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GWPs ascents double digit levels in first 3M in 2021

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It is evident that the insurance industry was quick to respond to the pandemic and introduce digital capabilities that have resulted in a positive outcome for the insurers and bodes well for the future. An increased demand for some life insurance and non-life insurance policies, such as term, mortgage protection and health, most likely accounted for the expansion of insurance business during the past year.

It is a noteworthy transition, since the insurance industry in Sri Lanka is a major component of the economy, by virtue of the amount of premiums it collected in 2020 of Rs. 209 bn, the value of assets on their balance sheets of Rs. 796 bn and more fundamentally, the essential social and economic role it plays by covering personal and business risks.

Sri Lanka Insurance Report by KPMG Sri Lanka provides valuable Insights into the local and global insurance market trends to support a better understanding of the insurance industry’s overall performance and understanding that the growth rates in the local market is being sustained in 2021 as well.

However, consumer spend is impacted by both the decrease in disposable income and the psychological impact of COVID-19, and hence, the value for money, and its corollary price, is the single most important factor in decision-making. The process of consumer decision-making differs as per the various regions of the global market, supported by the Gross Written Premiums (GWP) growth of 6% and assets growth of 14% compared to 2019.

In the analysis of New Reality for Insurance, the report explores seven key macro themes that KPMG believes are particularly relevant to insurers and which they must respond to in a fundamental way in order to thrive in the new reality. Further, it also sets out the top three drivers for new investment in the insurance industry in the minds of local CEOs which will be similar to the findings of the 2021 Global CEO outlook by KPMG, which are; Increase market share, On-board new digital technology to transform the customer experience/value proposition and Develop disruptive technologies that have potential to transform their operating model.

A strategy to enhance customer experience through digital transformation initiatives has worked well during the COVID pandemic for this sector. Further investments should help to improve growth and insurance penetration in Sri Lanka.

GWPs ascents double digit levels in first 3M in 2021

SL Insurance Sector Review & Outlook

The Gross Written Premiums (GWPs), the most watched gauge for the insurance industry’s health continued its ascent at double digit levels during the first three months of 2021 over the corresponding period in 2020. However, the behaviour between life and non-life segments went in the opposite directions, mirroring the industry conditions in the pandemic’s aftermath which disproportionately favoured the long-term or life insurance business. The broader insurance industry reported a combined GWP of Rs.57.42 billion in the three months to March (1Q’21), recording a 14.36% growth over the same period in 2020.

However almost the entirety of growth was brought in by the life insurance segment of which the GWPs soared by an impressive 34.13% over the corresponding period last year to Rs.29.16 billion, reflecting the continued momentum in seeking life protections with the heightened risks brought about by the pandemic.

The rise in GWPs in the life insurance segment was also supported by the considerable rise in the Decreasing Term Assurance (DTA)/Mortgage Protection Policies which grew due to increased number of loans granted by the banks and financial institutions in response to descending interest rates. For instance, the sum insured under Term insurance which captures mortgage protection policies and also provides a proxy for GWP growth showed a surge of 34.26% in 2020 to Rs. 1,557.87 billion predominantly due to increasing DTA business under group DTA policies of one life insurer. Whereas, term insurance accounted for 30.93% of total sum insured under long term insurance, becoming the second largest category of policies, referred to as, others.

In the non-life insurance segment, despite the declines seen in health and motor insurance sub-classes, other insurance classes such as fire, marine and other categories reflected an increase in tandem with the recovery in general business and factory activities which operated with their full capacity. For instance fire insurance premiums rose by a robust 15.90% to Rs.3.79 billion in the 1Q ‘21 compared to the same period last year.

Insurance assets allocation

GWPs ascents double digit levels in first 3M in 2021
Long-term insurance asset allocation 1Q’21 YoY comparison. Source: IRCSL

Insurance assets allocation nearly mirrored the investment allocation in the insurance industry where the bulk of the assets were in government securities followed by corporate debt and bank deposits, albeit the growth in the latter decelerated somewhat in response to the fast decline seen in the deposit rates while unit trust assets and assets allocated to equities advanced as highlighted earlier. While the total insurance industry assets grew by 11.81% to Rs.798.09 billion by the end of 1Q ‘21 from a year earlier, the bulk of the growth was driven by the life insurance segment.

Continuing the momentum in 2020, the life insurance industry assets grew by a robust 15.03% year on year to Rs.585.51 billion by the end 1Q’21, out of which Rs.232.08 billion or 39.63% were in government securities. Such assets were up by 13.42% from a year ago. Meanwhile there were Rs.123.84 billion in corporate debt, up 16.75% from a year ago while deposits held in banks were up by 5.71% to Rs.89.56 billion. The trio together accounted for 76.08% of the total assets in the long-term insurance business by the end of 1Q’21.

Claims and benefits showed a mixed performance between life insurance and general insurance segments which became more evident due to the pandemic. While life insurance claims continued to grow, the non-life insurance claims dropped sharply predominantly in response to the intermittent travel restrictions and below par business activity set off by the pandemic last year, resulting in less incidence for claims from motor vehicles and travel and tourism industries.

