Back to Blogs
Singapore   Website
Share this Article

EC News Asia Edition (19th July 2017)

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 7 years ago
  • Author:by Alan Jarque

Round-up of the latest news and developments from the Asian insurance market with stories from Munich Re, Chubb Life, Allianz and more.

Munich Re hires former Allianz Canada CEO as Head of Operations in Asia

Munich Re Specialty Group has appointed Celine Ang as head of operations in Asia, effective 1st August.

In her new role, based in Singapore, Ang will be responsible for Munich Re syndicate offices within the region.

Ang brings with her 30 years’ experience and a Bachelor of arts degree, major in economics from the National University of Singapore. She began her career as an underwriter at Allianz in Singapore and was later assigned to Allianz global corporate and specialty in Canada where she was eventually appointed CEO and country manager. Ang later moved to Munich, where she served as Allianz’s global account manager for Aon, before becoming head of global broker management in London. She then moved to Euler Hermes, where she was group head of distribution in Paris, before assuming her current role as CEO of ASEAN in 2014.

Munich Re recently partnered with the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), Swiss Re Capital Markets, and AIR Worldwide to create the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility – a platform for funding relief efforts following a major disease outbreak. The PEFF’s insurance fund will provide maximum coverage of US$425 million for an initial three-year period.

Chubb Life names COO

Chubb Life, the life insurance division of Swiss-headquartered Chubb, has appointed Steven Kwok as chief operations officer to its Hong Kong Unit.

Reporting to Michael Ho, country president of Chubb Life in Hong Kong, Kwok will be responsible for leading the Hong Kong operations team and provide strategic advice to achieve operational efficiency and business growth.

Prior to taking on his new role, Kwok had worked with Manulife on insurance operations and administration as well as leading the development and management of the firms various policy administration systems. From 2008 - 2016, he was the chief life operations officer of AXA China, where he headed up the firm’s life insurance operations to serve a range of distribution channels. 

New role created for Greater China

Willis Towers Watson has appointment Mei-Chee Shum as the new practice leader in its insurance consulting and software business in Asia.

Based in Hong Kong, this is a newly created divisional role at the risk management and advisory firm to address vast client, geographical, cultural and regulatory differences in the Asia region.

Reporting to Richard Collis, managing director for Willis Towers Watson's insurance consulting and software business in Asia Pacific, Shum will be responsible for leading and developing the life insurance consulting practice across Greater China.

Throughout Asia, the insurance market is developing into a major revenue driver for global insurers as the region’s growing middle classes seek to reduce risk, attain greater financial security and put capital to better use elsewhere given the ongoing low yield environment.

Shum holds a PhD in Mathematics from Macquarie University, Australia and is a fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries. Before joining Willis Towers Watson she held numerous senior positions across Asia, the most recent as chief marketing officer for AIA’s operations in the Philippines and group head of product strategy for AIA group based in Hong Kong. Prior to this she was chief financial officer and later chief executive officer for Manulife Taiwan.

The first cyber, technology & financial lines Lloyd's Coverholder starts business in Singapore

Delta Insurance Singapore has opened for business making it the first cyber, technology and financial lines Lloyd’s Coverholder in the city state.

The locally owned, innovation and technology driven InsurTech company specialises in cyber, technology and professional risk protection.

Given its expertise in specialist insurance classes, Delta Insurance Singapore aims to work with FinTechs, start-ups, SME’s, technology firms and corporations.

The new insurer is part of the Delta International family, and sister company to Delta Insurance New Zealand, a specialist financial lines, casualty and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) insurance specialist. Delta New Zealand has disrupted the New Zealand insurance landscape by providing companies the flexibility and protection needed in a fast-changing world.

Delta Insurance Singapore is a founding member of the upcoming InsurTech Asia Association; Delta Insurance New Zealand is a founding member of FinTech NZ.

Mr Eugene Cheong, Managing Director of Delta Insurance Singapore, said: “We help firms to protect themselves from areas of risk – cyber, financial and professional – that the fast-growing innovation and start-up ecosystem in Singapore is facing, especially as Singapore moves towards becoming a Smart Nation and a centre of excellence for innovation and technology.”

Delta Insurance Singapore would like to change the industry dynamic using technology solutions to streamline processes, reducing the time taken for application submission, quotation and policy issuance from what is now typically a one month timeframe to within 24 hours of going on risk. The firm will work with brokers and insurance agents initially, with an aim to expand to other distribution networks to provide its risk protection products.

