The life market reported its strongest growth for sixteen years in 2017 with premium rising 21.94%.

In the same year, Singapore's total insurance market ranked 22nd globally (behind Belgium, ahead of Mexico) in USD terms of total premiums written. Its life market ranked 19th (behind Denmark, ahead of Thailand), non-life 44th (behind Hong Kong, ahead of Greece), and PA and healthcare insurance 27th (behind Denmark, ahead of Belgium).

Life insurance represented over 80% of Singapore’s total market in 2017.

However, market volatility and a reduction in single premium commission contributed to slower growth of 4% in 2018, as reported by the Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA).

While market penetration for life business is already relatively high (6.99% in 2018 including riders), confidence in long-term life market growth is underpinned by growing national and regional affluence and Singapore's position as a leading regional and global financial centre.

Revisions to the risk-based capital solvency regime (RBC 2) have been impact-tested with a parallel run on insurers in the 2018 calendar year. A further parallel run is anticipated for 2019 prior to the introduction from 1 January 2020. Revisions will add previously excluded risks from the calculation to better reflect insurer activity and risk profile.

Following significant losses in private medical insurance (PMI) lines, initiatives have been put into effect to restore sustainability to this class, including coinsurance, benchmarking of fees, pre-authorisation protocols and preferred provider networks.

Insurer losses have been reported also in critical illness following recent product innovations, most notably Manulife Singapore (Pte) Ltd reported an SGD 22.2mn (USD 16.46mn) loss on individual long-term critical illness in 2018 following an SGD 46.6mn (USD 33.75mn) loss in 2017.

The Ministry of Health is to reform the national long-term care insurance scheme based on ElderShield Review Committee recommendations issued 25 May 2018. A new enhanced scheme called CareShield Life will begin in 2020 with mandatory auto-enrolment for those aged between 30 and 40.

ElderShield cover is currently provided by three private sector insurance companies (Aviva Ltd, Great Eastern Life Assurance Co Ltd and NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative Ltd) but this will end when it is converted to a not-for-profit scheme run by the government from 2021.

For more information about Axco's Insurance Market Reports for Singapore, please contact