Chinese insurers are pursuing strategic tie-ups and outright M&A to tap Western expertise, keen for knowledge on products, pricing and technology as a nascent market for health and property insurance takes off, industry executives say.
China is set to climb one notch to become the world’s No.3 insurance market this year, state-run news agency Xinhua quoted insurance regulator chief Xiang Junbo as saying in January. Non-life insurance premiums jumped 17 percent in real terms in 2014, the 13th straight year of double-digit growth, according to Swiss Re.
The push to widen product portfolios has been propelled by falling demand for car insurance as vehicle sales weaken on slower economic growth, as well as the planned introduction of tax breaks on health insurance premiums.
Insurers including Fosun International Ltd and Anbang Insurance Group have launched some $6.1 billion worth of overseas deals this year. Those with partnerships already are building them out – China Pacific Insurance Group Co Ltd has widened ties with Allianz SE to sell long-term care and health products.
Industry insiders said scores of Chinese underwriters are now being trained in London and other European capitals. “They’re reaching out wherever they can, they’re looking for strategic relationships,” said Malcolm Steingold, Aon Benfield’s head of Asia Pacific, adding that some products have been tailored to include a savings component as Chinese customers are new to protection-only policies. (Reporting by Richa Naidu in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Denny Thomas in Hong Kong.)