Generali Life Assurance Philippines, Inc. targets a 40-percent hike in gross premiums this year, to be driven by more tie-ups with business process outsourcing (BPO) companies and locators in economic zones.
In a briefing Wednesday, Generali Philippines President and CEO Reynaldo Centeno declined to identify growth of their business in 2017, pending official release of the report by March 15.
He, however, stressed the company’s commitment “to significantly outgrow industry growth.”
“We’re happy with the results of 2017… The growth in the last five years has not been that great but because of what we planned since last year, focusing primarily on employee benefits and laying down the foundation for further growth in terms of service capability, we’ve been able to garner the good results,” he said.
Centeno said refocusing their products that allow companies to provide health and life insurance protection to their workers is what boosted their business in recent years.
He said growth of the BPO industry faces risks due to external and internal domestic factors but the industry is seen to remain strong.
“Seeing the successes we had last year, we are very confident that we can do that again and certainly outperform that this year,” he said.
Centeno said they want to take advantage of the government’s program to uplift economic growth in rural areas, with the target to take on opportunities in the provinces, such as in Davao and Bacolod, Negros Occidental, as well as increase their health care provider-partners.
To date, the subsidiary of Italy-based global insurer, Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A., has a network of 1,600 accredited medical facilities and 22,000 medical specialists.
Centeno said they plan to provide more group savings-focused products to cater to younger workers.
During the same briefing, Generali Regional Officer for Asia Roberto Leonardi said they are also strengthening their capacity in terms of technological innovations.
“We are investing in technology to also enable and ease the process of insurance not just for our customers and our partners but also for our employees to make it a more attractive business to run internally,” he said.
Meanwhile, Generali officials are optimistic about the scheduled increases in domestic insurance companies’ capitalization.
To date, insurance companies are required to have a minimum capital of P550 million but this will increase to P900 million by 2019 and to P1.3 billion by 2022.
Centeno said the capital requirements are set by law so it must be heeded.
“The primary motivation there is to make the Philippine insurance market at par with ASEAN market… It’s the law, so we have to abide by it,” he said.
Generali Philippines Board Chair and regional head of M&A Strategy John Spence, during the same briefing, said the higher capital requirement is an assurance for policyholders that their needs would be met.
“It is important for companies to be capitalized for the long-term security of the policyholders… The scheduled increases in the Philippines, its objective is to enhance the security of the industry,” he said, noting that the P900 million capitalization requirement by next year is “still a relatively modest amount.”
Insurance Commission (IC) data show that Generali Philippines has a paid-up capital of P1.44 billion as of end-2016 and ranks 26th of the 30 life insurance companies that year in terms of total premium income.
Spence said their business in the Philippines “is one of the fastest growing businesses that we have in the region.”
He said the focus in the domestic market would remain on group life and health space, which is seen to be boosted by additional investments on technology.
“A very big focus will be particularly around industries where employers are interested in the welfare of their employees. And we see that in the BPO markets, in export markets, in technology-related businesses,” he said.
The domestic BPO industry is seen to take a hit from negative external developments but Spence said they are not bothered by this.
“For us it’s still a major market… We think the competition will drive employers to think about the benefits that they are providing to their employees. And the health benefits are actually a key component to that,” he said.
“Even if growth rates decline, even if that does happen, employers will be looking to recruit talents, retain talents and the health benefit is part of that of equation,” he added.