Mr Akio Negishi, chairman of the Life Insurance Association of Japan (LIAJ) has said that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to figure out the way forward for some time and that the present high degree of uncertainty will continue.
In a New Year message 2021, he reiterates that the LIAJ together with its member companies continue to focus on a variety of initiatives to deliver “unwavering peace of mind” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are some positive signs, though, such as the development of vaccines.
In addition to COVID-19, he stresses that there remains the urgent need to address structural issues such as reforms aimed at developing sustainable social security systems that can cope with a super-ageing society where people live for 100 years. He believes that the societal role of the life insurance business—supporting the foundation of people’s lives and providing them with security—has become even more important than before.
Mr Negishi said, “Therefore, in 2021, we will continue to proactively promote our activities, focusing on the two pillars of action I mentioned in my policy statement in July last year.” The pillars are:
1.Enhancing customer service to overcome COVID-19
In order to fulfill its public mission of providing risk coverage even during the pandemic, the LIAJ will continue its operations while thoroughly implementing measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19 among customers and employees. At the same time, it will continue to improve business operations through promoting the digitisation so as to address the diversifying needs of customers in the current changing environment.
In addition, the LIAJ strives to improve industry responses by conducting surveys to ascertain the approaches and best practices of member companies in providing services to customers and sharing the results.
For policyholders directly affected by COVID-19, the LIAJ has been independently and proactively implementing special measures with member companies, including extending the moratorium on premium payment, reduction and exemption of interest on policyholder loans, and simplified procedures for benefit payment.
“This year, we will continue to take suitable actions and initiatives in response to changes in infection rates and social conditions in order to provide our customers with uninterrupted peace of mind at all times,” Mr Negishi said
2.Further enhancing customer service for a 100-year life era
(a) Responding to an ageing society
The LIAJ recognises that one of the key objectives of the life insurance industry is to upgrade services provided to elderly customers and develop a secure environment for continued policyholding.
To this end, last year, the association identified and communicated its views on the challenges facing insurance services in a super-ageing society and its vision of the future in order to improve follow-up activities by member companies. Specifically, to promote industry-wide support for the rapidly increasing number of policyholders with dementia, the LIAJ has been working on the preparation and publication of recommendations related to issues arising from dementia.
This year, the LIAJ hopes to compile and publish the recommendations around April from the life insurance industry to resolve the issues identified and discussed so far.
(b) Promoting insurance education
Mr Negishi said, “If we are to live for 100 years, each of us must have opportunities to better understand the public and private insurance system and the concept of self-help from an early stage of life. Consequently, the LIAJ will continue to promote efforts this year to enrich insurance education opportunities.
“Specifically, we will focus on creating and promoting contents for high school teachers to help build an environment whereby high school students can acquire adequate knowledge of insurance in the classroom, given that insurance education at high school will start in 2022 under the new official curriculum guidelines, as well as the lowering of the legal age of adulthood to 18.”
(c) Building infrastructure for sound business development
Last year, the LIAJ continued to build various business infrastructure and improve business operations to retain the customers’ trust and ensure the sound development of the life insurance industry. The association has been especially proactive in its efforts in regard to customer-first business operations, such as the decision to establish a cross-industry policy inquiry system to ensure customers can make insurance claims in times of disaster as well as in normal conditions.
Again this year, the LIAJ will continue to actively address industrial challenges and support member companies’ efforts in the best interest of customers, while properly identifying the needs of customers and society.