Survey: Covid-19 fuels health awareness, appetite for insurance

A survey by Manulife Asia Care found that 41% of 300 respondents perceived the pandemic to be getting more serious in the next 6 months


THE growing concerns of the Covid-19 pandemic have prompted many life insurance policyholders in Malaysia to adopt a healthier lifestyle and a greater use of digital technology.

A new survey by Manulife Asia Care, involving 300 insurance customers, found that 41% of the respondents perceived the pandemic to be getting more serious in the next six months.

Additionally, 49% of the respondents found ways to be more physically healthy than before the Covid-19 outbreak and 32% started tracking their mental health.

Meanwhile, 37% said they would continue to find ways to maintain their physical health in the next 18 months and 21% would continue to track their mental health status.

Manulife said greater use of technology was evident and more pronounced during the pandemic among the Malaysian respondents compared to those surveyed across the region.

“Along with the increased interest in digital, was a move towards more regular management of personal finance. The Malaysians surveyed also showed a growing appetite for insurance,” it said in a statement recently.

According to Manulife, 52% of the respondents said the pandemic had caused them to review and manage personal finance more often than before the outbreak, as there was also a growing appetite among them for insurance.

Manulife Insurance Bhd CEO Lee Sang Hui said the importance of being financially protected has increased among the people during times of crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

“During such uncertainties, insurance coverage is an important financial product to have, thus the life insurance sector is expected to remain resilient in such a challenging environment,” he added.

Lee also noted that life insurance penetration rate in Malaysia was less than 5%, far below the rates in markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore, making Malaysia among the region’s underinsured markets.

He said it was interesting that in Malaysia, 63% of the insurance customers surveyed said they planned to buy new additional insurance in the next 18 months, with hospitalisation (26%), accident (24%), life (23%), health (21%) and critical illness (21%) being the main new products considered.

Manulife highlighted that Covid-19 has greatly accelerated trends that are already in place, notably digitisation in lifestyle.

“The acceptance and adoption of these trends provides another reason to believe that the changing habits will, in part at least, be permanent.

“In Malaysia, digitisation and use of smartphones was already enabling greater numbers of Malaysians to get access to financial services and other online tools,” the group said.

It also pointed out that the pandemic has helped to reinforce the value of digital tools and services in Malaysia.

The survey revealed greater willingness among Malaysians to switch from offline to shopping online (65%), use online services for payment, shopping and food delivery (76%) and, in particular, use online tools for news (66%) and socialising (58%).