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EC News Asia Edition (31st October 2018)

  • Publish Date: Posted over 5 years ago
  • Author:by Alan Jarque

Round-up of the latest news and developments from the Asian insurance market with stories from TMK, Canopius, RFIB and more.

Singapore to set up world's first cyber risk insurance pool

Singapore will take the lead in assisting Asian economies, particularly in the ASEAN region, to tackle cyber risk and will set up the world's first cyber risk insurance pool with a capacity of $1bn.

The pool will be established in partnership with the Singapore Reinsurers’ Association and cyber specialist Peter Hacker and has already received interest from 20 insurance companies.

Singapore’s Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat announced this in his keynote address at the opening of the 15th Singapore International Reinsurance Conference (SIRC) yesterday. He mentioned how Asia was most vulnerable to cyber attacks and how more than 60 percent of Asian companies did not have any cyber security in place.

He said: “We need to invest in cyber security to prevent and deter attacks, and also mitigate the consequences of attacks through better risk pooling,”

Heng also announced the setting up of the Global-Asia Insurance Partnership that would drive a strategic response to tackle long-term challenges and coordinate cross-cutting issues spanning the different industry segments within and outside the insurance sector, as well as draw synergies across industry, policymakers and academia. “We need to collectively pool expertise and co-create innovative solutions in pertinent issues such as digital innovation, talent and government policies,” he said.

The minister said that through this centre of excellence, the goal is to set up a living lab that would develop solutions for new risks; a regulatory think tank that will conduct independent research to support policy decisions that would help in mitigating risks and a talent development pillar that will train a pipeline of insurance talents with cutting-edge skills in emerging areas like big data and artificial intelligence.

AIG’s president and CEO, Brian Duperreault, in a fireside chat with the BBC’s Rico Hizon spoke of the huge opportunities that exist in Asia for insurers due to the region's high GDP growth and low insurance penetration.

“China and India present huge opportunities and so do countries in the ASEAN region and also Japan and so companies need to have a special strategy for Asia,” he said.

He mentioned too that InsurTech firms are making the whole process of insurance buying easier for the end buyer. He said: “The ultimate value for the industry is coming from AI, data science and the development of algorithms that are making things more efficient for the industry.”

Yet, InsurTech firms are not willing to take the risks, an opportunity which is passed instead onto traditional insurers.

Duperreault mentioned that AIG is ready to splurge on a company that complements its business and it is always on the lookout for such acquisitions. “Acquisitions will happen around the world as it is a natural way of survival of the fittest and I would pick up a company that complements our business and is in synergy with us in terms of technology, people and processes,’ he said.

Tokio Marine Kiln reshuffles Asian operations

Tokio Marine Kiln (TMK) has announced the reorganisation of its Asian operations based primarily in Singapore with supporting offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The company will be closing its Hong Kong office with immediate effect and making arrangements over the next six months for the orderly runoff of the business.

The decision was made after re-assessing the ongoing, challenging market for the Engineering, Marine Cargo and Marine Liability lines written out of Hong Kong which have made the cost of maintaining the office unsustainable.

Group CEO, Charles Franks commented: “Our Hong Kong team have all made huge contributions to our efforts in Asia and we will do all we can to support them through this difficult time.

We remain however, firmly committed to our Asian strategy and our Singapore and Shanghai offices will continue to operate and pursue their respective growth strategies; focusing on Accident & Health, Aviation, Marine Cargo, Trade Credit, Political Risks, Property, Agriculture Treaty Reinsurance and Property Treaty Reinsurance business throughout Asia.

We also appreciate the dedication of our Singapore and Shanghai teams as they continue to support our ambitions in the region. They will help to manage the runoff of the Hong Kong business in a professional and organised way.”

Canopius announces key appointments for Asia Pacific expansion

Canopius has revealed the latest in a series of key appointments that support its continued expansion spanning the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, building on the solid base already achieved over the 10 years since its Singapore office opened.

Canopius’s regional proposition has been bolstered with the appointments of Mathew Gundersen as head of operations APAC & MENA and Paul Hackett as head of marine, energy and engineering, APAC & MENA.

Additionally, Dale Taylor will join the company as property underwriting leader in December with Matt Bird joining as Crisis Management Underwriter for the region in January. All of the appointees will be based in the Singapore office.

These announcements follow the arrival of Yann Marmonier as head of insurance APAC & MENA and the recently announced appointment of Nattakorn Wattanaumphaipong as head of reinsurance Asia Pacific

Commenting on the appointments, Canopius CEO APAC & MENA, Mark Newman said: “As we build on the very sound base we have already achieved, we are strengthening our regional infrastructure in keeping with our underwriting expansion and ambitions. It is exciting to see that our growth plans and entrepreneurial spirit are attracting high-calibre talent. Our new colleagues share our desire to focus on professional specialty underwriting that supports our clients, providing an enhanced proposition that will make the most of the many opportunities that exist in Asia Pacific.”

