Microinsurance firms offer cheap ways to insure Filipinos from COVID-19

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 30) — Filipinos have several microinsurance options to protect themselves financially despite the risk of hefty hospital bills upon catching COVID-19, with at least two groups offering low premiums for instant coverage.

"Right now, for ₱50, you are covered if you are positive for COVID-19 through the RT-PCR test," said 1 Cooperative Insurance System of the Philippines (1CISP) president Roy Miclat of their rate in an interview with CNN Philippines' The Exchange With Rico Hizon. "We will give you ₱2,500 when you are confined for (the) 14 days recovery period."

"Mahal na ang ₱50 per day [is already expensive]," he added, noting this amount is good for an entire year.

Aside from low premiums, those interested may also expect simple requirements. Applicants must be 18 to 60 years old upon enrollment and present their birth certificate and if they're married, a marriage contract.

"[A]ng aming pong produkto ay hindi lang pang-myembro kundi kasama ang pitong miyembro ng pamilya. So limang anak, asawa at si nanay," said Salve Antiquera, president of the Microinsurance MBA Association of the Philippines.

[Translation: Our products don't just cover our members but up to seven family members as well -- five children, the spouse, and the member herself.]

The insurance takes effect immediately, too — she says its effectivity is only after 24 hours.

Such services have proven popular among those in need, particularly members of cooperatives and mutual benefit associations. For instance, 1CISP had already released around ₱4 million to aid members who have caught the highly contagious disease.

The more, the merrier

So why the cheap microinsurance rates? The answer lies in the number of people insured, according to Miclat — the more Filipinos get insured, the cheaper the premium gets.

"Mas maganda ang epekto nito kaysa magi-insure ka sa private—I mean, I don't have anything against private — but bumabalik kasi yung ibinabayad mo sa pamamagitan ng patronage refund or other services," he added.

[Translation: It's better than turning to a private insurer — I mean, I don't have anything against private (services) — but you get back what you pay for through the patronage refund or other services (with microinsurance).]

Meanwhile, an insured individual or family who has consistently been paying their premium until the declaration of lockdowns, which led to disruption or loss of livelihood, may also opt to get back part of the amount they previously paid for, said Antiquera, as this is part of their basic life insurance plan.

"Kasama sa produkto iyon na kapag mag-resign sila o for certain reasons ay pwede nilang kuhanin na yung kanilang pera," she explained. "Kasi 50 percent ng binayad nilang premium, which is ₱15 a week na insurance premium — kalahati diyan, naka-reserve yan para sa kanila."

[Translation: Among the product's features is should the insured resign, they may get their money. Fifty percent of their insurance premium, which is ₱15 a week, is reserved to them.]