A Swiss Re Institute survey of 11,000 consumers worldwide conducted two years into the COVID-19 pandemic found that the pandemic has resulted in a greater focus on health and financial security. This has led to an increase in online insurance purchases as well as a greater willingness to share personal health data, particularly among the younger generation.
"The unexpected shock to healthcare systems, as well as accelerated digital adoption and other behavioral changes, have had a significant impact on people's livelihoods. As a result, many consumers continue to express concern about their health resilience and how well they are insured for potential future health shocks "Swiss Re's Group Chief Economist, Jérôme Jean Haegeli, commented.
This is the third edition of the Swiss Re Institute survey, which builds on the 2021 and 2020 Asia-Pacific studies1. The subsequent report, Digital touchpoints build physical and mental health resilience, reveals that shifts in consumer health concerns and financial security have resulted in a reprioritization of policy importance, resulting in a further shift to more online insurance purchases.
"Two years into the pandemic, consumers are still putting their health first. In the post-pandemic world, the re/insurance industry has an opportunity to help strengthen this resilience," Paul Murray, CEO Reinsurance Asia at Swiss Re, stated. "The good news is that more consumers are putting their trust in the industry, and in order to capitalize on this, we must collectively respond to their changing preferences by meeting their expectations of us – multiple digital touchpoints, new products for the new normal, and more efficient underwriting."
Digital touchpoints for health and insurance management are gaining popularity, especially among younger generations. Respondents looking to purchase insurance in advanced markets prioritize affordability and the convenience of online processing, whereas in emerging markets, price, online processing, and the flexibility to mix and match coverage plans take precedence.
Changing consumer perceptions of healthcare
According to this year's report, while the pandemic has shifted consumer behavior in emerging markets toward preventative care and disease prevention, COVID-19 has become a catalyst for more frequent health checks worldwide.
According to the findings, 46 percent of respondents in emerging markets intend to have more frequent health check-ups, compared to 16 percent in advanced markets. This is especially true for India and China, whereas the United States saw the greatest impact on check-ups (21%) and Japan the least (7 percent ).
Respondents also expressed growing concerns about the sufficiency of their current level of insurance coverage. 54 percent of those under 40 who were surveyed said they had researched new or additional policies in the six months preceding the survey.
Respondents in Japan (55%) and the United Kingdom (49%) expressed the greatest level of insecurity among advanced markets. Insurance searches and purchases were noticeably higher in China and India, with 40 percent of respondents purchasing new coverage on average. Under-40s in emerging markets have been the most active in exploring new or additional coverage in the last six months, and they are the fastest growing target group for insurers.
Mental health is also a priority, with one-third of the population surveyed in advanced markets reporting a deterioration in their mental health status in the previous 12 months. This was most noticeable in the United Kingdom (28%) and Australia (26%), with sentiment toward overall health declining the most in Germany (26%).
Rising health consciousness and digital acceptance
According to this year's report, there is an increasing preference for using digital channels for health management. Telehealth and virtual healthcare are becoming more popular in advanced markets.
One in every three respondents worldwide expressed an interest in using health and wellness apps to help build mental strength, particularly among those aged 18 to 39. Respondents' mental health, sleep habits, and nutritional habits remain top priorities.
The results for this year show that the ongoing global pandemic provides an opportunity for insurers to close the protection gap in life and health insurance. Re/insurers can collaborate with governments and consumers to improve physical and mental well-being by better understanding consumer perceptions of overall health and financial security, attitudes toward digital applications, and factors that influence insurance purchasing decisions.
You can get the report here.
1The US, UK, France, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Poland, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Mainland are among the 2022 markets surveyed. China