During the Pre-Hispanic Era, the concept of insurance as we know it today is non-existent. The Pre-Hispanic Filipinos, relying mostly on hunting and gathering for their subsistence, did not have the need for it as they are more concerned on how they will survive. Thus, every loss of a family or tribe member was borne alone by the person, family, or tribe where the deceased belonged to.
When the Spaniards came and colonized our country, insurance, in its present concept, was introduced in the Philippines. The Lloyd’s of London, simply known as Lloyd’s, is an insurance market located in London’s primary financial district, the City of London. It introduced the concept of insurance to the Philippines by appointing Strachman, Murray & Co., Inc. as its representative in the country.
Along with the introduction of the insurance industry in the country came the need for laws to regulate it. During the Spanish colonization, the laws on insurance were found in Title VII of Book II and Section III of Title III of Book III of the Spanish Code of Commerce; and in Chapters II and IV of Tile XII of Book IV of the Spanish Civil Code of 1889.
The introduction of the concept of insurance protection brought about by the establishment of Strachman, Murray & Co., Inc. in the Philippines Islands stimulated the influx of foreign insurance companies in the country. In 1898, life insurance was introduced with the entry of Sun Life Assurance of Canada in the local insurance market.
Not long after, in 1906, the first domestic non-life insurance company, the Yek Tong Lin Insurance Company, was organized. Shortly after, the Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., the first domestic life insurance company in the country, was established in 1910.
Due to the fast-paced growth of the insurance industry in the Philippines, the Philippine Legislature, on December 11, 1914, enacted Act 2427, also known as the Insurance Act. This Act took effect on July 1, 1915 and repealed the provisions of the Spanish Code of Commerce on Insurance. Under the Insurance Act, the Insular Treasurer, in addition to his official title, was designated as the Insurance Commissioner ex-officio. The government agency which supervised insurance business in the country was called the Insurance Division of the Bureau of Treasury.
The viability of the insurance market in the Philippines encouraged more foreign insurance companies to open shop in the country. In 1939, the Union Insurance Society of Canton appointed Russel & Surgis as its agent in Manila, transacting business limited to non-life insurance.
During the Second World War, the Insurance Division was separated from the Bureau of Treasury and attached to the Bureau of Banking. After the war, the Division returned to the Bureau of Treasury. However, in 1947, the government saw the synergy and practical advantage of merging Insurance Division with the Bureau of Banking. Hence, the former was detached once more from the Bureau of Treasury and re-merged with the Bureau of Banking.
As the industry prospered, the state recognized the need to establish an independent office to administer all matters pertaining to the country’s insurance industry. Therefore, on January 3, 1949, along with the formal opening of the Central Bank of the Philippines, the Bureau of Banking was renamed as the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, by virtue of Republic Act No. 275. Likewise, the Bank Commissioner and Assistant Bank Commissioner were renamed to Insurance Commissioner and Assistant Insurance Commissioner, respectively
On December 18, 1974, Presidential Decree No. 612 was promulgated, ordaining and instituting the Insurance Code of the Philippines, thereby repealing Act 2427 or the Insurance Act. Presidential Decree Nos. 63, 123, and 317 were issued, amending PD 612. Among other things, Presidential Decree No. 63 provided that the Office of the Insurance Commissioner be renamed as the Insurance Commission. Finally, on June 11, 1976, Presidential Decree No. 1460 took effect and consolidated all insurance laws into a single code – resulting in what we now know as the Insurance Code of 1978.
The dynamic environment of the insurance industry saw the enactment on July 27, 2009 of Republic Act No. 9829, otherwise known as the Pre-Need Code of the Philippines. By virtue of the Pre-Need Code, the regulation and supervision of all pre-need companies conducting business in the country is vested on the Insurance Commission.
On August 15, 2013, Republic Act No. 10607, otherwise known as the Amended Insurance Code, was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III. One of the amendments included in the said law is the progressive increase of capital requirements for life and non-life insurance companies every three years until 2012.
The revisions embodied in the Amended Insurance Code are intended to reinforce the provisions of the previous code so as to further strengthen the insurance industry and ensure the economic viability and financial stability of companies operating in the country, to the end that each and every Filipino is amply protected and secured.