First-year premiums (FYPs) of foreign-currency insurance policies in April were NT$27.1 billion (US$914.3 million), the lowest in the past six months, as the COVID-19 pandemic affected insurers’ sales activities, data released on Tuesday by the Financial Supervisory Commission showed.
The FYP represented a 45 percent plunge from a year earlier and was larger than a 13 percent annual decline in the first quarter, which the commission attributed to a 58.8 percent retreat in sales of investment-linked foreign-currency insurance policies to NT$6.3 billion and a decline of 38 percent in sales of traditional foreign-currency insurance products to NT$20.8 billion.
Although consumers in April were still interested in buying US dollar-denominated insurance products because of the cheaper greenback against the New Taiwan dollar, foreign-currency insurance policies in general saw weaker momentum as insurers could not hold regular marketing events amid the pandemic, a commission official said on Wednesday.
Insurers tend to rely on face-to-face customer visits to introduce foreign-currency insurance policies, which are more complicated than NT dollar products and involve foreign-exchange risk, the official said.
Overall, cumulative FYPs of foreign-currency insurance policies decreased 21 percent annually to NT$160.2 billion during the January-to-April period, a smaller decline than a 41 percent drop in FYPs of all life insurance policies to NT$268 billion during the same period, data showed.
That was because declared interest rates of foreign-currency products — which determine the bonuses that policyholders receive — were still higher than those offered by the NT dollar insurance products, the official said.
For example, US dollar products’ declared interest rates remained above 3 percent, while the rates of NT dollar products were at about 2 percent.
FYPs of US dollar policies totaled US$5 billion in the first four months, down 11 percent from a year earlier, while those of yuan-denominated policies shrank 77 percent to 562 million yuan (US$79.4 million) and Australian dollar policies fell 42 percent to A$230 million (US$158 million) over the same period, data showed.
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