Another innovative approach is the company's Cyber Risk Management Package which provides a complete solution across the full spectrum of cyber risks - before, during and after any cyber incident. Alongside the insurance policy, the comprehensive Package includes:

Prevention: Identify organisations’ potential exposure to cyber risk and assist in implementing a comprehensive proactive plan with Delta Insurance’s panel of experts - lawyers, cyber security specialists and crisis management experts.

Claims handling: Delta Insurance’s team of experts assist with IT triage (investigating the breach and determining how to recover), crisis and reputation management, system and data analysis and restoration, as well as third party claims.

Post lost services: Once the claim is resolved, Delta Insurance may also assist with the cost of strengthening the organisation's cyber security and reviewing the emergency response plan to ensure better outcomes in the future.

Elaborating on the company strategy, Mr Cheong said: “Our business planning anticipates that Singapore and Asia Pacific will be one of the fastest growing regions for Cyber Insurance, increasing from around US$50 million today to US$500 million by 2025. Cyber crime is now the second most prevalent economic crime in Singapore, with 43% of companies impacted and costing Singapore more than S$1.25 billion (US$905 million) annually. Delta Insurance Singapore wants to work with companies to holistically safeguard against cyber risks, allowing them to fully leverage the technology wave sweeping through the region.

Mr Ian Pollard, Managing Director of Delta International and Delta Insurance New Zealand, said: “We founded Delta Insurance to bring change to the New Zealand insurance industry. For instance, Delta Insurance New Zealand works closely with the National Cyber Policy Office and Connect Smart in New Zealand to shape and improve the New Zealand cyber security framework, particularly for businesses. We have also contributed to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report titled ‘Supporting An Effective Cyber Insurance Market’, presented to the recent G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting. We look forward to working with stakeholders in Singapore to similarly address this important policy area if called upon.

Ms Angela Kelly, Country Manager, Singapore, Lloyd’s Of London (Asia), noted the importance of continued innovation within the insurance sector in Singapore and Asia, saying: “As business models and technology adapt to new economic developments, risk and threats evolve alongside. It is critical that businesses understand and address these dynamic risks. Delta Insurance Singapore’s market entry as the first Cyber and Technology Lloyd’s Coverholder in Singapore is both extremely exciting and very timely, notably with the rising value and importance of data.

As a Lloyd’s Coverholder, Delta Insurance Singapore offers its specialised insurance products supported by Allied World’s Lloyd Syndicate 2232. Lloyd’s financial security rating is A+ (Strong) as rated by Standard & Poor’s rating agency and AA- (Very Strong) from Fitch.

Japan sees surge in demand for cyber insurance as attacks increase

The number of policyholders, mainly companies, taking out cyber insurance has had a sharp increase.

Cyber insurance compensates for losses caused by cyber attacks and mainly covers risks relating to cyber attacks. These risks include; costs of compensation for damage from information theft, costs of research on possible damage and losses from the suspension of sales activities or assembly lines. Some cyber insurance also covers the costs for research conducted when it is feared that companies might have come under a cyber attack, and subsequent advertising used to apologise for the effects of the attack.

In 2016 it was identified that the number of victims with personal information stolen, from companies and other entities rose by more than 10 million from the previous year along with the estimated compensation paid by the affected companies increasing to nearly 300 billion yen (S$3.74 billion).

"It [the spread of cyber insurance] probably indicates an increasing number of companies that now regard cyber attacks as management risks," a risk management expert said.

In Japan, the first cyber insurance services were marketed in 2013. In 2015, major non-life insurers introduced their own cyber insurance services in succession.

The number of cyber insurance policies in fiscal 2016 rose from the previous period. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co said it increased by 250 per cent; Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co said it roughly tripled; AIU Insurance Co said it increased by 50 per cent, while Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc. said it increased by 350 per cent in terms of premiums paid.

Behind the rising demand for cyber insurance is companies' fear of sizeable losses from information theft.

According to research by the Japan Network Security Association (JNSA), a non-profit organisation, there were 468 cases of information theft via cyber attacks and other means in 2016.

Although the figure fell by 320 from the previous year, the number of victims who had personal information stolen increased by 10.15 million to about 15.1 million during the same period.

Among the top 10 cases in which personal information was stolen in bulk, eight were caused by cyber attacks.

The estimated amount of compensation payments totalled about 299.4 billion yen. The average amount per case also doubled from the previous year to about 674 million yen.

Overall, the figure has been increasing in recent years although there were special circumstances in 2014, where a large volume of information was stolen from Benesse Corp, a major educational service company.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of cases of targeted attacks using e-mails, which contained viruses and are sent to companies, has increased for three consecutive years.

The number of those cases totalled 4,046 in 2016, up 218 from the previous year, marking the highest number of cases since 2012.

