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  • April 2023
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5 Ways to Incorporate Social and Environmental Sustainability into Life and Health Insurance Products

  • Othmane Akesbi
  • Hamza Shaiban
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In Brief

RGA has worked with insurers around the globe to support the development of life and health insurance products that have a positive environmental, social, or governance (ESG) impact, in line with our purpose to make financial protection accessible to all. These protection solutions can be broadly categorized into five ESG-related themes, each described in this article.

That said, expanding insurance’s role in improving quality of life remains both a social imperative and a promising business opportunity. 

RGA has worked with insurers around the globe to support the development of life and health insurance products that have a positive environmental, social, or governance (ESG) impact, in line with our purpose to make financial protection accessible to all. These protection solutions can be broadly categorized into five ESG-related themes, each described in more detail below:

1. Targeted offerings that expand access to protection for underserved populations
2. Inclusive protection products for impaired lives
3. Wellness-linked protection products that encourage policyholders to live healthier
4. Green products that incorporate environmentally friendly features
5. Products that contribute to social betterment

See also: 2021 RGA ESG Report

1. Targeted offerings that expand access to protection for underserved populations

Several large segments of the population are underserved by the life insurance industry and remain underprotected. For example, self-employed workers are estimated to account for nearly half (46%) of the global population,[1] including 15 million people in the United States and European Union who derive their primary income from gig work, defined as temporary or independent employment through a digital platform or other service matching workers and customers on an on-demand basis. These workers often have little personal savings and limited or no access to traditional employee group benefit insurance, making them particularly vulnerable to loss of income and costs arising from sickness or disability.[2]

Another underserved customer segment, seniors, must contend with limited coverage options given common entry age restrictions on life and health insurance products. This segment is growing rapidly as the world population aged 60 years or over is expected to increase from 1 billion to 1.4 billion by 2030 – or about one in six people – and to double to 2.1 billion by 2050.[3] While insurers innovate to reach new markets and new populations, groups requiring coverage tailored to meet their specific needs continue to abound.

Case Study: Entrepreneurs and Freelance Worker Protection in France
This digital insurance broker product offers protection for an underserved segment: self-employed workers, such as entrepreneurs and freelancers, and their families. Customers can benefit from income continuation in case of illness, sick leave, disability, or death, as well as additional guarantees to protect children and spouses. The offering utilizes a digital underwriting process powered by AURA NEXT, RGA’s automated underwriting decision management platform.

Case Study: Senior Critical Illness (CI) Protection in Spain and Portugal
Recognized as one of the most innovative solutions in the market, this offering targets older adults ages 50 to 75, who can keep their policies until they reach 100 years of age. Its benefits include health assistance services and coverage for the following illnesses: stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, severe dementia, Parkinson’s disease, blindness, and paralysis. A further option also covers cancer.

At RGA, we are eager to engage with clients to better understand and tackle the industry’s most pressing challenges together. Contact us to discuss and to learn more about RGA's capabilities, resources, and solutions.

2. Inclusive Protection products for impaired lives

Impaired lives refer to individuals with pre-existing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or HIV, which often limit their access to life and health insurance products, either due to ineligibility or unaffordability. Impaired lives represent a large and underserved segment of the global population facing financial hardship and lack of protection in times of need. Considering diabetes alone, the prevalence of the disease is extremely high in certain countries, reaching nearly 11% in South Africa, 17% in Mexico, and up to 31% in Pakistan.[4] As general population aging continues, the impaired lives segment is expected to grow, given the increased prevalence of chronic diseases at older ages. Inclusive life and health insurance products can both help bridge the protection gap for impaired lives and improve health outcomes by offering tailored solutions that address specific needs and help people better manage their conditions.

Case Study: Protection for Customers with Type 2 Diabetes in Mexico
Amae is Mexico’s first digitally delivered insurance product targeted specifically to individuals with Type 2 diabetes. While certain markets already offered targeted coverage and wellness programs for diabetics, the insurance industry in Mexico had struggled to serve this growing population. More than insurance alone, Amae offers extensive health management services for diabetics through an interactive online platform, including diet and exercise plans, medical monitoring, personalized medical follow-ups, discounts on health products, and a wellness rewards program. The product earned Celent’s Model Insurer 2021 Award for Digital and Emerging Technologies. 

