While the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) stopped face-to-face sales of life products, insurers gained from the regulatory relief allowing nontraditional transactions mostly made online as well as greater interest among customers fearing getting sick or dying due to COVID-19.

“Prior to the ECQ, sales of life insurance have still predominantly been done face-to-face via our licensed financial advisors. And while there are online channels that offer life insurance, these are still in the earlier stage of maturity compared to the long-established agency channel,” Sun Life Philippines chief executive and country head Benedict Sison told the Inquirer recently.

“But with the ECQ, face-to-face selling through licensed advisors had to stop for about four weeks. During this time, we saw sales of our online insurance products on Lazada increase significantly as this became a very convenient alternative to avail of our products. This is also because of the heightened feeling of anxiety among consumers, which led them to appreciate and be more proactive in availing of life insurance for the security it provides,” said Sison, who is also president of the industry group Philippine Life Insurance Association Inc.

Last week, Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa allowed life insurance companies to sell through nontraditional channels “during the ECQ period or any extension thereof, or until June 30, 2020, whichever comes later,” as the Insurance Commission (IC) had acknowledged that “face-to-face” transactions would be “impractical” during the lockdown given physical and social distancing restrictions.

In the case of Pru Life UK, senior vice president and chief customer marketing officer Allan Tumbaga told reporters via Zoom last Friday that “we saw more interest—traffic as well as transactions—digitally.”

“We saw that the demand for pure digital [products] increased, in terms of views on our website and transactions. At the same time, there is a queue from our agents because their customers are asking them to be more digital—that’s what we’re working on,” Tumbaga said.

Tumbaga noted that over 90 percent of Pru Life’s agents were currently working from home due to the lockdown.

As for Sun Life, Sison said that “the numbers from our online channels still do not match the numbers that we used to generate from our advisors.”

“This is because products available online are limited to those with a certain maximum coverage and when it comes to buying life insurance, there is still a preference among many to have face-to-face contact. Thankfully, the IC recently allowed our advisors to conduct virtual face-to-face selling. We are happy with this devolvement because this now allows us to offer a wider range of insurance solutions to Filipinos at this time when they need it the most,” Sison said.

“With our advisors now able to sell virtually, sales have been steadily picking up and I am confident we will see sales back to pre-ECQ levels in the next couple of months because insurance is really a very beneficial product to have at this time,” Sison added. INQ

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