Global insurer Allianz aims to maintain its expansion rate in three Southeast Asian growth markets, including Thailand, in line with the pace of the insurance industries in each country - and despite the prevailing challenges and risks.
Manuel Bauer, member of the board of management responsible for Insurance Growth Markets at the Germany-based insurance giant, told a media briefing during his visit to Thailand last week that the challenge for Allianz’s growth this year was how to manage downside risks from rapid economic changes and political risks in its regional growth-market areas.
These comprise 24 countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and China.
To him, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are among the key markets in Southeast Asia, the three countries having contributed a combined 18-per-cent in gross written premiums in terms of the company’s overall growth markets in 2012.
As to customers by region, Allianz’s growth markets account for 36.2 per cent of a total of 78 million customers in more than 70 markets.
In terms of gross premiums written, the growth markets contributed 8.3 per cent of a total of 49.6 billion euro (Bt2.21 trillion).
Allianz’s Thai unit, Allianz Ayudhya Assurance, has for more than 60 years been providing life and health insurance and covers over 1.4 million policyholders nationwide.
In Malaysia, Allianz is the market leader, collecting 251 million euro in premiums in 2013, some 19 per cent higher than a year earlier.
“Those markets are in a good place and we are determined to build the three [Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia] to grow in line with or higher than the markets,” he said.
Southeast Asia is a key focus for Allianz due to the region’s demographic trend, he said, pointing to the large number of younger people and rising living standards, which provide a good opportunity for insurance players.
Bauer, who has worked in the Asia-Pacific for 28 years, acknowledged that the upcoming Asean Economic Community presented a good opportunity for member states. However, Allianz is at this stage unsure that the integration of 10 markets will provide a value opportunity to the group, due to the unclear picture over AEC-wide regulations affecting the sector.
Meanwhile, he said the current volatility in global and emerging markets was a new form of unpredictability for the company because the pattern of crisis nowadays was unlike that experienced over the past decade.
The most important thing for Allianz, therefore, would be to maintain growth by placing emphasis on risk management, he stressed.
“Insurance is a business that must able to commit to long-term contracts with customers, especially the pay-out of a return when a policy reaches maturity. Allianz, which celebrates its 125th anniversary next year, will be able to get through many crises because the company will analyse policies based on the actual return to policyholders,” he added.