Round-up of the latest news and developments from the Asian insurance market with stories from Markel, BHSI, MS Amlin and more.
Markel receives go-ahead to write reinsurance on Lloyd’s India platform
Markel has gained approval from the Indian regulator to write reinsurance business in the country through the Lloyd’s India platform.
The licence from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India comes nearly a year after the carrier announced its intention to enter the Indian market.
Capacity will be provided by Markel’s Syndicate 3000 at Lloyd’s.
Markel India will provide treaty and facultative reinsurance to local primary carriers across several commercial classes. It will initially focus on marine, energy, contingency, and professional and financial risks.
As previously announced, the operation will be headed up by Deepika Mathur, who was most recently executive vice president at Indian-German joint venture HDFC Ergo where she oversaw casualty and financial lines business.
Markel International president William Stovin commented: “We think there will be a strong level of demand from Indian insurers for the sort of specialty products and expertise that we can now deliver locally.
“We are delighted that our plans in India can now start to be realised.”
Mathur added: “The Indian economy has had a stellar performance since the turn of the century and that has seen a parallel increase in the demand for newer and more specialised insurance products.
“That means we can bring our expertise to the local market and help in areas where businesses may be without the right insurance to protect themselves. We can help meet that need.”
BHSI picks Lingafelter as new Australasia leader
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) has appointed Mark Lingafelter to lead its Australasia operations, replacing Chris Colahan who becomes president of the carrier's UK and European business.
Colahan moves into the new position having served as president of the Australasia region since joining BHSI in February 2015. Prior to that, he was at RSA for nearly a decade, most recently serving as its Asia CEO. His new role will be based in London.
As such, BHSI has drafted in Mark Lingafelter to assume responsibility for the BHSI Australasia region from Colahan. Lingafelter joins from QBE, where he was most recently CUO for Asia Pacific. Before that, he spent more than 11 years as managing director at Chubb Insurance Company of Australia.
The move comes after former president and CEO of UK and Southern Europe, Tom Bolt, left BHSI to join AIG as its new general insurance CUO at the beginning of the year.
Commenting on the announcement, BHSI president and CEO Peter Eastwood said: “With more than 30 years of experience in the global insurance market, Mark is well qualified to lead our ongoing profitable growth in Australia and New Zealand. Chris has been a superb leader of BHSI in Australasia, and we look forward to adding his energy and expertise to our expanding European team and operations.”
Peak Re names Japan representative
Peak Re has appointed Satoshi Ichihara as chief representative of Japan to support the Hong Kong reinsurer’s growth in the country.
Ichihara was most recently Catlin’s chief representative in Japan before which he served several roles at Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance.
Peak Re said that the appointment demonstrates its “solid commitment to this key market”.
Peak Re CEO Franz Josef Hahn said: “It is a great pleasure to announce the appointment of Mr. Satoshi Ichihara as chief representative of Peak Re in Japan.
“Ichihara San brings extensive experience to the position. He will help us to further broaden and deepen our relationships with clients in Japan. We will continue to offer strong support and service to the Japan market and grow with our partners into the future.”
Last month, the reinsurer appointed one of its co-founders, Stephen Roder, as an independent non-executive director of the firm, who returns to Peak Re after five years at Manulife.
MS Amlin makes trio of appointments in Singapore expansion
MS Amlin has strengthened its Asia Pacific team with a trio of Singapore-based underwriting appointments.
Neal Thomas joins the carrier as a property and casualty (P&C) underwriter, having most recently served as head of P&C at Swiss Re Asia since 2008. Prior to his time in Singapore, he was responsible for the onshore energy and mining team in Swiss Re’s London office.
Vivian Kuay has been appointed as a cargo underwriter. She most recently assistant vice president at Marsh, where she built and lead its cargo account in Singapore, developing the broker’s project cargo business in the Asia and Middle East Region.
Meanwhile, Sam Pik Ying joins as a P&I Underwriter. Initially involved in claims for Asia Capital Reinsurance, handling both non-marine treaty and facultative reinsurance claims, she moved to Standard Club Asia in 2011, where she was responsible for underwriting shipowner’s and charterer’s liability insurance for Asia based ship operators.
Simon Clarke, CEO of MS Amlin Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, commented:“We are committed to growing our presence in the Asia market and I am delighted to welcome these three new members to the team.
“Their knowledge and experience of the local market will prove invaluable as we look to expand our proposition and continue to enhance services for our brokers and clients.”
South Korea to lower entry barrier for reinsurers
South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) has announced that it would lower the entry barriers for reinsurers as it aims to encourage the establishment of new players in the country’s reinsurance market.
