Bullish stock market impacts policyholders

By Song Hongmei (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2007-05-21 15:04

Investment-linked insurance products and universal life policies were popular in the first quarter of this year in China as their premiums rose rapidly boosted by rising returns from stock market investments.

Data from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission showed that investment-linked insurance premiums surged 177.21 percent year-on-year to 3.11 billion yuan (US$405.4 million) in the first quarter of this year and universal life insurance premiums rose 60 percent to 18.31 billion yuan.

The booming stock market siphoned capital from the insurance sector. Those who invested in insurance products also hope to benefit from the bullish market, said an industry insider, adding that investment-linked life insurance is a good choice under the current market conditions.

Investment-linked insurance is a plan that offers life insurance protection as well as investment opportunity to the policyholder. The benefits of the plan are directly related to the performance of the investment-linked funds that are chosen by customers in accordance with their risk preference.

Its rate of return is higher than that of participating policies, which sell well in a bearish stock market with its three percent rate of return, and has gotten the attention of insurers.

Since the beginning of 2007, foreign and joint venture insurance companies including American International Assurance, AEGON-CNOOC and Skandia-BSAM have submitted applications to open investment-linked insurance accounts. Chinese insurance companies such as China Life and Union Life Insurance said they would soon present their new investment-linked insurance products.

The insurance regulator warned the general public of the risks related to investment-linked and universal life insurance policies such as misleading information during sales promotions when releasing their results in the first quarter.

Investment-linked and universal life insurance policies are mid-and-long-term investment products as their initial cost is rather high and the policyholder can not redeem their investment, unlike mutual fund investors who can redeem their shares each business day, the insider said.

He added that customers should buy investment products according to their risk preference.

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