Bancassurance in Asia

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Traditionally, the main distribution channel for insurance in China has been through agents. However, with the introduction of bancassurance this has changed. The bancassurance models followed in China are distribution and joint ventures. The effect of bancassurance in the first quarter of 2010, was an increase in total premium income to $26.91 billion, up 44% compared with the same period of 2009, this represents 8% higher compared to the overall insurance industry growth within the same period. (Cotham, 2010) The main contributing factors for this trend have been the rapid growth of the Chinese economy leading to higher per capital income and the multiple economic reforms leading foreign companies to enter the insurance industry. In addition, the regulations introduced in 2003 played a major factor for the bancassurance growth. These regulations permitted banks to have multiple insurers as suppliers (“many-to-many” model). For instance, some major banks worked with 30 different suppliers for life insurance, and as many as 10 for property and casualty insurance. (Paribas, 2012) Although this model created growth, recently it has contributed to the slow down in the bancassurance market. Through this model, numerous complex insurance products were created and offered to clients by bank staff with minimal insurance expertise. As a result, demand decreased due to the lack of consumer understanding of the product and lack of trust. In addition, other major challenges in the bancassurance market are the financial market volatility (which makes insurance products less appealing compared to other wealth management products), intense competition and constant changes in regulations (particularly the introduction of CBRC 90 which prohibits insurance salesman from selling in banks). In turn, sales have declined. For instance, in 2011, sales through the bancassurance channel declined significantly and were blamed for an overall slowdown in premiums growth, from 29...
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