The commission’s move, announced on 4 June, is intended to revitalise competition among non-life insurers in Korea. Currently, the market is dominated by Korean Re.
According to a report in Business Korea, there is currently almost no price competition among domestic non-life insurers in South Korea, who all use the same insurance premium rates provided by reinsurance companies or the Korea Insurance Development Institute.
The incorporation of further reinsurers is expected to stimulate price competition by pushing non-life insurers to improve their capacity to assess corporate risks.
Until then, insurers will continue to calculate premiums based on their own underwriting experience and statistics, as well as the premium rates provided by the Korea Insurance Development Institute.
South Korea's insurance law will be amended to allow the liberalisation move. The amendment to the law will be drafted in the first half of this year and the FSC will push for its enactment in the second half of the year.
ZhongAn to build blockchain-based reinsurance platform
Chinese InsurTech company ZhongAn is working with Shanghai’s insurance regulatory bureau to build a blockchain-based reinsurance platform, according to reports.
In an article published by the South China Morning Post, ZhongAn’s online property and casualty technology unit chief Chen Wei said the technology will help improve security and the traceability of reinsured policies.
“We are trying to combine blockchain with real life scenarios,” said Chen, adding that ZhongAn Tech, the specialised technology incubator of ZhongAn, has a dedicated team to explore avant-garde technologies.
ZhongAn is China’s first digital insurer founded by Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma Yun, Tencent Holdings chairman Pony Ma Huateng, and Ping An Insurance chairman Peter Ma Mingzhe in 2013.
In 2016, it launched ZhongAn Tech, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ZhongAn, to explore technology innovation focusing on four main areas: artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and data driven.
According to Chen, ZhongAn Tech now serves about 10 Chinese insurers, helping them to better tailor their services and improve risk analysis.
He added that the incubator has already used blockchain to store all insurance policies from its parent ZhongAn Online in a secure manner.
Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies, is a digital data structure that is most recognised for verifying and recording transactions using a network of computers rather than a centralised authority.
Blockchain and its applications have gained ground in China over the past year despite a crackdown by the authorities on the trading of cryptocurrencies, which rely upon the blockchain technology.
“Insurance is backed by statistics and blockchain will help to connect that massive and varied data,”said Chen, who believes that the technology will play a “tremendous role”in transforming China’s centuries-old insurance sector according to the report.
“It will be used to manage risk and improve pricing,” he added.
Chen said the company already has data-sharing agreements with over 100 hospitals in China to streamline record verification and automatic claims.
“Insurance sales used to rely on agents and individual sales people, however younger generations prefer making online purchases,” Chen said.
“Insurance clients no longer need to file paper documents as proof, instead they can just say when and which hospital they attended,”he added.
PICC gets green light for Shanghai IPO
The China Securities Regulatory Commission has approved a proposed IPO by the People's Insurance Company (Group) of China (PICC).
The state-owned (re)insurer, already listed in Hong Kong, applied to issue up to 4.6 billion shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, according to the company's prospectus filed with the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).
The IPO is expected to raise at least 10bn yuan (c.$1.6bn), according to analysts.
PICC will be joining four other major insurers, including Ping An Insurance and China Life Insurance, to be listed on the both Hong Kong and the domestic A-share market.
This will be the first (re)insurance IPO on the A-share market since 2011.
Indian regulator to allow reinsurers to invest in overseas sovereign bonds
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) may allow reinsurance companies to invest in overseas financial instruments in an effort to reduce the risk of their global portfolio and promote the country as a major reinsurance hub, according to reports.
A source close to the development told The Economics Times that the insurance regulator is working on relaxing investment norms for reinsurance companies, allowing them to invest outside India to diversify their risks.
“IRDAI is likely to allow these companies to invest in sovereign debt of other countries with A- and above rating. IRDAI is studying the regulations of other countries,” they added.
GIC Re currently remains the only active domestic reinsurance company in India, however other foreign reinsurance companies that have set up branches in India are increasing their share.
Foreign reinsurers can only take a 50 percent share of the premium earned in India to their parent, while the remainder has to be invested in the country.
Eight foreign reinsurance companies currently operate through branches in India, including Munich Re, Swiss Re, SCOR, Hannover Re, and ITI Reinsurance, although a number of others are awaiting approval from IRDAI.
Another source told the publication: “All reinsurance companies registered with IRDAI will be allowed to invest outside India to diversify the risk. This will need a change in regulations and IRDAI will have to come up with a notification. The regulations will be an outcome of a consultative process involving all stakeholders.”