See also: 10 steps to launching a digital insurance product

Case Study: CI Protection for Applicants with Pre-existing Conditions in Singapore
This inclusive, multi-protection plan covers a comprehensive range of critical illness conditions, total and permanent disability, terminal illnesses, and death. It accepts applicants with pre-existing conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high body mass index. If the policyholder doesn’t submit claims during the coverage period, 20% of the total premium is reimbursed.

See also: First Simplified Issue Critical Illness Product Comes to China

3. Wellness-linked protection products that encourage people to live healthier

Wellness-linked protection products encourage, measure, and reward healthy behaviors. These products often use data from wearable fitness tracking devices or mobile apps to track various wellness indicators, such as physical activity, sleep quality, or diet. Based on their wellness performance, customers can receive various benefits, including premium discounts or other rewards. Wellness-linked life insurance products can also have a positive environmental impact, such as encouraging walking, running, or cycling as an alternative to driving.

Case Study: Selling a Wellness-linked Product Through a Retailer in Spain
Billed as “the first life insurance that pays you for walking,” the product offers customers gift card rewards based on the number of steps taken on a quarterly basis. The product helped the insurer not only reach a younger demographic (2-3 years younger than the typical life insurance customer in Spain), but also reposition the company as an innovator in the market.

Case Study: Incentivizing Customers to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle in South Africa
This product encourages customers to lead a healthy lifestyle and rewards them by paying back up to 25% of the premium based on meeting various health, activity, and financial targets:

  • Health (10%): body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose level
  • Activity (10%): average monthly steps taken
  • Financial (5%): paying premium on time

4. Green products that incorporate environmentally friendly features

In this context, green products refer to life and health insurance products with features that support the transition to a low-carbon economy and the protection of natural resources. Such products may direct a portion of the insurance premiums toward environmental projects, investments, or causes. Alternatively, they may reward policyholders who adopt eco-friendly behaviors or choices, such as using public transport and driving electric vehicles, or buying foods that have a low carbon footprint.

Case Study: Planting a Tree for Every Approved Application in Hong Kong
In addition to providing various types of coverage, such as critical illness, medical, accident, and life insurance protection, the insurer pledged to plant a tree per client after every approved application. Furthermore, if the insured sustains an accidental injury while riding public transportation, the insurer pays double indemnity as an incentive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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5. Products that contribute to social betterment

Life and health insurance products can be designed to support the social and economic development of individuals and communities. These may include products that promote access to education by paying for children’s tuition if their parents die or lose their income due to illness or disability, or solutions that make group insurance coverage available to members of cooperatives or associations that work to empower low-income or marginalized groups. Some insurers may also donate a portion of the premiums from such products to social causes.

Case Study: Ensuring That Children Have Access to Education in South Africa
In the event of the policyholder’s death, disability, or terminal illness, while their child is between the ages of five and 22, this comprehensive education insurance offers a fixed annual benefit based on the child’s age. Ensuring that children have access to education, benefits are paid out to the designated guardian or directly to the child’s education provider.

See also: The “social” of ESG: Using our superpower to protect more people


While not sufficient alone, the development of life and health insurance products such as the ones described in this article can help insurers make progress towards achieving their ESG goals and help meet the evolving needs and preferences of their customers, employees, communities, investors, and other stakeholders. These products can also play a role in helping insurers differentiate themselves in the market, as well as attract, retain, and energize customers and talent. As the world faces unprecedented challenges ranging from climate change to social inequalities, insurers have a unique opportunity and responsibility to develop offerings that contribute to the solutions.

RGA can help. ESG fundamentals have long been core to RGA’s culture and approach to doing business. We work with our clients to create affordable and accessible products that serve the financial protection needs of millions of families around the world. We also support our clients in the development of life and health insurance solutions addressing ESG goals. To learn more, contact us.

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Meet the Authors & Experts

Othmane Akesbi
Othmane Akesbi
Vice President, Business Initiatives,  Global Accounts
Hamza Shaiban
Hamza Shaiban
Senior Analyst, Business Initiatives, Global Accounts



1. World Bank, 2019. Self-employed, total (% of total employment) (modeled ILO estimate) -
2. Geneva Association, 2022. Gig Economy Work: Mind the protection gaps -
3. World Health Organization, 2022. Ageing and health -
4. World Bank, 2021. Diabetes prevalence (% of population ages 20 to 79) -