Philippine mutual microinsurers suspend collection of payments from policyholders to offer relief during COVID-19 pandemic

Friday, 24 April 2020

In the Philippines, the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or lockdown is in place until April 30 and ICMIF member MiMAP (RIMANSI) reports that a government announcement is expected sometime this week on the extension, modification or lifting of the ECQ.

The Microinsurance MBA Association of the Philippines, Inc. (MiMAP) also known as RIMANSI was established in 2005 to help professionalize the management of mutual benefit associations (MBAs) and microinsurance services that provide affordable, comprehensive, and quality risk protection to low income populations in the Philippines.

Between 16 March and 10 April 2020, MiMAP (RIMANSI) says that Mi-MBAs (Microinsurance Mutual Benefit Associations) have implemented the following response to prioritising members’ needs.

  • The suspension of collection of payments until 30 April
  • An extension of the grace period
  • The continuous processing and payment of claims

The total amount of claims paid during the above timeframe was PHP 39.94 million with total claims paid daily averaging PHP 1.66 million. The total number of claims paid was 1,783 and the average number of claims paid each day was 74.

Thanks to MiMAP (RIMANSI)’s coordination work with the relevant government agencies, the Insurance Commission included MBAs as part of frontline health services, thereby allowing them to process claims payment with skeletal staffing, therefore exempting them from the ECQ. MiMAP (RIMANSI) expects that the number of claims paid will significantly increase in the next period of their reporting. Mi-MBAs have been using community representatives out in the field using mobile phone cameras, remittance centres and banks to validate and pay claims for their members.

MiMAP (RIMANSI) also reports that the Mi-MBAs are currently working on revised financial projections and cash flow alongside their post-ECQ recovery plans.  

MiMAP (RIMANSI) holds weekly videoconference meeting with the Board and Mi-MBA managers. One of the key outputs is a position paper that will balance the extension of coverage of members after the grace period with the sustainability of Mi-MBAs. 

In a letter to Dennis B. Funa, the Insurance Commissioner in the Philippines, MiMAP (RIMANSI) set out its intention to help the 7 million Mi-MBA members nationwide in a post-ECQ scenario, extending their insurance coverage by utilizing their accumulated refundable equity value, in case they will not be able to pay for the contributions after the prescribed grace period. The recommended measure is to balance the interest of individual members and the sustainability of Mi-MBAs.

MiMAP (RIMANSI) thanked the Commissioner for his support in helping mutual microinsurers serve their members best in these very trying times. In particular, MiMAP (RIMANSI) expressed gratitude for the classification of MBAs as part of the health frontline services which reinforced the Mi-MBA’s resolve to remain true to its code of immediately processing the claims benefits due for the members and their families. This is a big boost to the role of the microinsurance sector, especially the Mi-MBAs in doing their share in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic since the cost of burying the deceased will neither be a burden to the bereaved family nor not passed on to the local government.

MiMAP (RIMANSI) says that as it plans ahead for the “new normal” in the post-ECQ scenario, they are looking at measures to balance members’ interest and the sustainability of the Mi-MBAs as well. Based on weekly video-conference calls with the MiMAP Board and Mi-MBA managers, it is believed that the liquidity of Mi-MBAs is still manageable after one and a half months of ECQ without contribution collections, whilst continuing to pay claims benefits and paying the fix costs. The expenses, however, appear to exceed revenues of most of the Mi-MBAs for the first four months of the year based on their financial projections.

MiMAP (RIMANSI) believes, however, that the members’ capacity to pay their contributions will take some time in line with their ability to recover and rebuild their respective micro-enterprises and livelihoods. Therefore, looking out for the members’ interest and the Mi-MBAs’ sustainability, MiMAP (RIMANSI) has suggested to the Insurance Commissioner that in case members are not to pay the regular contributions beyond the prescribed grace period (45 days plus additional 31 days), members may be allowed to draw from their refundable ‘Equity Value’ to pay for contributions, with the objective of extending their coverage rather than letting their membership certificates terminate. This suggestion remains with the Commissioner for consideration at the time of writing.

Photo shows: Two beneficiaries of SEDP MBA’s members in the Bicol region. These were processed during this ECQ.