Regulators and leaders of the insurance industry all over the 10 countries of Southeast Asia gathered online for the 46th ASEAN Insurance Council (AIC) and 23rd ASEAN Insurance Regulators Meeting (AIRM), both hosted by the Philippines.
Thanks to videoconferencing technology, however, insurance regulators and insurance industry leaders from 10 countries of Southeast Asia were still able to meet, discuss the challenges they are all facing, and propose solutions and directions moving forward.
For several days in October, leaders from the life and general insurance sectors from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the host Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam met through Zoom videoconferencing -- a first in history -- to update themselves of what each has been doing based on what they have agreed in their previous meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar last year.
The leaders also spotlighted how Covid-19 is affecting their jurisdictions, and how the insurance sector is trying to survive and thrive amidst these trying times.
In the latter part of the month, it was the regulators' turn to meet, and they followed it up with a Joint Plenary Meeting with industry leaders.
Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa from the Philippines, who chaired this year's meetings, was elated at their success in serving their purpose of enabling a healthy exchange of ideas among the leaders.
Among the major points discussed in the meetings were the following:
1. Cross-border issues for motor vehicle insurance that affect the countries in the Southeast Asian mainland;
2. Insurance for natural catastrophes which mostly affect disaster-prone countries like the Philippines and Indonesia;
3. Agriculture insurance which is very successful in Thailand.
4. Digital innovations such as online examination for agents and other approaches to address the limitations from Covid-19 lockdowns;
5. The continuing development of insurance education, especially in the field of insurtech; and
6. Insurance products for the pandemic.
PIRA Chairman Allan Santos, who also chaired the events' organizing committee, highlighted the "silver linings" in the Covid-19 crisis, among them the industry's accelerated adoption of digitalization and the fresh realization of people of the need for insurance.