Mental health is the top of consumers’ concerns as a result of Covid-19 along with increased demand for digital gateways to select and buy insurance, according to Swiss Re’s 2021 APAC consumer survey.
The re-insurance firm commissioned two annual consumer surveys across Asia-Pacific, the first in April 2020 and a second in January to February this year, to help insurers better understand consumer sentiment. Click here to see the full report.
This year’s survey included 7,000 respondents across 12 markets, including Australia and New Zealand.
The results provide insights into how the virus has affected consumer behaviour, implications for the insurance industry, and how insurers can better respond to evolving needs.
“It is evident that despite vaccine rollouts across the region, the level of financial anxiety remains high, consistent with what we heard when we first conducted this survey,” says Russell Higginbotham, CEO Reinsurance, Swiss Re Asia.
“Covid-19 has exposed shortfalls in consumers’ insurance protection, where increasing health concerns have translated into strong health insurance premium growth in several markets.”
Rising awareness of health and mortality risks are key factors that drive strong growth in risk and health insurance premiums,” says Irina Fan, Head Insurance Market Analysis at the Swiss Re Institute.
“For instance, in 2020, health insurance premium maintained double-digit growth of 10.5 percent in APAC, which is in contrast to the  Global Financial Crisis, when health-related premium growth slowed down sharply.”
Health insurance remains top of mind for consumers, with medical reimbursement and critical illness ranking as areas consumers are keen to seek more protection in the future, says the firm.
…We are seeing clear evidence that lifestyle factors affect our health, and insurance companies play an important role in promoting wellbeing…
The stress of the virus has also made insurance customers more price sensitive. Across all the markets, 80 percent of respondents said price is the most important factor in insurance purchase decisions (up 5 percent from 2020).
The survey also highlights how the virus has promoted more proactive management of personal health and increased emphasis on mental wellness.
Across the region, 71 percent of respondents indicated they are practicing stricter personal hygiene habits, 50 percent implementing healthier diets, 48 percent getting more exercise and 40 percent practicing better sleeping habits.
“We are seeing clear evidence that lifestyle factors affect our health, and insurance companies play an important role in promoting wellbeing,” says Michael Rolf, the firm’s Head Solutions Groups Life & Health Asia.
“Mental wellbeing, sleep, exercise and nutrition were all highlighted in the survey. These are a few of the lifestyle factors we refer to as ‘The Big Six’ because they present many opportunities for our industry – alternative data use, better customer journey and engagement, an ability to improve customer health, and the possibility of underwriting in an entirely new way.”
In addition, the report notes that consumers see digital access to process transactions and speed of claim processing/payment as standard when looking for policies.
The increased use of health apps is an area where insurers can play a more important role in engaging consumers, says Swiss Re.
The survey shows in the past six months, 39 percent of the total insurance policy purchases were completed using insurers’ online platforms or via an app.
The firm expects digital insurance purchases to continue to see an uptick in APAC, with half of respondents interested in purchasing through an insurer’s website or app.