This has resulted in more online insurance purchases and a greater willingness to share personal health data, especially among the younger generation.
Jérôme Jean Haegeli, Swiss Re's Group Chief Economist, said: "The sudden shock to healthcare systems and accelerated digital adoption, among other behavioural changes, has had a profound impact on people's livelihoods. As a result of this, many consumers continue to express concern regarding their health resilience and how well they are insured for potential health shocks in the future.”
This is the third edition of the Swiss Re Institute survey, and an extension of the 2021 and 2020 Asia-Pacific focused studies. The ensuing report, Digital touchpoints build physical and mental health resilience, reveals that changes in consumer health concerns and financial security have led to a reprioritisation of policy importance, triggering a further shift to more online insurance purchases.
Markets surveyed include the US, UK, France, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Poland, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and mainland China.
Digital touchpoints for health and insurance management have gained traction, particularly among younger cohorts. In the advanced markets, respondents looking to purchase insurance pay close attention to affordability and the convenience of online processing, while in the emerging markets, priority is on price, online processing, and the flexibility to mix and match coverage plans.
Rising concerns over adequacy of insurance cover
Findings reveal that 46 per cent of respondents in emerging markets plan to attend health check-ups more frequently, versus 16 per cent in advanced markets. This is particularly true for India and China, whereas the US saw the highest impact on check-ups (21 per cent), while Japan the least (seven per cent).
Respondents also expressed rising concerns over the adequacy of their existing level of insurance coverage. Of those surveyed and under 40, 54 per cent declared having researched new or additional policies in the six months preceding the survey.
Among the advanced markets, respondents in Japan (55 per cent) and the UK (49 per cent) expressed the greatest level of insecurity. Insurance searches and purchases were notably the highest in China and India, with an average, 40 per cent of respondents purchasing new coverage. In the past six months, the under-40s in emerging markets were the most active in exploring new or additional coverage and constitute the fastest growing target group for insurers.
Mental health also remains a priority, with the results showing that one third of the population surveyed in advanced markets reported a deterioration in their mental health status over the past 12 months. This was most prominent in the UK (28 per cent) and Australia (26 per cent), while in Germany (26 per cent) sentiment around overall health declined the most.
One in three respondents globally also stated their interest in using health and wellness apps, particularly within the 18 to 39-years category, to help build their mental strength. Respondents continue to prioritise their mental health, sleep management and nutritional habits.
This year's results again demonstrate that the ongoing global pandemic is an opportunity for insurers to narrow the protection gap in life and health insurance. With a better understanding of consumer perceptions on overall health and financial security, attitudes towards digital applications, and factors that influence insurance purchasing decisions, re/insurers can work with governments and consumers to strengthen physical and mental wellbeing.