RFIB appoints Simon McCrum as Managing Director Asia Pacific

RFIB has appointed Simon McCrum as managing director, Asia Pacific at RFIB Singapore.

McCrum assumes his position with immediate effect reporting to regional head of Asia Pacific, Chris Bracegirdle and, subject to the appropriate regulatory approvals, will be based in their Singapore office.

McCrum boasts 31 years of experience in the insurance and reinsurance market to RFIB.

He joins the firm from Willis Towers Watson, where he served as president director Indonesia. McCrum began his insurance and reinsurance career in Lloyd’s in 1987 prior to moving to Hong Kong in 1991 where he worked for the Guardian Royal Exchange. Since then McCrum has held senior positions both in Asia and across the Middle East regions.

Bracegirdle said: “I am delighted to welcome Simon to RFIB. Simon joins at a very exciting time for the Group as we look to expand and grow our business in Asia. Simon has a wealth of experience in the region and will enhance both our existing relationships together with building new ones with partners who value an independent, flexible and creative broker who puts them at the centre of our business.”

McCrum said: “This is a very exciting time to join RFIB as we further develop, build and execute our Asia Pacific strategy and growth plans and to capitalise on the excellent successes that the Group has already achieved in this exciting region. I look forward to working with the growing team at RFIB Singapore in developing our network of partners and clients across the region.”

Asia Pacific will remain our core: Peak Re’s Chris Kershaw

China is a big part of Peak Re’s current portfolio and will continue to be so, while the increasing opportunities in India have only just started to be addressed, according to the company’s managing director of global markets, Chris Kershaw.

In a recent interview with Reinsurance News Kershaw laid out his thoughts on the current growth trajectory of Peak Re, the opportunities that remain throughout Asia and the innovation that may be needed to fully realise them.

He said: “Asia-Pacific will remain our core and we believe there is strong underlying growth there,”

“We firmly believe the opportunity is there on the property and casualty (P&C) as well as on life and health (L&H) side, in building a relevant and viable business that serves clients well.”

“Our business model is not built on underwriting the market,” he continued, “it is very much built around working closely with a selective number of clients to build sustainable returns for both sides, over time.”

Indeed, Peak Re’s Asia-Pacific focus has played a significant role in its recent premium income growth. The reinsurer reported premium income of $671.2mn for the first six months of 2018, compared with $472.4mn for the same period last year, representing year-on-year growth of just over 42 percent.

Asked whether, moving forward, adaptation and innovation would be required to successfully navigate the emerging markets throughout Asia, Kershaw stated that bringing fresh thinking to new problems will be important in modernising the business.

Kershaw added: “This is something that we’ve felt very strongly that we’ve wanted to do since day one,”

“We know that, given the way the life reinsurance business has worked, the industry may not have the immediate answer. But, we are certainly open to looking at different ways of doing things.”

“It’s always been part of our mandate and our role, to bring this process forward. We are not a market leader, but step-by-step we’ve actually influenced some thinking, and that’s the ambition.”

Commenting on whether not he sees growth on the life side coming from outside Japan – a country that boasts strong pricing power and the use of standard mortality rates, allowing particularly high margins on protection-type products – Kershaw said: “Very much so. And I think it’s very important to think about life and health together.”

“We may find there is more of an opportunity for us on the health side at this stage, simply due to the way life reinsurance has been transacted traditionally.”

“We restarted our L&H business about two years ago, we are continuing to build that out,” he added. “There is unquestionably an opportunity when you have 3 billion people on your doorstep, and I think it will be foolish to put that one side away and say, we are not going to look at that. I think it clearly is an opportunity.”

Aon appoints Elliott as benefits concierge in health and benefits team

Aon has named Lauren Elliott as benefits concierge in its specialties' health & benefits team in a major boost to the company's commitment to expanding its client advocacy model.

The new appointment allows Aon to provide a white glove service to those individuals requiring a health assessment in the group life insurance space.

Reporting to health and benefits director, people risk at Aon, Stuart Whitbread, and working with the broader people risk leadership team, Elliott will be tasked with driving the Aon’s concierge service offering to executives and corporate members.

She joins the firm following ten years’ of experience in customer service roles, including positions supporting senior management.

Datuk Oh Chong Peng named as chairman of Labuan FSA

The Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA) has announced that the Minister of Finance has approved the appointment of Datuk Oh Chong Peng as the chairman of Labuan FSA effective from 16 October 2018 until 15 February 2020.

Datuk Oh has experience in financial and other business sectors. He is currently the non-executive director of British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Berhad, Malayan Flour Mills Berhad, Dialog Group Berhad, Kumpulan Europlus Berhad, PUC Berhad and a trustee of UTAR Education Foundation.  

Datuk Oh previously served as chairman of the Alliance Financial Group until his retirement from the Board in 2017. He was also a partner of Coopers & Lybrand Malaysia and government-appointed member of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (now known as Bursa Malaysia) as well as the Malaysian Accounting Standards Board.