"These days, we should consider the notion of coming under cyber attack as just a way of life," said Professor Keiji Habara of Kansai University, a specialist in risk management studies.

"Considering taking out insurance policies, companies have no choice but to examine ways to handle cyber attacks from various multiple angles."

Allianz sees "breakneck speed growth" in Asian insurance

Global insurer, Allianz sees Asia excel other markets with Singapore’s insurance market set to almost double in the next decade, a new report on the growth prospects of global insurance markets found.

After the paltry years of the financial and economic crisis, insurers can now look ahead with more confidence, as insurance premiums growth should accelerate to 5.9 percent over the next decade, from 3.1 percent between 2008 and 2016. The Singaporean market is expected to grow by 5.7 percent per year over the next decade. This robust growth is nothing less than striking as Singaporeans already spend more on insurance than almost anyone else in the world.

Only the Chinese in Hong Kong, the Swiss and the Danish pay more to protect their lives and belongings.

 “The long lean spell of the crisis years is finally behind us, in particular, most emerging markets will continue to grow at breakneck speed, first and foremost China,” said Michael Heise, Group Chief Economist of Allianz.

This rapid expansion of life markets in the region reflects the huge pent-up demand, as well as political support for private provisions in the region.

By 2050, more than half of the global population aged 80 and older will live in Asia.

Willis Towers Watson buys 49% in Almondz Insurance brokers

Willis Towers Watson, a London based insurance advisory and brokerage firm has acquired a 49% stake in New Delhi-based Almondz Insurance Brokers in India.

The British firm, Willis Towers Watson was founded in 1828 and has 40,000 employees globally in 140 countries. The joint venture will combine Willis Towers Watsons global network with Almondz’s team of 300 associates in 9 offices in India and will be offering analytics, brokerage, advisory, risk and capital management services.

Current chairman of Almonds, Rohit Jan will now become the India head of Willis Towers Watson whilst the MD of WTW’s India operations, Vivek Nath, will be working out of Singapore and will see his portfolio expand to include South East Asia.

Rohit Jan said "There is increasing market interest and demand for broking services…with this combination there are distinct benefits for our clients, employees and the insurance and reinsurance sector in India,"

Head of Asia, Willis Towers Watson said “This is an exciting development, creating a wealth of opportunities for clients and markets alike."

Over 25% of firms suffered business interruption loss in Hong Kong

Research from QBE insurance has indicated that 26% of businesses in Hong Kong have suffered lost income due to a business interruption in the past year.

Many companies are likely to seek business liability and professional indemnity insurance after a disruption has occurred, a survey of SME’s and large corporations in the territory found. For example, 65% of businesses experience customer fraud or fraudulent payments via the internet, 60% of businesses that had sensitive data stolen via the internet and 46% that had business systems or computers hacked all took action afterwards.

 “What this means is that by waiting until after the fact to protect themselves, they are missing out on any compensation for the initial event and in the process potentially putting business stability in jeopardy,” QBE Hong Kong CEO Mark Walker said.

The most frequently encountered risks over the last 12 months, besides business interruption include; equipment breakdown (23%), legal and regulatory compliance issues (21%) and staff injuries while working (20%).

The survey results indicate that 93% of Hong Kong respondents have some form of business insurance however, only 67% are aware of business liability cover and less than half (47%) have taken out this form of insurance.

Local market growth to be apace with global advance in Malaysia

Over the next decade, the Malaysian insurance market is expected to grow by an average of 5.8% annually, whilst over the same period, the global growth is anticipated to reach almost 6%.

This recovery would mirror the return of the global economy to normal growth and inflation rates, reported the Bernama News Agency citing a statement from Allianz SE Chief Economist, Michael Heise. He said that global insurance growth would be “almost entirely due to emerging markets”. However, Malaysia behaves rather like a mature market with stable or even slightly declining insurance penetration, he added.

Speaking of the life insurance market in Asia, Dr Heise said it would be extraordinary over the coming years because by 2050, more than half of the global population aged 80 years and above would be in Asia.

He expected new technologies such as digitalisation to unveil more attractive insurance products for people in the future.

Global reinsurer in China offers mobile-enabled typhoon solution

Swiss Re has partnered with Ping An Property & Casualty Insurance, launching China’s first mobile-enabled typhoon property parametric insurance solution, giving customers who may be individuals or enterprises the ability to purchase insurance, make inquiries and complete the claims settlement process from a mobile device.

As well as providing technological support and reinsurance service from Swiss Re, the solution uses the company’s catastrophe models and data on natural disasters in order to generate precise quotes to Ping An's customers, says the global reinsurer in a statement.

