People across Asia are taking more control of their health and retirement planning, as they look to the COVID-19 pandemic’s longer term impact on their personal wealth and lifestyle habits, according to new research from Manulife.
The findings of the latest “Manulife Asia Care Survey” shows that nearly all of the respondents (95%) across Asia who worry most about COVID-19 have taken personal actions to improve their overall health, mainly through more regular exercise and improved diet, particularly in the emerging markets.
Among the respondents who are most concerned with COVID-19, Indonesia (74%), Vietnam (72%), Philippines (69%) and Malaysia (57%) say they are exercising more regularly, compared to mainland China (52%), Hong Kong (42%), Singapore (38%) and Japan (30%).
Additionally, no matter their views on COVID-19, almost all respondents (92%) are tracking a series of health and fitness measures, including body weight, sleep quality, blood pressure, heartbeat and steps.
Almost three out of four respondents (73%) say retirement planning has become more important since COVID-19 started. The retirement planning figure is highest in emerging markets, where respondents in the Philippines (90%), Indonesia (88%), Malaysia (83%) and Vietnam (79%) all viewed retirement planning as much more important or important. Figures in the other markets are: Singapore (74%), Japan (61%), Hong Kong (55%) and mainland China (53%).
The high level of interest is aligned with concerns about personal wealth. Across all markets, 42% are worried about their personal wealth in the wake of COVID-19, with respondents in Hong Kong and Singapore the most concerned.
The survey, which was conducted in November 2020 via online self-completed questionnaires, polled some 4,000 people, across eight markets in Asia, covering mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Stronger demand for insurance protection
Aligned with taking better control of health and finance, interest in buying new insurance across Asia has risen from 62% to 71% since the last survey was conducted in May 2020.
Respondents were most interested in life, health and critical illness products. Over half (52%) say they prefer to manage their policies through digital means like mobile apps, including for claims and payment, while insurance agents are still in high demand, with 64% of the respondents saying they have spoken with agents about their insurance intentions.