The onset of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) was in many ways not anticipated, and because of this very reason, its impacts were adverse.
The Insurance industry faced a multitude of changes and fluctuations ever since the pandemic began and continues to do so until today. While the broader economy recovers and responds to the pandemic, insurers are expected to face several challenges and see new opportunities opening up for them. Deloitte conducted a survey whereby it was found that about 75% of the insurers agreed that they felt helpless in dealing with the novelty of a worldwide pandemic. In comparison, the remaining 25% claimed a smooth experience through the entire occurrence.
The pandemic seems to have had a more serious effect on the developing markets than the developed ones due to limited resources or faulty and risky asset allocations. The developing markets faced increased declines in returns on equity instead of the others.
In Africa, the insurance industry plays a major contributing role in the economic development. But even then, there has been a sense of optimism that has been portrayed throughout with persistent efforts on the part of the government and regulators to cope with the financial shock that the pandemic brought about, knowing fully well how their cooperation with supervisors and regulators can shape the future of the insurance industry in Africa.
"The expected increase in intra-African trade through the AfCFTA will lead to higher insurance penetration across the region. To achieve this goal, the African Insurance Organization (AIO) is expected to work closely with governments and regulators in the region, as explained by Tope Smart, who assume the role of President of the AIO.
In India, the Covid-19 cost people jobs and was responsible for several unexpected relocations, children quitting schools and putting a halt on their education. The fact is that only about 5% of the people in India have home insurance, 12% have health insurance and very few with cyber insurance. About 90% of the Indian working population falls in the unorganised or informal sector, making life insurance, health insurance very critical for them.
The pandemic opened the consumer's eyes to a new perception of insurance and why it's a necessity in the world we live in today.
"The insurance industry proved resilient during the pandemic. The non-life industry registered 12.78% growth, and the life insurance industry registered 10% growth," says S N Rajeshwari, Member of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) in an interview to The Hindu's Business Line.
The main shift was in the aspect as to 'why' insurance is even necessary in the first place. In India, the uncertainty of the pandemic was a projection of how circumstances can be, the randomness of its happening and the importance of foreseeing and being prepared. As a result, the second half of the financial year saw a 16% business premium growth, with more people preferring to invest in premium policies as a protection against future loss of incomes.
Psychologically speaking, from the buyer's point of view, Covid-19 is responsible for directing people towards pure protection plans like term life insurance rather than pure insurance-based plans such as Unit-Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPS), leading to the rising popularity of term plans. The need for customization is another impact that has been seen among consumers whereby the main demand is for better life insurance products that come along with the benefit of personalised options such as flexibility with regards to payments, online and contactless modes of transactions being the main ones.
The prevalence of the informal economy, the limitations of health infrastructure and social protection systems were major reasons why Caribbean countries struggled to contain the levels of contamination despite taking the best possible measures to ensure the safety of the citizens. Insurers have been urged to establish cross-functional policies for quicker response rates. While these countries were quick to respond to the invasion by the new entity, the real difficulty was caused by the existence of issues within the country that weren't tackled at the right time.
In an attempt to avoid such an occurrence of unpreparedness in the future, efforts are being taken to create awareness of insurance services in light of recent events and their importance.
THE NEED TO REMAIN OPTIMISTIC
In the light of these events, it is quite evident that the insurance industries need to constantly re-evaluate and develop their policies to stay afloat and keep up with the current events. Given the rather tricky nature of business and economy in these trying times, it is essential that we remain alert and prepared as much as possible. The pandemic has given people worldwide a new meaning to security and what it means to expect the worst. And it is no doubt that regardless of the challenges, the insurance industry is very much essential for the world going forward, perhaps now more than ever.
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