Life insurance, a support for Romanians during the COVID-19 pandemic

7 October 2021 —
Almost two years have passed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time the Romanian insurance industry has constantly adapted to consumers' needs, in some cases even by extending the coverage existing in the original policy wording.

"The vast majority of companies adapted their activity in the pandemic context to broaden and adapt their coverage to COVID-19", explained Alexandru CIUNCAN - Director General of UNSAR (the National Union of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies in Romania) -, even though there was a principle at international level, including in the reinsurance area, whereby risks generated by a pandemic represented exclusion from insurance policies.

Moreover, although some companies used to exclude epidemics and pandemics, now, to support clients who already have such insurance and whose health could be affected by COVID-19, insurers have decided to assess each claim individually and to accommodate the payment of the insurance indemnity for risks caused by COVID-19.

Of course, as a principle, there is no standard life insurance, and each company and product cover different risks, depending on the needs of the customers, the policy of each company and, therefore, the product itself.

In this respect, to help in deciding and purchasing the right product for their needs, consumers have at their disposal a pre-contractual document, called KID, which outlines and explains the coverages and exclusions of insurance products. This enables customers to see, based on the advice they are offered - free of charge and compulsory -, by their insurance adviser whether one product or another is suitable for them before they take out an insurance policy.

Gross premiums written by insurance companies for life insurance business amounted to 688.43 million lei in the first quarter of 2021, an increase of approximately 11.6% compared to the same period of the previous year. At the same time, the value of gross claims, maturities and surrenders paid related to life insurance business stood at a level of 271.44 million lei in Q1 2021.

The increased interest of Romanians for insurance is also reflected in the UNSAR-IRES Barometer on Risk Perception and Insurance Culture in Romania (2021). According to the survey, 30% of respondents say they are more interested, because of the pandemic, in life insurance for unemployment and temporary take-up of rates (vs. 23% in 2020).