By Herminia S. Jacinto
THE Insurance Commission turned 73 this year, and the celebration was held last April 1 at the Philippine International Convention Center. The event was attended by representatives from government and business. It was on Jan. 3, 1949 that the then Bureau of Banking, which supervised the insurance industry, was renamed as the Office of the Insurance Commissioner by virtue of Republic Act 275. In 1974, Presidential Decree 612 was promulgated, creating the Insurance Code of the Philippines. The code has undergone several revisions; the last one was on Aug. 15, 2013 when Republic Act 10607, also known as the Amended Insurance Code, was signed into law by then president Benigno Aquino 3rd. The code has covered all aspects of insurance supervision, including the provision for a progressive increase in the paid-up capital or net worth of the insurance companies every three years until 2022.
There have been 11 insurance commissioners since 1949, among them former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, lawyer Gregoria Cruz Arnaldo, whose tenure was the longest (1970-1985) and lawyer Eduardo Malinis, who served two terms (1995 to 2004; 2007 to 2010). Heretofore, the term of the insurance commissioners was determined by the president of the Philippines, but the Amended Insurance Code of 2013 now fixes the term to six years without reappointment. The present insurance commissioner is lawyer Dennis Funa.
True to its mandate of safeguarding the rights and interests of the insuring public and pre-need and HMO customers, the Insurance Commission officers and staff are professionals coming from different fields of expertise so we can be assured of efficient and fast service. Many of its functions are now computerized so there was not much interruption of its efficient service during the pandemic period. The website www.insurance.gov.ph was up and running 24/7 so information could easily be sourced or sent to their office.
Like all business operations, the insurance business was also affected by the slump in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, but by 2021, the industry was back with vengeance! The 31 life companies produced premium income of P310 billion in 2021, or an increase of 13 percent over 2020 premiums. Insurance consciousness and the need for protection and savings was noticeably high during this period.
Net income for 2021 was P30 billion, almost the same as the 2020 results.