Round-up of the latest news and developments from the Asian insurance market with stories from Guy Carpenter, Lloyd's, Markel and more.
Qatar Re to cease underwriting from Singapore branch
Qatar Re has announced that it is to cease writing new and renewal business from its branch office in Singapore, effective from 20 July 2018.
The company will work closely with its Singapore-based staff, its clients and broking partners and regulators to ensure the orderly administration of existing business written from the branch.
The decision does not affect Antares Asia (Qatar Re’s sister company), which continues to participate on the Lloyd’s Asia platform.
Qatar Re’s CEO, Gunther Saacke commented: “Like many of our peers, we have been looking very closely at our business with a view to enhancing underwriting profitability and operational efficiency in what continues to be a very challenging environment for global reinsurers. As a reinsurer committed to the long-term sustainability of our business, it is appropriate that we should continue to reflect on the performance of our underwriting portfolio and the effectiveness of our distribution network and to adapt our approach where we believe this to be in the best interests of the company, our policyholders and our shareholder. We remain committed to providing the highest levels of service to all our clients and broking partners across our global franchise.”
Guy Carpenter names Johnsen as president & head of SEAK
Guy Carpenter has appointed Bengt Johnsen as president and head of the South East Asia and Korea (SEAK) region, succeeding Richard Jones who was promoted to chairman of the Asia Pacific region in August 2017.
Johnsen will be based in Singapore and will report to Tony Gallagher, CEO of Asia Pacific.
Assuming his new role on 18 January 2019, Johnsen will oversee Guy Carpenter’s activities in the SEAK region and will be responsible for further developing its local capabilities to help clients drive profitable growth.
Commenting on the appointment, Gallagher said: “Bengt is an ideal choice to lead Guy Carpenter forward in the SEAK region. He brings decades of experience building highly successful client-relationships, extensive industry expertise and impressive local market knowledge to Guy Carpenter. I have confidence that Bengt will further enhance and grow our business in the region”.
Lloyd’s launches new digital distribution platform
Lloyd’s has developed a new digital distribution platform, Lloyd’s Bridge, designed to quickly, easily and efficiently connect insurance businesses and entrepreneurs with Lloyd’s underwriters.
Lloyd’s Bridge is an online platform that matches insurance businesses with underwriters from the Lloyd’s market, enabling these businesses to underwrite certain policies on behalf of Lloyd’s as Lloyd’s coverholders.
The pilot programme will initially be available in the UK, Australia and New Zealand with access being extended to more markets throughout 2019 as part of a global roll out.
Lloyd’s said it is committed to continuing to grow through the broker distribution channel, with brokers having access to the platform if they act as a coverholder or are acting on behalf of a coverholder.
Bruce Carnegie-Brown chairman of Lloyd’s said: “All over the world Lloyd’s has an enviable reputation as the leading insurance marketplace and it remains the most sought after destination for insurance solutions. In an age of digital disruption, however, our partners in both established and fast growth markets are increasingly looking for new ways to access our market.
“Lloyd’s Bridge offers the ideal platform to do this quickly, easily and efficiently. It will enable coverholders in different parts of the world to benefit from easier access to Lloyd’s expertise, underwriting talent, significant capacity and financial security.”
Lloyd’s Bridge is the latest in a series of moves to use technology to create opportunities for Lloyd’s to provide even better customer service, enhance underwriting decisions and make operations more efficient.
Lloyd’s has already decided to mandate the use of electronic placement with 80 percent of business to be placed electronically by the end of 2019. Lloyd’s also announced the establishment of a new innovation accelerator, the Lloyd’s Lab, and launched a global recruitment drive for top tech talent.
Additionally, Lloyd's has plans to launch a new underwriting portal that will enable coverholders to quote, underwrite risks and issue policies on behalf of Lloyd’s syndicates.
Vincent Vandendael Lloyd’s chief commercial officer added: “Lloyd’s is the leading global insurance market and it has doubled in size since 2000. We know that more and more business is being placed locally. Currently, around 30% of Lloyd’s premium is placed through coverholders – local insurance business writing policies on behalf of Lloyd’s – and we are keen to continue to invest in this way of doing business.
“As we continue to grow and expand our international business we are committed to enhancing the service and access we provide to our customers’ changing needs. By providing coverholders with quick and easy access to our market, Lloyd’s Bridge will transform how we do business at Lloyd’s.”
Markel licensed to write reinsurance business on Lloyd’s India platform
Markel International has been granted a licence by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to write reinsurance business in the country.