The life insurance claims and benefits which rose by 7.86% in 2020 to Rs.37.90 billion grew by a further 12.73% to Rs.9.83 billion in 1Q’21 from a year ago. While the breakdown of 1Q’21 life insurance claims isn’t available so far, the 2020 claims and benefits were mainly driven by maturity benefits which accounted for 57.17% of total claims that year, followed by surrenders which accounted for another 18.34%.

The claims incurred under the ‘other category’ consists of hospitalisation benefits, advance payments, interim payments, cash and loyalty bonus expenses, cancellations etc.

The death benefits and disability benefits accounted for the balance claims and benefits.

Management Expense Ratio

GWPs ascents double digit levels in first 3M in 2021
Expense ratio

The report also highlights how the pandemic has influenced digital adoption, driving expenses down.

As the profits of the insurance industry in recent years was supported by the declining expenses which further received a tailwind from the pandemic induced acceleration of digital adaptation throughout the insurance value chain. For instance the Management Expense Ratio which was declining from a peak of 53.5% in 2018 to 49.6% in 2019 further came down to 45.1% in 2020. By 1Q’21, this ratio further fell to 42.21% in life insurance from 45.72% a year ago in the life insurance business, mostly reflecting this ubiquitous use of digital platforms for on-boarding to customer servicing to premium servicing to claim handling since when the pandemic disrupted the conventional agency model.

Profitability of the insurance business measured through Profit Before Tax (PBT) also took a mixed picture between long term and general insurance verticals during 1Q’21 which was opposite to how the two segments delivered profits during FY2020. While the combined insurance business reported a robust 29.26% growth in PBT during 2020 to Rs.41.77 billion, the PBT of the long-term insurance business contracted by 17.89% to Rs.17.34 billion while the general insurance profits soared by 103.53% to Rs. 23.04 billion becoming the largest contributor to overall PBTs in 2020 for the first time.

This divergence in PBT resulted from the decline in surplus transfers and higher claim provisions made by major long term insurers in the life insurance segment, while the higher profitability in general insurance was possible from the lower claims as highlighted earlier. Conversely in 1Q’21, the life insurance PBT grew by 12.85% on year to Rs.4.04 billion while the general insurance PBT fell by 18.73% to Rs.3.21 billion from the same period a year ago.

Insurance penetration in Sri Lanka which is reflected by the insurance premium generated by licensed insurance companies as a percentage of GDP amounted to 1.39% in 2020. Although insurance penetration had slightly increased in 2020 compared to 1.31%, which was recorded in 2019, it is still low compared to other countries in the Asian region and may be misleading due to a drop in GDP in 2020. The industry must also address critical societal needs for affordable health care.

The report also summarises the feedback received from Leading Insurers on the front line of IFRS 17 Implementation. It covers some of the largest insurers around the world, with significant resources and bandwidth. Based on this, KPMG has listed out the hallmarks that distinguish the frontrunners who stand out from the pack and are tackling IFRS 17 with confidence.

To early analysis of data and disclosures and use it to guide data requirements & design decisions, avoiding costly rework.

·Effective use of working assumptions by defining them, keeping them under careful review and refining them as interpretations evolve.

·Staying in control by implementing effective governance and oversight from the get-go, allowing them to identify slippages and correct where needed.

·Rigorous testing by understanding the importance of testing new data feeds, new systems, new processes and new reports & results.

The report suggests that creating a greater awareness of medical insurance benefits for hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19, will lead to an increased demand for insurance products in this area. Insurers have a great opportunity to bridge the gap between coverage from existing policies and out-of-pocket expenditure towards healthcare by the public, through innovation, digitalization, and personalization. Other challenges such as cyber threats, increasing climate change and sustainability awareness will require the insurers to think out of the box in the years to come.

There is significant potential for growth in the Insurance sector, provided insurers shift towards more holistic, simpler, and personalized solutions with a customer centric product strategy and an easy payment or usage-based model. This will be attractive, especially to the millennials and Gen Z population, and promote protection within the society. COVID-19 might just prove to be the catalyst for innovation in insurance, unlocking greater levels of customer experience and personalization that has long been overdue.

The report shows at a global level Digitization, Data usage & Personalization is on the rise. Perhaps the most significant changes will be in the way that insurance products are sold, serviced and the usage of customer data. These changes will lead to much greater levels of personalization and so change the customer experience and value proposition.

Also in distribution channels, digitization will be a key theme. While the direct-to consumer (DTC) market varies greatly by country and by region, insurers have already started to explore or re-open conversations around pursuing a more omnichannel approach in recognition of the shifting willingness of customers to transact more on-line using mobiles for their insurance needs. Direct-to-consumer sales will require significant and rapid upgrades particularly in many parts of personal insurance. Brokers/agents need to be integrated at each step through digital interactions and interfaces to improve customer experience and employee productivity.

However, in Sri Lanka the regulator has banned the use of Telecommunication provider’s platforms for selling insurance, as recent as in September 2021. This raises the question as to whether the country is aspiring to progress with Insurtech or the sector is to suffer from ‘Insure-wreck’ regulations.

KPMG insurance professionals have been reflecting intensively on and widely discussing with clients the nature of the challenges and opportunities they come across. At KPMG, our multi-dimensional insurance teams utilize their deep industry experience and technical capabilities with innovative partnerships, technologies and solutions to assist the clients in managing the pace of change, convert business threats into opportunities and create a more certain future for themselves and their customers.

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