COVID-19 drives Mexican digitisation
At the time of writing the latest life insurance market report for Mexico, the world was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. In Mexico, by mid-December 2020, more than 1.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported, and almost 114,000 deaths. According to market sources, there is no exclusion for pandemic risk in life insurance contracts. The number of claims under life policies for COVID-19 deaths rose to 30,729 in late November 2020, with the average cost of each claim being MXN 217,463 (USD 9,458). An impact of the pandemic is the acceleration of the trend towards digitisation. Insurers and intermediaries have been required to use technology to interface with new and existing customers, for example, through apps for quotations and sending documents electronically, as well as procedures such as underwriting. With an estimated 40% of the Mexican population under age 40, distribution through digital means offers a substantial potential for growth. The pandemic has also brought the importance of insurance cover to the public's attention, with some increased demand for life and medical expenses insurance being noted. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), also known as the Tratado entre Mexico, Estados Unidos y Canada (T-MEC) in Mexico and Canada as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), was signed in November 2019 and has now been ratified by all parties. It replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (Tratado de Libre Comercio de America del Norte - TLCAN). There are no significant changes for the insurance sector under the new agreement. It is valid for 16 years but will be subject to review every 6 years. In general, the new treaty promotes greater competition in the market by encouraging country regulators to permit insurance products in their market unless they are disapproved, permit product for certain lines without requiring regulatory approval, and to dispense with limitations on the number of products which can be introduced in the market. A topic much in discussion in the local market was attaining greater financial inclusion. It is considered that a greater range of products is needed to cater for both formal and informal workers, with products more tailored to individual need, and better access to products in the market for those in the informal sector who are not part of the banking system. Financial education is seen as playing a key role in raising awareness of insurance as a solution. At the same time, it is seen that more price competition in the market is required, whilst minimising transaction costs.
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