Kuala Lumpur, 28 November 2018 – Malaysian Reinsurance Berhad (Malaysian Re), a wholly owned subsidiary of MNRB Holdings Berhad (MNRB) together with Zurich-based research agency, Dr Schanz, Alms & Co. today launched the second edition of its annual regional Thought Leadership publication, ASEAN Insurance Pulse at the ASEAN Insurance Summit 2018. ASEAN Insurance Pulse 2018 was launched by Adnan Zaylani Mohamad Zahid, Assistant Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and witnessed by YBhg. Dato Sharkawi Alis, Chairman of MNRB Group, Mohd Din Merican, President & Group Chief Executive Officer of MNRB and Zainudin Ishak, President & Chief Executive Officer of Malaysian Re.
This year’s ASEAN Insurance Pulse is based on in-depth, structured interviews with 41 executives from all 10 ASEAN countries. The 2018 edition shines a spotlight on the region’s protection gaps and explores remedies to the gap between total economic disaster losses and the small fraction of those which are insured.
“The ASEAN Insurance Pulse 2018 pools together the region’s insurance wisdom and insights to identify the root causes of protection gaps and solicits the participants for pragmatic solutions,” said Zainudin Ishak. He added, “To most of the senior executives interviewed, non-life protection gaps are a severe threat to their respective countries’ economic growth and societal progress. To close the gap between economic and insured losses, recommendations range from enhanced public-private partnerships (PPP), the introduction of subsidised schemes, the provision of tax incentives and compulsory insurance requirements to awareness and education campaigns. We hope that with these suggestions and the intelligible findings, our second edition of the ASEAN Pulse will again provoke some deep, thoughtful and productive discussions, and contribute to development of equitable protections for the ASEAN population.”
The second edition of ASEAN Insurance Pulse also offers an authoritative overview of the current state and prospects of the region’s US$28 billion non-life insurance markets. “Taking the pulse of some of the region’s key insurance executives who are highly attuned to protection gaps and their implications for the region’s insurance markets and economies, this year’s survey highlights the relevance of insurance as an effective means of risk mitigation and resilience building across ASEAN,” said Dr. Kai-Uwe Schanz, Chairman and Partner at Dr. Schanz, Alms & Company.
The publication of ASEAN Insurance Pulse is a platform for Malaysian Re to underline its commitment in supporting the integration of the regional market place and providing its insurance community with an important benchmark for strategic and operational decision-making. “We are convinced that this effort will ultimately benefit all market participants and enhance the prosperity of the ASEAN insurance landscape at large”, said Zainudin.
About Malaysian Re
Malaysian Reinsurance Berhad (Malaysian Re) is a wholly owned subsidiary of MNRB Holdings Berhad (MNRB). As the national reinsurer, Malaysian Re continues to enhance the competitiveness and efficiency of the local insurance companies in an increasingly globalised marketplace through its active involvement in providing effective risk solutions. Leveraging on its breadth and depth of experience and expertise, strong fundamentals and proven record of accomplishment, Malaysian Re has grown in stature as an international player having established a strong market presence in Asia and the Middle East.
For more information, please visit www.malaysian-re.com.my.
Findings from ASEAN Insurance Pulse 2018
Governments urged to contribute to narrowing protection gaps
Protection gaps can adversely affect economic growth and societal progress in ASEAN. The executives polled are concerned that large uninsured non-life disaster losses can undermine the fiscal position of countries and impair their ability to recover swiftly following a catastrophic event. This risk is heightened as a result of urbanisation and rising asset concentration.
The ASEAN insurers interviewed hope for a more active role of the public sector. Subsidised schemes as in agricultural insurance, tax incentives as well as compulsory insurance requirements are among the suggested remedies to narrow protection gaps. On the other hand, insurers acknowledge their shortcomings, too, such as the failure to build awareness, both in terms of exposures and available risk solutions, as well as a lack of sufficiently innovative and suitable products.
Overall, healthcare was mentioned most frequently as the largest protection gap in ASEAN. Due to rising per capita incomes and customer expectations, in combination with medical inflation and – in some countries – an ageing population, public health schemes reach their limits. Ranked second, natural disasters are virtually uninsured in some ASEAN countries, with disastrous consequences for public budgets, private savings and business continuity. Property, especially residential cover, features third, as risk awareness among homeowners remains low.
Most executives identified a lack of awareness, education and financial literacy as the main root causes of the region’s non-life protection gaps. Many people are neither aware of their real exposures nor the role of insurance in risk mitigation. Culture and mind-set as well as a lack of affordability of insurance products are further reasons.
New (digital) technologies which enable innovative ways of buying and using insurance products are viewed as the most promising approach to narrowing non-life protection gaps. Also, more relevant insurance products are needed such as those which are need-based (both in terms of price and cover). In addition, compulsory insurance schemes would create large risk communities and risk pools and, therefore, improve the availability and affordability of retail and wholesale insurance.
Personal lines business rebounds
According to the interviewees, strong premium growth, the region’s favourable demographics with a comparatively young population and its growing middle classes are the main strengths of the ASEAN insurance markets. Market opportunities arise as digital technologies and advanced analytics improve the affordability and appeal of insurance products. While the region’s non-life insurance penetration is still less than a third of the global average, microinsurance is expected to expand as technology reduces the cost of distribution and claims settlement.
Across the ASEAN markets, current rates in commercial lines are perceived below their three-year average, while personal lines are assessed more favourably. From a fundamental point of view, personal lines are characterised by a smaller number of players, higher barriers to entry, greater customer loyalty and more scope for differentiation through non-price competition, e.g. product innovation.
The pricing outlook for the next 12 months is mixed, as half of the executives interviewed expect further rate decreases in commercial lines, while only 23% (versus 57% last year) of interviewees expect continued pressure on rates in personal lines. This more positive outlook reflects the expectation that rates will rebound from last year’s de-tariffication in Malaysia and generally the need and scope for repricing in order to respond to increasing claims inflation.
In commercial lines, for more than half of the interviewees, profitability is below the three-year average as a number of major recent losses have taken their toll. In personal lines only a third of executives think that technical profitability is below the three-year average as personal accident, travel, household insurance as well as the bancassurance business performed strongly. About half of the executives interviewed expect the technical profitability in commercial lines to erode further, while in personal lines the profitability outlook is more sanguine as executives cite tightened underwriting discipline, further scope for technology-based efficiency gains, a strong inherent premium growth momentum and benefits from profitability-driven risk-based pricing.
A growing number of interviewees expect a market consolidation in the next 12 months as some domestic insurers might struggle to raise the additional capital needed to meet new risk-based and higher minimum capital requirements. In addition, the effective freeze on new insurance licenses in a number of countries plays out in favour of a higher market concentration.