Insurance industry leaders taking action

IT’S Election Day! Today, Filipinos will be choosing the next set of local and national leaders, who will help shape our future as a nation. We hope that we will elect the rightful leaders, who will steer us in the right direction and move us to action.

These two functions of a leader are very important and critical, especially when faced with a great challenge needing great solutions. When the pandemic happened, all sectors and industries, big and small, were affected. Suddenly, all eyes were on our leaders, who were also caught by surprise; not fully understanding what hit them. But since they have the power and authority, people pinned their hopes on them and expected solutions from them. While some managed to shake off the initial shock and lead their people to thrive, many failed to do so. The burden was too heavy for them to carry by themselves. A number went into a slump and eventually, gave up and closed the business, leaving millions of Filipinos jobless.

One of the industries that proved its resilience during the height of the pandemic was the life insurance industry. The life industry managed to post respectable growth, in a no-growth environment at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. It also gave income opportunities to thousands of Filipinos. While this feat can be attributed to many factors, we have to give it to the leadership of the industry. The communication, collaboration and coordination between the leaders of the Insurance Commission (the governing body of the industry) and the leaders of the different life insurance companies and associations made it possible for the industry’s quick response and continued service to the insuring public, amid the challenges and restrictions of the Covid crisis. They owned the problems and took deliberate actions to address them.

Under the dynamic leadership of Commissioner Dennis Funa, the Insurance Commission (IC) is one of the government agencies that was able to immediately migrate to digital platforms as a solution to the pressing problems of their members and the public. In response to the lockdowns and quarantines that prohibited face-to-face transactions, the IC approved and authorized remote selling through digital technology. This selling alternative, which is now a permanent option, enabled the insuring public to get their insurance protection from the comforts of their homes. It also introduced online licensing exams. Though much can still be improved, this facility enabled the agency to grow and provide income opportunities to its new members. Not only did the commission allow online submission of regulatory documents, it also adjusted some of its regulatory requirements in recognition of the pandemic’s impact to companies’ bottom line. Review and approval of new products, especially with Covid-related features, were done thoroughly but swiftly. Taking actions as a true growth partner of the life companies, distribution channels and the insuring public.

For their part, the leaders of the different insurance companies were quick to come together, going beyond company affiliations and setting aside competition, to work on their collective initiatives. They moved for the government to consider and include the industry on the list of essential sectors, allowing mobility during the lockdowns. This enabled them to put together a skeletal force to process the service requirements of policyholders, specifically the hospitalization and death claims of the Covid-stricken. With IC’s approval of virtual selling, companies were quick to put in the necessary resources in fast-tracking their digital transformation, which enabled their distribution channels to continue their mission of providing financial protection and security to the Filipinos. Not only can customers buy insurance products online, but they can do almost all of their after-sales service requirements virtually, making it faster and more convenient. Further, understanding the public’s worries and concerns, life companies have introduced products that provide for Covid-related benefits. In fact, most of them even offered compassionate coverage for all the Covid frontliners. On the other hand, to boost the engagement and productivity of their distribution channels, company leaders equipped them with the digital infrastructure and designed learning sessions, meeting venues, and incentive and recognition programs, all on digital platforms, taking action to enable and make things convenient for the policyholders and the sales force.

The leaders of the various industry associations like GAMA, LUAP, PIFAAP, ASPLI, etc., were also quick to come up with their own support programs for their respective memberships. Realizing the physical, emotional and mental stress the pandemic has brought, these associations lined up conventions, learning series and pep talks covering not only sales strategies but topics on mental health, stress management and physical fitness. With the use of the digital platform, they were able to feature and showcase speakers from different countries in their programs. It really helped their membership to adjust and adapt after hearing how other nationalities were affected and overcame the crisis. Sensitive to the financial conditions of their members, most of these associations even reduced, if not waived, the membership and convention fees in 2020-2021, allowing them to reach out and help more members of the industry. Leaders and advisors were also generous in sharing their talents, experiences and strategies across the different companies. Taking action to provide support and encouragement to their fellow practitioners.

And, of course, the agency leaders, the so-called generals in the field, stepped up to provide the necessary guidance, assistance and motivation to their team members. Though they were also reeling from the ill effects of the pandemic, they demonstrated strength and courage as they led their teams to the new rules of the business. Immediately, agency leaders learned the digital way of interacting with their members. They organized virtual meetings to check on the well-being of their members and assure them of their support, extend assistance support, extend assistance when possible and give updates on the various support programs available. When everything was calmer, agency leaders got busy making sure their members were trained and equipped to do remote and digital selling, doing virtual field training, recruiting new members into the team and engaging existing members. Though doing all these in the digital platform was a first and a bit uncomfortable for most of them, they rose to the challenge. If before, these leaders would not even dare touch their gadgets, now they are the kings and queens of the virtual world. Taking action to provide an environment of success for their people.

As with the rest, the past two years have not been smooth sailing for the life insurance industry. But, thankfully, the industry is composed of leaders who chose to put the interest and the welfare of the insuring public and the agency force at the top on their priority list. With this as the common objective, they rowed in one direction, even if it was against the tide. The result: an increase in almost all metrics even exceeding the pre-pandemic numbers!

We hope that today, we will vote for leaders who will just do what these insurance leaders did. We Filipino deserve leaders who are quick to take the right actions!


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