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Life Insurance Participation Drops By Nearly One-Fifth in Five Years

Life Insurance Participation Drops By Nearly One-Fifth in Five Years

Last year, research from a major insurance provider signaled a significant shift in the life insurance landscape within Australia, showing a marked decrease in the percentage of insured non-dependent adults of working age.
Only 77% now carry some form of life insurance, a stark contrast to the 94% coverage rate recorded in 2017.
Industries evolve, yet the dip in these figures marks a noteworthy trend within the life insurance sector.

This downward trend is believed to be partially due to legislative changes, specifically citing the Protecting Your Super package, which significantly reduced the instances of automatic coverage in certain superannuation accounts. These regulations were aimed at safeguarding the super funds of Australians from unnecessary erosion due to fees and insurance premiums, particularly in cases of low balance and inactive super accounts.

Data gleaned from industry body Council of Australian Life Insurers (CALI) shines a light on the residual under-insurance issue, suggesting that approximately 3.4 million citizens fail to maintain adequate income protection coverage for basic livelihood necessities, suggesting an undercurrent of financial vulnerability in the populace.

The landscape of the life insurance sector has also undergone significant consolidation in recent years. The current market comprises 24 life insurers, seven of which are onshore reinsurers, and 10 friendly societies. This is a reduction from the 29 insurers and 12 friendly societies active in 2018, leading to a more concentrated market environment.

Although the industry has faced challenges, there have been positive shifts making the market more appealing for insurers and insureds alike. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) instigated crucial capital modifications, changes were implemented regarding income protection products, and a substantial surge in the price of current income protection products was observed. Adding to this landscape, there was noteworthy industry data suggesting stabilization in the migration away from financial advisement as adviser numbers began to level out.

Encouragingly, due to industry adaptation and increased adviser productivity, there has been an upswing in new business acquisitions over three consecutive quarters. This rejuvenation brings renewed optimism as what some are calling an "inflection point", hinting at a trajectory of growth and recovery for the life insurance market moving forward.

As financial landscapes evolve, the coming years will be critical in assessing whether these trends will continue to affect the levels of life and income protection insurance coverage across Australia, and whether current industry adaptations will suffice to close the gap in under-insurance among Australians.

Published:Friday, 19th Apr 2024
Source: Paige Estritori

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