SM malls to start selling vehicle, travel, dengue insurance

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The SM group has opened up its vast shopping mall network nationwide to be a pioneering sales platform for insurance products, beginning with the simplest ones that required relatively small premium payments like compulsory third party liability (CTPL), travel and dengue insurance.

Eventually, the plan is to offer protection products even for pets, motorcycles and, further into the future, an insurance for weddings that fail to push through.

The group has teamed up with 63-year-old Filipino-owned insurer Pioneer Insurance to offer these products to the mass market in a program called “InsureME@SM” or short for “insurance made easy at The SM Store.”

The idea of selling insurance through the SM group’s department store chain—in the same counter where people pay their utility bills—came from BDO Unibank chair and SM Investments Corp. vice chair Teresita Sy, who had seen similar arrangements work well in overseas markets, said BDO Insurance Brokers Inc. general manager and senior vice president Tracy Tan.

The challenge in this market, Tan said, was that awareness about insurance products was much lower compared to other markets. This is reflected in the very low insurance penetration rate in the country, which the SM group deemed as an opportunity.

“If we could make insurance more accessible, then it would create better awareness,” Tan said. “If we offered products that were simple enough to obtain over the counter, then it would increase people’s appreciation of what insurance is all about.”

Tan said Sy did not want to limit the initiative to one product, noting that retailing was all about giving choices to consumers.

“To cut a long story short, BDO Insurance Brokers and SM took on this challenge because we are the leaders in this industry and wanted to blaze the trail in terms of bringing insurance closer and more accessible to every Filipino,” Tan said.

Tan said SM group had tied up with Pioneer exclusively on the distribution of insurance products because this group was committed to invest in the system needed by the project.

“Insurance serves a noble purpose. The payment of a claim often makes a world of difference between an individual turning hopeless and the ability to get on with his life,” Pioneer Life president Lorenzo Chan said.

Once Filipinos have a better understanding of such product, he said this would cease to be a product that insurers would have to push and sell. Chan added that Pioneer was honored to be part of InsureME@SM.

“Is there anyone who can deny that when it comes to serving millions no one has done it the way the SM has and it still does today?” Chan said.

On travel insurance, Pioneer’s Safe Trip Comprehensive Travel Insurance Worldwide 2.5M provides medical treatment cover of up to P2.5 million and satisfies the Schengen Visa requirement. It also offers personal accident insurance up to P1 million, personal liability up to P1.5 million and covers travel inconveniences such as trip cancellation, flight delay and loss of baggage. It also provides access to emergency and travel assistance hotlines. Safe Trip also comes in the P1 million (for worldwide travel) and P500,000 (for domestic travel) variants. –Doris Dumlao-Abadilla



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