This product offers a maximum payout of CNY20,000 (US$2,940) per address for individuals and CNY500,000 per address for enterprises.

The insurance covers eight coastal provincial regions in Southeast China, that are prone to typhoons, including Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Fujian, Jiangsu, Guangxi, Shandong and Hainan.

The mobile-enabled insurance solution provides real-time tracking of a typhoon’s path and wind speed as announced by the national meteorological centre of China. The trigger for the payout amount will also be based on the information provided. When a typhoon occurs, a user can access an inquiry page, check if the claim terms have been triggered and submit a remote self-service claim. The system then automatically calculates the claim amount and settles the claim within three days.

"Typhoons are the most often and costliest natural catastrophes which occur in China. They can cause severe life and property loss in economically developed and densely populated regions. We want to leverage on our experience in using cutting-edge technology to develop tailor-made solutions, together with our clients to protect the people who are potentially affected by these natural catastrophes. The successful launch of this product can serve as an important example for other regions affected by similar natural disasters," said Mr John Chen, President of Swiss Re China.

Swiss Re has been active in offering Nat CAT solutions in China. In August 2016, the reinsurer entered into a reinsurance protection scheme with the government of Heilongjiang Province and Sunlight Agriculture Mutual Insurance to protect farmers against financial risks from floods, excessive rain, drought and low temperatures. It was the first time that the Chinese government employed a commercial farm insurance programme. It was also the first tailored solution combining a weather index product with a satellite-based flood parametric product.

Great Eastern's non life unit receives new name and brand in Singapore

Great Eastern Holdings' general insurance arm, Overseas Assurance Corporation (OAC), has been rebranded Great Eastern General Insurance (GEG) in Singapore, with its operations in Malaysia targeted to follow suit at the end of next month.

A corporate statement said that the rebranding comes as part of the company’s strategy to strengthen its focus to further build its general insurance business into a significant pillar of growth for the Great Eastern Group.

Great Eastern Holdings Group CEO Khor Hock Seng said: “Great Eastern is a brand customers know and trust. With the consolidation of OAC into the Great Eastern brand, there will be greater brand unity across our business lines which will enable us to fully leverage the strengths of our established brand to offer more compelling propositions.”

Our general insurance business has been growing steadily and we fully intend to build on the good momentum. Moving forward, a strategic focus will be to leverage the huge customer database and distribution capabilities of Great Eastern and OCBC Bank and draw on our collective strengths to tap into new growth opportunities to serve individual and corporate customers.

He also said: “We will be boosting our digitalisation capabilities to make it more convenient and easier for customers to do business with us and vice versa. With our Travel Smart Premier mobile app, customers can access information and purchase travel insurance on-the-go 24/7. This is just the start. We will be enhancing our app capabilities to facilitate the purchase of more products as well as the submission of simple claims in the near future.

GEG customers can now enjoy Great Eastern’s Live Great Programme, an industry-first loyalty programme that offers health and wellness privileges from 120 merchant partners across the region.

Great Eastern is the oldest and most established life insurance group in Singapore and Malaysia. The group also operates in Indonesia and Brunei and has a presence in China as well as a representative office in Myanmar. Great Eastern is a subsidiary of OCBC Bank, which is the longest established Singapore bank and the second largest financial services group in Southeast Asia by assets and one of the world’s most highly rated banks.

China's Ping An seeks fintech, healthcare assets in U.S., Israel, Singapore

China’s largest insurer by market value, Ping An Insurance Group, is scouting for FinTech and healthcare assets in the US, Israel and Singapore as it looks to use a US$1 billion investment fund, reported Reuters, citing a senior company executive.

Ping An Group's Chief Technology Officer and Chairman of the fund, Mr Jonathan Larsen, told Reuters that the Shenzhen-based insurer plans to use the acquired technology and know-how to grow its business in China.

He said "The primary rationale for the fund is strategic...to find capabilities, ideas, business models and technologies that can be valuable to Ping An".

Ping An launched the Hong Kong-based Global Voyager Fund in early May as the sole investor, but did not provide details of which type of start-up companies it wanted to purchase, or where it would look for assets.

The fund will allocate 30% of the capital to growth companies that are at least three years old and have been through the early-stage challenges, with a single investment size of $10 million to $30 million, Mr Larsen said.

Another 30% will be deployed to larger firms with a single investment size of between $30 million and $100 million, while a further 8-10% will be invested in early-stage companies via partner funds.

The rest will be used for special investment opportunities such as buyouts, said Mr Larsen.

"We are at a point where we can very selectively contemplate international opportunities. And the fund could play a role in that mostly through partnerships," he said.