Nov 11, 2014

International insurance companies to enter Myanmar insurance market

Foreign insurance companies have not been allowed to operate locally, only representative offices have been permitted. There are 14 insurance companies from Japan, the US, Europe and Asia countries that have opened representative offices in Myanmar.

"AIA Insurance Company expects to work for long in Myanmar. AIA intends to enter the life and health insurance markets. Life insurance market is one with huge potential. As only a representative office is allowed to be opened right now, we are ready to share technologies, training, experiences, administration, and information," said Sim Preston from AIA Insurance Company.

Currently, the companies that have opened representative offices in Myanmar are: Sompo Japan Insurance, Mitsui Sumi Tomo Insurance Co, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co, Taiyo-Life Insurance Co, Poema Insurance, American International Assurance Co, The Great Eastern Life Assurance Co, Prudential Holdings, ACE INA International Holdings, Pana Harrison (Asia) Pte, Manulife Financial Life Insurance and Willis Co.

"Permission has not been given, as we are worried that foreign insurance companies will not be able to compete with the local ones. They will be allowed when foreign investments are liberalised," said Maung Maung Thein, deputy minister at the Ministry of Finance.

Earlier this year, Myanma Insurance, the sole insurer in the country since 1952, took the dramatic step of ending its monopoly by allowing private companies to enter the market. Since then, 12 companies have been authorised to sell insurance, including some owned by the country's biggest banks and conglomerates, according to a Reuters report.

Under the new rules, which are due to be enacted as legislation later in the year, private companies can offer nine categories of life and general insurance, out of 48 categories recognised by the government. These include life insurance policies for athletes and victims of snake bite, and general insurance covering fire damage to property and comprehensive vehicle insurance.

Insurers are also required to show Ks 6 billion (US $6.2 million) in capital before they are allowed to offer life insurance policies and Ks 40 billion ($41.5 million) if they want to provide general insurance. In effect, this means that only the largest companies in the country are able to enter the industry.

Myanmar's insurance market is not developed yet but as the country with one of the highest population in Southeast Asia, insurance firms see huge potential for growth amid economic reforms.

Source: The Nation