‘Preneed firms should do well this year’

The severely diminished ranks of pre-need companies in the country forecast continued industry growth this year, no matter that their number has dropped from more than 200 at some point in the past to just 14 at present.

This was learned in an interview on Thursday with Elmer M. Lorica, top honcho at the Philippine Federation of Pre-Need Plan Cos. Inc. (Pre-Need Federation), who said one company is already applying for a license to sell pre-need products.

Two other preneed firms are planning to participate in the multibillion-peso industry as soon as the regulatory strictures have been met, he quickly added.

According to the preneed executive, new players are expected to come in this year and help boost the growth of the preneed industry in the country.

“There are new players that are coming in. Actually, last year one was given a license. This year we are expecting three to come in, so three will be an addition [and],  therefore, there will be growth,” Lorica told the BusinessMirror at the sidelines of the 16th Preneed Consciousness Week forum held at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel on Thursday.

Of the three players, one local company already submitted to the Insurance Commission (IC) its application to sell preneed products, while two others plan to apply for a license or certificate of authority, according to Lorica.

Based on IC data, 14 preneed companies were licensed to operate in 2016, including Ayala Plans Inc., Caritas Financial Plans Inc., CityPlans Inc., CocoPlans Inc., Eternal Plans Inc., First Union Plans Inc., Himlayang Pilipino Plans Inc., Manulife Financial Plans Inc., Mercantile Care Plans Inc., PhilPlans First Inc., Saint Peter Life Plan  Inc., Sunlife Financial Plans Inc., Transnational Plans Inc. and  Trusteeship Plans Inc.

“The federation will only recognize those that are members. There are only 14 members in good standing,” he added.

Aside from the expansion in the number of preneed companies in the country, the Pre-Need Federation is also eyeing a number of proposals to further develop the industry. The introduction of new preneed products is among the proposals being looked into, according to Lorica.

“Actually, I’m asking the members of the board to submit their plans and proposals, because it has to be a concerted effort. And I am asking that we join hands and let the industry grow again,” he said.

Under Circular Letter 2015-27, issued by then-IC Commissioner Emmanuel F. Dooc, preneed companies are mandated to enlist as members of the Pre-Need Federation to help strengthen the industry and promote cooperation and discipline among the members.

“To promote the interest of the preneed industry and foster cooperation, discipline and harmony among preneed companies, this commission hereby directs all preneed companies authorized to transact business in the country and those intending to do preneed business to become a member of the Pre-Need Federation,” the circular said.

Membership in the Pre-Need Federation was made a requirement for the issuance or renewal of a certificate of authority to do business and issued only by the IC.