore and adapt to available technologies. Simple,
affordable and appropriate technology-driven systems and procedures
were used to communicate and continue daily operations of marketing,
enrollment of new policy holders, renewal of policies, claims
settlement and other member concerns.
CARD MRI through its
insurance service providers, CARD MBA, CaMIA and CARD Pioneer
Microinsurance Inc., shared how it addressed the challenge of
lapsation of 340,000 microinsurance policies in mid-2020. They
launched a text blast campaign to send out messages to inform and
guide policy holders on decisions and steps, such as policy renewal
through a text reply of yes or no.
Drawing Strength from the
Mi-MBAs, also referred to as “mutuals”, draw its strength from
mutual sharing, support and responsibility among members, a
characteristic best mobilized where there is trust and transparency.
The forum accorded an
afternoon’s session to exchange experiences and insights on how
membership engagement has been activated and further strengthened.
As a variety of strategies emerged, Mi-MBA resource speakers
highlighted the value of having a two-way communication facility
between members and the Mi-MBA, and between field staff/coordinators
and management. This facility has become the means to inform and
update members, invite, receive and respond to feedback, submit and
exchange documents, and convey mutual support and customer care.
Such facility can be as sophisticated as the CARD MBA’s use of a
chatbot where member queries and comments can be received and
responded to by artificial intelligence, or the simpler text
messaging phone line of ASKI MBA, or TSPI MBA’s FB chat groups, or
CARE MBA’s e-kumustahan in Zoom.
An effective communication
facility has resulted in the members’ enhanced perception of the
importance of microinsurance and their membership in the MBA, such
as having a dependable safety net to fall back on. This positive
perception has in turn increased member satisfaction and support to
MBA activities and transactions.
Indeed, by the end of
2020, MiMAP saw its collective membership going up by 5% to 7.2
million members in 2020 from 6.86 million members in 2019; total
outreach also increased by 7% from 24.94 million insured individuals
in 2019 to 26.71 million in 2020.
Mission-Focused. When it
came to the industry’s threats and opportunities, it was clear that
the pandemic sparked immediate action among Mi-MBAs. Wired to focus
on the mission, a Mi-MBA will do everything in its power to deliver
prompt and promised service to a member in need. This commitment
drives Mi-MBAs to be innovative, creative and adaptable.
Despite the threat of
business losses and closure and thus the large volume of claims, 1
Cooperative Insurance System of the Philippines, Inc. (1CISP) shared
that they decided to go ahead and launch its business interruption
insurance product in April 2020. 1CISP incurred losses as they had
expected but learned a lot and remained hopeful for increased
product uptake starting in 2021. CARD MRI in partnership with
Pioneer Life also completed the design of a business interruption
insurance and are set to pilot as soon as the Insurance Commission
completes its review and gives approval on this new product.
Before the pandemic,
Mi-MBAs proudly settled claims within a day upon receipt of notice.
It was only a few months into the lockdown that many Mi-MBAs were
able to settle claims in one day, using a blended approach of
technology and manpower resource. Claim documents were sent as
e-photos over FB messenger and approved claims were paid via online
cash payment facilities. In far-flung areas with limited internet
connectivity, staff traveled on motorbikes to provide the needed
support in claim processing.
Thriving for Greater
The demonstrated ability
to thrive in the new normal has energized the sector and further
emboldened it to do more. This was reinforced by Asian Development
Bank’s (ADB) Principal Financial Sector Specialist, Arup Chatterjee,
who cited the Philippines to be a fitting global ambassador for
microinsurance during his talk on the state of the Asia-Pacific
“The Philippines can
provide valuable lessons to the world through its pool of
well-established microinsurance service providers brimming with rich
microinsurance experiences and achievement,” said Chatterjee.
The forum has also
identified areas where more work awaits. To cite a few,
microinsurance penetration is still low as inclusion of other
vulnerable groups such as workers from the informal sector have yet
to be considered and pursued. More creative community-based risk
sharing strategies and new product offerings need to be studied and
tested to dispel ‘uninsurability’ of some risks involving certain
vulnerable groups and situations. There remain opportunities to tap
the full benefits of digital technology and capacity to better
understand and serve the market, such as modernizing core systems
and use of data analytics.
“The crisis has pushed us
to strengthen our capabilities. With our collective response, we
have elevated the quality and responsiveness of our services and
increased member satisfaction and engagement,” said MiMAP President
& KMBA General Manager, Silvida Antiquera. “We shall continue to
give our best, break new grounds, and work together to ensure that
microinsurance provides a sturdier and wider safety net to more
people,” Antiquera added as she expressed MiMAP’s continuing
commitment of service to the country, and the world.
Microinsurance Forum 2021 was co-sponsored by 1CISP, BPI AMTC, CARD
MBA, PhilCare, Pioneer Life, Inc., and RMSI.