Skip to main content Skip to notification content

Filipinos track health and focus on financial planning amid COVID-19, new Manulife survey shows

February 18, 2021

  • High demand to buy insurance in the Philippines, as Filipinos take more control of health and finances
  • Many prefer to manage insurance digitally, while consulting agents still popular 

Manila - A year on since COVID-19, Filipinos are taking greater interest in their fitness and well-being as they take more control of their health and finance, including insurance and retirement planning, as the country comes to terms with the longer-term impact of the pandemic, according to new research from Manulife.

The latest version of the “Manulife Asia Care Survey” takes a closer look into customers’ concerns, priorities and aspirations. The survey polled about 4,000 people across the region who either own insurance or intend to buy it in the next six months. Around 520 respondents were from the Philippines.

Nearly all (95%) of those across the region who worry most about COVID-19 have made an effort on a personal level to improve their overall health, mostly through more regular exercise (58%) and improved diet (54%). In the Philippines, almost all the respondents (99%) say they had taken action to help them manage COVID-19, with 69% saying this included doing more regular exercise, and 61% improving their diet, both well above the Asia average.

Additionally, setting aside their COVID-19 concerns, almost all respondents (92%) in Asia are tracking their health and fitness, including body weight, sleep quality, blood pressure, heartbeat and steps. In the Philippines, 97% are self-monitoring health, with three quarters (75%) tracking their body weight, equal with Malaysia as the highest in the region. 

Filipinos also monitor their sleeping quality and blood pressure in equal measure (both 62%), above the regional average of 51% and 47%, respectively. About a third of them (36%) are also monitoring the number of steps they have taken. In addition, two out of five (40%) of the Filipinos surveyed own fitness wearables, compared to a regional average of 46%.

Retirement planning becomes more important

More than anywhere else in the region, Filipinos (90%) say that retirement planning has become more important since COVID-19 started, well above the regionwide average of 73%. This high level of interest in retirement is evident, despite the fact that Filipinos surveyed were the least concerned in the region about a decline in personal wealth (20%) as a result of COVID-19. The regional average is 42%. However, the interest in retirement does reflect their increased focus on achieving financial security amid uncertainty.  

“We see that the pandemic has turned the spotlight on health and retirement for many Filipinos,” said Richard Bates, President and CEO, Manulife Philippines. “Amid all the uncertainty, they are finding ways to take more control of these aspects of their lives. Manulife has a wide range of health and retirement solutions, including HealthFlex, the first and only one in the market that provides customers the flexibility both in the cost and scope of their insurance coverage, to give them security and financial peace of mind where it matters; and Freedom, an insurance plan that helps Filipinos save for the long term, and which also offers cash pay-outs that help customers make the most of the next stage of their life journey. So, we’re well-placed to support our customers’ life journeys and help make their every day better.”

High demand for new insurance and digital tools, while agents remain popular

Aligned with taking better control of health and finance is an interest to buy new insurance. In the Philippines, almost 9 out of 10 (87%) say they intend to buy new insurance in the next six months, higher than anywhere else in the region except Vietnam (91%). The regional average is 71%. The Philippine residents surveyed are most interested in health, hospitalization and life cover, while also interested in investing in retirement and their children’s education.

Nearly three quarters (70%) of Filipino respondents – second only to Vietnam (75%) in the region – say they prefer to manage their policies through digital means such as mobile apps, including for claims and payment. The survey also shows that 53% of them had spoken to an agent about purchasing insurance, a relatively high percentage but below the regional average of 64%.

“The Philippines remains one of the most under-insured markets in the region, but technology is enabling more Filipinos to get the protection they need. We also see insurance customers in the Philippines very willing to manage their insurance through digital platforms, having recognized that those channels are secure, simple and convenient,” added Bates. “At the same time, it’s clear that many still like to speak to their agents. So, while the trend going forward looks to be more digital, having agents and an omnichannel approach is the way of the future. It’s one that integrates digital, while drawing on human empathy, trust and a holistic understanding of our customers’ needs.”

1 This version of the Manulife Asia Care Survey was conducted via online self-completed questionnaires in eight markets, namely Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. A total of 3,946 people, aged 25 years old or above, was surveyed in November 2020. In Philippines, 519 people were surveyed. They included insurance owners and those who did not own insurance but intended to buy it in the next six months.

Download PDF

About Manulife Philippines

The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company opened its doors for business in the Philippines in 1907. Since then, Manulife’s Philippine Branch and later The Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. (Phils.), Inc. (Manulife Philippines) has grown to become one of the leading life insurance companies in the country. Manulife Philippines is a wholly-owned domestic subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation, among the world’s largest life insurance companies by market capitalization. Learn more about Manulife Philippines by visiting their website and following them on Facebook (, Twitter (@ManulifePH), and Instagram (@manulifeph).


About Manulife 

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. We operate primarily as John Hancock in the United States and Manulife elsewhere. We provide financial advice, insurance, as well as wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. At the end of 2017, we had about 35,000 employees, 73,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving more than 26 million customers. As of September 30, 2018, we had over $1.1 trillion (US$863 billion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made $27.6 billion in payments to our customers. Our principal operations are in Asia, Canada and the United States where we have served customers for more than 100 years. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong.