Round-up of the latest news and developments from the Asian insurance market with stories regarding, Singapore’s cyber security, Allianz, Zhong An Online and more.
Singapore University taps Verizon’s cyber security knowhow
Nanyang Technological University will use the Veris Community Database in a research project to enable the development of more accurate cyber risk assessments. Called the Cyber Risk Management Project, the research initiative is spearheaded by NTU’s Insurance Risk and Finance Research Centre and supported by Singapore’s central bank and Cyber Security Agency. It has been tasked with strengthening the data analytics and cyber risk assessment capabilities of Singapore’s insurance industry. Shaun Wang, director at IRFRC said, “Getting access to real cyber-crime data is a huge boon to the insurance industry. Calculating the cost and the impact of a breach is a complex task at best, and one that demands the availability of huge amounts of data if it is to be accurate.” Wang said Verizon’s Veris Community Database, which contains anonymised data on more than 7,000 security incidents, such as indicators of compromise and victim demographics, will enable researchers to create more accurate assessment tools and methodologies. This will allow for more accurate underwriting by insurance companies, which have traditionally assessed an organisation’s risk profile based on snapshots in time.
Allianz discussing Thailand insurance presence
Allianz is in discussions with Thai financial firm Sri Ayudhya Capital to invest in the non-life insurance sector of the country. The two already work together in the market through Allianz Ayudhya Assurance, an associate company, in which Sri Ayudhya has a 20.17% stake. Sri Ayudhya Capital has approved the formation of a committee to assess a further partnership with Allianz. Four of its directors were named to the committee, Virojn Srethapramotaya, Nopporn Tirawattanagool, Chusak Salee and Laksna Thongthai. The committee will examine various possibilities and details of the potential agreement, as well as other relevant actions and compliance with laws and regulations. It will then give recommendations to the company’s board of directions to consider. The company is currently operating a non-life insurance firm in the market, Sri Ayudhya General Insurance.
Zhong An Online is planning a 10% strategic stake sale
Zhong An Online P&C Insurance is looking to sell 5-10% of its shares to a couple of strategic investors to generate US$1.45 billion, ahead of a planned initial public offering in mainland China. China's first online only insurer is in early talks with potential investors who have shown an interest in acquiring a stake. The investors would be expected to commit at least CNY1 billion each and the new funds would be used by Zhong An to expand its business and buy time before securing the green light from regulators for the IPO. The company says it offers more than 300 insurance products and has written more than 7.56 billion policies for more than 535 million customers. Zhong An was founded in November 2013 by Alibaba's executive chairman Jack Ma, Tencent's chairman Pony Ma and Ping An Insurance group Co of China chairman Ma Mingzhe.
Singapore launch scheme to nurture cybersecurity talent in government
The Singapore government will establish a Cybersecurity Professional Scheme to attract, develop and retain cybersecurity practitioners in the public sector, confirmed Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications & Information (MCI). The scheme will be centrally managed by the national Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and will develop a core of specialists to be deployed across the public sector to support the city-state’s cyber defences. Dr Yaacob said, “As part of the on-going efforts to professionalise the wider cyber workforce, the scheme will also provide a framework to catalyse growth and uplift the overall industry.” The specialists can choose to build deeper technical competencies across the Government in areas such as security-by-design consultancy and cyber forensics. Mobile operator SingTel will be launching an interactive online portal on the topic for students to instil an interest in cybersecurity. The latest scheme is just one of many efforts to shore up cybersecurity in the city-state. Just last week, its Defence Minister announced the formation of a new cyber command, the Defence Cyber Organisation and incorporated national servicemen in a new cyber-defence unit under the Singapore Armed Forces.
Swiss Re Corporate Solutions opens Kuala Lumpur
Swiss Re Corporate Solutions has opened a new office in Kuala Lumpur. The office will function under a Labuan FSA reinsurance licence and will focus on servicing large and upper mid-sized Malaysian businesses through broking partners and intermediaries. Fred Kleiterp, Asia-Pacific CEO said in a statement. “Malaysia is a key focus for us and having a local presence will enable us to more closely collaborate with the market. We will use our large net capacity, and the financial strength of the Swiss Re Group to provide traditional and customised reinsurance solutions to corporations across several industries, including oil and gas, manufacturing, agriculture, marine, aviation and construction." Juerg Stoll will lead the office in Malaysia bringing more than 30 years of industry experience, more recently as the company's Japan Country Head. Swiss Re Corporate Solutions serves clients and brokers in Asia Pacific from 11 offices in six markets, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.
More online insurance startups expected to enter growing Chinese market
Online insurance startups are growing in numbers in China with 13 of them raising a combined CNY1 billion (US$145 million) in the 13 months to February 2017. Online insurance ventures that attracted private equity funding last year included CreditEase Insurance Agency and the Huize insurance business platform. Chuancai Securities notes that online insurance startups are encouraged by the rapid digital transformation of the insurance industry. It says that considering that overall insurance penetration in China is still low, the room for growth of online insurance remains huge and financing would remain active, particularly in the primary market. Zhong An Online Property and Casualty Insurance, China's first online-only insurer, is planning an IPO in the country that could result in it raising up to US$2 billion. Online insurance premiums have ballooned from CNY3.2 billion in 2011 to CNY234.7 billion last year. The number of companies selling insurance online increased from 28 in 2011 to 117 last year.
Hong Kong warns on shrinking reinsurance hub
Hong Kong’s Financial Services Development Council (FSDC) said that it is being affected by competition from its Asian competitors in many areas, especially in reinsurance, marine insurance and captives. Laura Cha, The chairman of the FSDC said, "The recent departure and downsizing of the Hong Kong offices of various international insurance and reinsurance companies highlights the need for Hong Kong to further develop our insurance and reinsurance industry. Further departures are likely in the near future if action is not taken.” In a report the council conceded that the position of Hong Kong as Asia’s reinsurance capital was taken by Singapore in 1997. Over the past 20 years, the number of captives and volume of reinsurance and marine business in Singapore has notably increased, contributing to its development as a regional insurance hub. The report also highlighted that more reinsurance placement will be diverted to on-shore reinsurance companies in mainland China. The FSDC predicted that ILS were going to be an important driver of the future growth of Hong Kong’s reinsurance industry, driven by a rapid development of mainland China’s primary insurance industry.
Fabrice Benard appointed Asia regional head of P&C at Generali
Generali Asia has hired Fabrice Benard as regional head of property & casualty. Benard will be responsible for steering the strategic growth and development of Generali's Asia P&C Retail business. Based in Hong Kong, he will report directly to regional officer Roberto Leonardi. Benard brings more than 15 years’ experience across areas such as retail, risk management, finance, bancassurance and M&A in Europe and the Middle East. He previously served at AXA Gulf based in Dubai, where he was chief P&C retail, actuarial & data officer. He has also held roles as head of corporate finance, capital management, reinsurance for AXA Italy and P&C chief actuary for AXA MPS. Leonardi said of the appointment, “Fabrice’s appointment is important as we look to further strengthen our P&C insurance offerings for our customers in the region. Generali already has a well-established foothold in the Life Insurance, Corporate & Commercial and Employee Benefits segments and we have ambitions to expand the Non-Life Retail & SME insurance business to serve our customers better.”
Berkshire Hathaway names product line heads for new Asia division
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company (BHSI) has confirmed it has introduced group personal accident, corporate travel and expatriate medical insurance in Singapore and Hong Kong. The company has appointed Kok Leong Koo as underwriting manager, accident & health, based in Singapore and Janus Law as assistant vice president, accident & health based in Hong Kong. BHSI’s new corporate travel and expatriate medical insurance products combine coverage with 24/7 access to BHSI’s care and concierge services. These services include emergency medical, evacuation and repatriation assistance, medical referrals, assistance retrieving lost luggage and worldwide concierge support for events like last minute reservations to house sitting services. These new A&H products are available in Singapore and Hong Kong and will launch in Macau in the coming weeks. In addition, BHSI continues to provide facultative reinsurance for accident & health exposures through its four offices in Asia, which are located in Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Malaysia.
Bharti AXA General Insurance names new CEO and MD
An Indian insurance joint venture has named a new chief executive officer and managing director for its business. Bharti AXA General Insurance, a partnership between global powerhouse AXA and Bharti Enterprises, has appointed Sanjeev Srinivasan to the joint role. Srinivasan has been with the firm since 2016, when he joined as chief commercial and principal officer and will now take on the top job following a long career in the industry. Jean-Louis Laurent Josi, regional CEO of AXA Asia, reiterated the importance of the Indian market for both the business and the insurance industry in general. “India, for AXA, is an important market with large potential for insurance penetration given a burgeoning middle-class and a growing economy. Bharti AXA General Insurance has already built a strong position in the Indian market with a large customer base.”
Pacific Life Re makes two key appointments in Singapore
Pacific Life Re has announced the appointments of Navarat Kriausakul as director, product development and Nuttanate Pongpipatpaiboon as director, projects and pricing. Both roles are based in Singapore. Kriausakul will play a key role in leading the company’s business growth by promoting and enhancing Pacific Life Re’s product development capabilities. In this newly created role, she reports to Jeff Cook, head of underwriting and claims in Asia. Pongpipatpaiboon will be the key lead from the Asia pricing team in projects to support clients’ needs and insurance solutions. In this new role, she reports to Joanne Yeo, head of pricing in Asia. She brings with her more than 10 years of direct insurer and reinsurer experience, having worked in roles across pricing and valuation in both local and regional companies.