Capacity will be provided by Markel’s Syndicate 3000 at Lloyd’s and written through the Lloyd’s India platform.
Markel India will provide treaty and facultative reinsurance to local Indian insurers, in a broad range of commercial classes starting with marine, energy, contingency, and professional and financial risks.
Deepika Mathur will spearhead Markel India. Mathur has 20 years’ experience in the Indian insurance industry, most recently as executive vice president at HDFC Ergo, the Indian/German joint venture general insurance company, with responsibility for the casualty and financial lines business.
Mathur commented: “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.”
William Stovin, president of Markel International, said: “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.”
ZhongAn enters strategic alliance to drive auto insurance
ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance has entered into a strategic cooperation framework agreement with Shanghai Cango Investment and Management Consultation Service to serve the automotive retail industry.
By offering insurance in a new automotive ecosystem that also spans areas including; automotive retail, finance and aftermarket auto parts, the alliance between two industry leaders aims to become a new driver in the auto insurance industry.
They aim to deliver more convenient, intelligent and attentive financial and insurance services as well as innovative products for the users of both parties.
ZhongAn will tap its leading position in online insurance-related technology and big data risk control. Cango, a leading technology-enabled automotive transaction service platform in China with its own extensive geographic coverage and strong customer acquisition capabilities, will provide offline support and an online traffic portal.
Duan Ling, assistant to the general manager at Cango, and Wang Yu, president of ZhongAn Automobile Group, said that the goal of the cooperation between the two parties is to create a three-in-one eco-chain that covers “people, vehicles and finance”.
Based on ZhongAn’s big data algorithm together with Cango’s extensive business network spanning the country, the new platform is to offer precise product pushes and scenario-based financial services to make a switch from “people looking for services” to “services looking for people”.
According to the agreement, the two parties will work together on creating online and offline scenarios; building a shared technology system platform; improving data modeling, collection and analysis capabilities; and exploring more big data applications, like UBI applications, to empower all participants across the automotive ecosystem.
Cango was founded in 2010 by a group of pioneers in China’s auto finance industry. The company is headquartered in Shanghai and has a nationwide coverage.
ZhongAn started operations in October 2013 and has developed ecosystem-oriented insurance products and solutions through scenario-based settings to serve its customers. The company predominantly offers products and solutions in five major ecosystems, namely lifestyle consumption, consumer finance, health, auto and travel.
Merger of 3 state owned non-life insurers may be delayed
The merger of the three state-owned non-life insurance companies - National Insurance, Oriental Insurance and United India Insurance - is likely to be effected after next March.
A hint of this was given when the central government shortlisted chief executives for the three insurers, suggesting that there is no hurry for them to be merged, reports Times of India.
The government originally indicated that it would like to complete the merger by March 2019.
Another indication of a delay is that while 16 July has been fixed as the last date for receipt of expression of interest from consultants for the merger exercise, the government has yet to announce the date for final presentations.
Given that the consultants will have to analyse the business network, the products and the IT systems of the three insurers that are headquartered separately in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, the final report is expected to take several months.
Only four insurers meet new capital requirement so far
One life and three non-life insurers have to date raised their paid-up capital to the required minimum level, ahead of a deadline for insurance companies to meet the requirement.
Nepal Life Insurance is the only firm among 18 life insurers in operation to have raised the paid-up capital as required to date, according to the insurance sector regulator, Beema Samiti.
In the non-life sector, Himalayan General Insurance, Shikhar Insurance and Neco Insurance have met the regulatory capital requirement out of 20 non-life insurers in the market, according to a report.
As per a directive titled ‘Insurer registration and operation of insurance business’ issued by Beema Samiti two years ago, insurance companies have to raise their paid-up capital to NPR1bn ($9.1mn), four times the previous requirement of NPR250mn for non-life insurers, and to NPR2bn from the previous NPR500mn for life insurers by 15 July 2018.
The directive, however, provides for insurers to apply for an extension. The Beema Samiti can then allow an additional three months for insurers to meet the paid-up capital requirement.
Chiranjibi Chapagain, Beema Samiti chairman, said that the regulatory body will encourage insurance companies to combine if they are unable to raise their paid-up capital to the required level within the given time.
Beema Samiti has barred the promoters of the insurers to obtain loans from financial institutions to raise the capital.
The regulator granted licences to nine new life insurance companies and three non-life insurers last year. They joined nine life insurers and 17 non-life insurance companies already in operation.