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EC News Asia Edition (24th January 2018)

  • Publish Date: Posted about 6 years ago
  • Author:by Alan Jarque

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

Chubb announces key hires for new personal lines division

Chubb has created a new commercial division dedicated to personal lines insurance in Singapore.

This new division contains the following lines of business: personal risk services (PRS) which targets coverage for valuables, residential insurance and specialty protection such as identity and wallet protection.

Along with the new division, Chubb has announced two key appointments. Bernard Tan has been named as division head of personal lines and Regina Baxter as manager of PRS and regional fine arts specialist.

Tan joined Chubb over a decade ago as a financial lines underwriter. In his most recent role he was responsible for the management and expansion of Chubbs High Net Worth insurance.

As division head of personal lines, Tan will manage and drive the strategic growth of Chubb’s personal lines portfolio spanning multiple distribution channels. He will report to Adam Clifford, country president for Chubb in Singapore.

Baxter joined Chubb in 2011 as an underwriter and in 2016, was appointed as the region’s fine arts specialist due to her unique ability to combine underwriting with knowledge in fine arts.

In her new role, Baxter will be responsible for the management and profitability of the PRS portfolio, including all underwriting and market-facing functions. She will report to Tan.

Chubb’s regional head of personal lines, Edward Ler said: “The Asia Pacific is a region of significant growth potential for personal lines insurance given the rising middle class and growing affluence especially in Singapore. We have deep expertise in crafting personal lines insurance, especially our niche strength in art insurance. Bernard and Regina, with their strong client management skills and business acumen are well poised to lead the charge for the new personal lines division.”

Clifford remarked: “Our personal lines business has undergone rapid expansion and growth this past year and we see significant potential for Chubb in this space,”

He added: “We are committed to our promise of underwriting as well as service excellence and I am confident that with talented leadership like Bernard and Regina, Chubb will be able to tap on the many opportunities available and bring our personal lines business to the next stage of strategic growth.” 

JLT Re appoints Fox as new CEO of JLT Re APAC

JLT Re has appointed Jeremy Fox as CEO of JLT Re APAC. He will also become a member of the reinsurance global executive committee.

Fox has a long and distinguished career within the reinsurance business having worked for EW Payne, Denis Clayton and Aon over his career. Much of this has been focussed in the APAC region spanning both treaty and facultative business. Fox most recently held the position of COO for Aon Benfield, APAC. 

In his new role, which he will assume later in the year once his current contractual obligations are satisfied, Fox will be based in Singapore and will report to global CEO of JLT Re, Mike Reynolds.                                   

Stuart Beatty, who is currently based in Sydney, will be leaving JLT Re to pursue alternative career options.

Chubb names Koh Wei Lee as Head of Bancassurance, Singapore

Chubb has named Koh Wei Lee as head of bancassurance for Singapore.

This appointment is in addition to Koh's current responsibilities as division head of accident & health (A&H).

He will continue to report to Adam Clifford, country president for Chubb in Singapore.

In his new role, Koh will be responsible for driving the strategy, development and growth of the bancassurance channel for the local operations.

Koh joined the company in 2016 and boasts over 17 years of industry experience. During his career, Koh has served in a variety of senior roles, some which included spending time overseas in Hong Kong and Malaysia, covering regional product management, business development and product marketing.

FTLife appoints Gerard Yang as new CEO

FTLife revealed that Gerard Yang has formally assumed the role of CEO from 17 January 2018.

Yang joined FTLife in 2016, previously working for one of the world’s largest global life insurance companies. He boasts over 20 years of experience in the life insurance industry in Hong Kong and across Asia.

Commenting on the appointment, chairman of FTLife, Fang Lin said: “I would like to extend congratulations and full support to Gerard on his new appointment. I am sure he will lead FTLife to scale greater heights with new growth and spectacular results. With strong backing from JD Group and the Board, I am confident that our excellent teams under his leadership will together realise the company’s vision of becoming a world-class customer-centric insurance company that achieves long-term growth by flourishing in Hong Kong, deepening integration with China and expanding throughout Asia.”

Yang said: “2017 saw even fiercer competition in the local insurance market. However, FTLife rose against the market trend with strong growth momentum by achieving an impressive year-on-year growth of 20 percent in APE. We have a strong agency force and outstanding management team within FTLife. Our outlook is optimistic. With our concerted efforts, we will provide customers with even more competitive products and superior services as well as create sustainable value for our stakeholders.”

Etiqa divided into four separate entities

Etiqa, Maybank’s insurance arm has been divided into four different companies in order to focus on their respective business areas.

The resulting entities are divided on life and non-life lines, as well as takaful (Islamic) and conventional insurance types. The new companies are: Etiqa General Insurance, Etiqa Life Insurance, Etiqa General Takaful, and Etiqa Family Takaful.

According to a statement issued by Etiqa, the move will also reduce risks and increase stability as it seeks to find the most efficient shareholder, capital, and organisational structure for the firm.

The company has also appointed four new CEO’s to lead each entity.

The general insurance company will be led by Fukhairudin Mohd Yusof. Zaharudin Daud heads up the general takaful company and Zafri Ab Halim is in charge of family takaful operations.

Kamaludin Ahmad, CEO of the parent company, Maybank Ageas Holdings will be responsible for Etiqa Life Insurance in an interim capacity.

