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Swiss Re flags China as most important market for growth

By CAO YINGYING | China Daily | Updated: 2020-11-05 10:03
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Swiss Re, one of the world's leading reinsurance companies, has said China is its most important growth market and will become the world's largest insurance market.

Swiss Re was founded in 1863 and started business in China in 1995 as one of the first international reinsurers to enter the country. The company anticipates and manages a range of risks from natural catastrophes to climate change, from aging populations to cybercrime.

"We remain hugely optimistic about China. As the country is opening up its financial sector, it is expected to contribute 60 percent of additional premiums in Asia in the next decade," said Russell Higginbotham, CEO of Reinsurance Asia of Swiss Re, in an interview with China Daily.

The strong confidence is thanks to increasing domestic consumption, government initiatives and more "insurtech"-or insurance technology-solutions led by digitalization from production to consumption in China, according to the company.

In recent years, China has improved the opening-up of its financial industry, including measures to relax foreign share ownership restrictions in the insurance sector.

"It's a milestone for many global brands to enter the Chinese market and illustrates the government's determination to offer a fairer and more transparent business environment," Higginbotham said.

Other national strategies-including "the Healthy China 2030", regional integration and development plans, such as the Yangtze River Delta region, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development-present huge opportunities for foreign reinsurers and insurers, he added.

"We have witnessed the transformation of China's insurance industry to become the world's second-largest insurance market, and we will be there when it becomes the world's biggest.

"Swiss Re will continue to leverage the knowledge and research and development capabilities to partner with the clients to develop innovative, technology-based solutions which help close protection gaps and deliver better products and services to the end-consumer," Higginbotham said.

The company has launched some innovative solutions in China. One of these is the Agricultural Insurance Risk Management Platform, which aims to help to narrow the protection gap for agriculture in China. It offers an automatic index product design engine that helps insurance companies develop index products and offer protection to farmers in short time and saves more than 90 percent of the time taken with the previous method.

The company also launched a first-ever fully digital environmental risk assessment platform, providing systematic analysis and pragmatic improvement measures to address the industry's pain point. In the life and health sector, it also has Magnum, an automated underwriting system that helps insurers when selling products and guides customers to the right insurance products.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Swiss Re carried out a survey in China and found some positive signals.

The survey shows awareness and understanding of insurance has increased with Chinese consumers more keen to add on to their policies because of the pandemic, and consumers' strong preference for an end-to-end online experience when interacting with insurers and making insurance decisions.

A paradigm shift in the global supply chain to mitigate future business disruption risks will give rise to new pockets of growth. The relocation of production out of China will likely give rise to new opportunities in sectors like property and engineering, especially in emerging markets, according to Swiss Re.

"The dynamics generated by three new trends of infrastructure, economy and consumption will accelerate the digitalization of the insurance industry and create new insurance ecosystems," Higginbotham said.

The company is participating for the first time in the third China International Import Expo, held in Shanghai from Nov 5-10.

"Transforming tomorrow together is our theme. As one of the world's leading risk knowledge and risk management companies, Swiss Re is committed to working with its clients and partners to close the protection gap and make the world more resilient," Higginbotham said at the CIIE.





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