Etiqa currently distributes its products through 10,000 agents, 24 own branches, and 350 Maybank branches in Malaysia, as well as a growing online channel. It has also expanded to other markets in the Southeast Asian region, namely Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Lloyd's impressed by the Indian non-life insurance growth

Since liberalisation in 2000, the Indian non-life market has seen 12-15 percent growth each year, a phenomenon described as impressive by CEO of Lloyd’s, Inga Beale.

Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the 11th India Rendezvous 2018 in Mumbai, Beale said: “Very few markets in the world have shown such a double-digit growth.’’

Lloyd's set up its presence in India last year. Mentioning that it has been a long journey for Lloyd’s in India to arrive at this stage where Lloyd’s India branch is functioning today, Beale said: “From Lloyd’s perspective, we are very excited about working in India because we believe we can play a valuable supporting role – working in partnership with the local market.”

The three-day Rendezvous opened in Mumbai with more than 700 participants from over 30 countries, which is a record to date.

In her Global Keynote Address at the Rendezvous, Beale sounded a note of both caution and optimism for India.

Highlighting the country’s rapid urbanisation and the concentration of assets in these urban locations and the consequential enhanced risks, she said the Indian economy can be adversely affected if these critical aspects are not well taken care of.

Zeroing in on Mumbai, the Maximum City, she said: “It is a risky place where a lot of value is concentrated in a very small area. Lloyd’s is here to enhance the expertise of the local insurance market so that the emerging risks can be adequately covered and protected.”

Beale also noted the dramatic upsurge in agriculture insurance in India, and said that while this has contributed to a rise in insurance penetration in India, insurance penetration still remains very low by global benchmarks. This, however, provides a tremendous opportunity for the industry to make the most of it for the larger good.

Speaking about bringing in fresh talent into the insurance industry, Beale said: “It is our collective responsibility to sell the insurance story to young bright minds. There is a lot that young minds can contribute to the growth and development of the industry provided we can ignite their passion for the industry.”

As the world’s largest democracy and third largest economy in Asia, India has achieved a significant and stable economic growth despite the macroeconomic turbulence around the world.

However, there are no guarantees that these impressive growth rates are sustainable because India is exposed to increasing frequency of natural catastrophes, said Beale.

Lloyd’s Global Underinsurance Report of 2012 had said that a one percentage point increase in insurance penetration is associated with a reduced burden on the taxpayer of one fifth of estimated total damage in case of a loss.

Beale said: “The insurance industry can contribute a lot towards making the Indian economy more resilient. Lloyd’s can help support the expansion of insurance penetration in India and limit the economic impact of catastrophes.”

She added: “Lloyd’s will help create a thriving hub for reinsurance in India, accelerate the international growth of domestic insurers, and safeguard economic growth in the face of disasters.”

Marine hull insurance in Indonesia to grow 10% this year

The marine hull insurance business in Indonesia is expected to grow by 10 percent this year in terms of premiums, despite the fact that growth was flat in 2017, according to the General Insurance Association of Indonesia (AAUI).

The increase would hinge on whether or not the building and procurement of ships in Indonesia is as planned.

Data published by AAUI shows marine hull insurance premiums dipped by 0.4 percent to IDR1.16trn (US$81.2mn) for the first three quarters of 2017.

The cost of claims increased sharply by 30.2 percent to IDR930bn for the same period. The loss ratio jumped to 80.1 percent for the first nine months of 2017 from 61.4 percent for the corresponding period in 2016, reported Kontan.

AAUI executive director, Achmad Sudiyar Dalimunthe, said he was optimistic that the financial report for the fourth quarter of 2017 would show a positive performance in marine hull insurance. The government has provided various fiscal incentives for the shipbuilding and repairs industry.

Data from the Ministry of Industry (Kemenperin) shows there are 250 companies with a production capacity of at least 1mn DWT per year to build new ships and capable of reaching at least 12mn DWT per year for ship repairs.

Additionally, Achmad said that the Ministry of Transportation has expanded shipping routes, a move which is expected to increase the demand for ships to fill the routes.

Bank Indonesia issues warning against virtual currencies

Bank Indonesia has warned all parties not to sell, buy or trade virtual currencies (VCs), emphasising that VCs including bitcoin are not recognised as legitimate instruments of payment in the country.

“Ownership of virtual currency is highly risky and loaded with speculations, considering there is no authority responsible, no official administrator, no underlying assets to base the virtual currency price, and that the trade value is highly volatile,” said the Indonesian central bank in a recent statement.

“This means that virtual currencies are vulnerable to bubble risks, and susceptible to be used for money laundering and terrorism financing, therefore can potentially impact financial system stability and cause financial harm to society. All things considered, Bank Indonesia warns all parties not to sell, buy, or trade virtual currency.”

The central bank further highlighted that it forbids all payment system operators and financial technology operators in Indonesia, both bank and nonbank institutions, to process transactions using VCs.

This follows its regulation issued earlier this month to ban the use of VCs by FinTech companies involved in payment statements, though it had then not prohibited the trading of VCs, saying that it would examine whether there was a need to do so.

Meanwhile, the regulation of VCs is experiencing a roller coaster ride in Asia. South Korea, notably, has been divided between a tech-savvy nation whose young population quickly embraced investments in these currencies and a government concerned over their rapid rise.

Recently, an announcement by South Korean justice minister Park Sang-ki caused global bitcoin prices to plunge when he said the government was preparing legislation against the trading of VCs. An online petition signed by over 200,000 on the website of the president’s office opposed this.