Muang Thai Life Assurance will open a representative office soon in Myanmar to cash in on the rich potential of the market, which boasts a large population and a booming economy.
“We will prepare our infrastructure and build our brand in Myanmar and we will study other neighbouring countries, because we believe life insurance will prosper from the coming of the AEC,” Sara Lamsam, president and chief executive officer, said in reference to the Asean Economic Community.
The office will provide information on life insurance to companies and financial institutions in Myanmar. It is not allowed to sell insurance products. However, when the regulatory framework is in place for foreign companies to market life insurance here, the company will be all set to do business through a joint venture or independent model.
The Myanmar Insurance Business Supervisory Board has granted permits to 12 local insurance companies to start operating. Muang Thai Life Assurance is the first Thai and the fifth foreign insurer to receive permission to establish a representative office.
Muang Thai Life will this year also look at opportunities in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Sara said the approach of the AEC prompted the company to prepare itself both proactively, partly through securing licences, and defensively, by injecting money to upgrade its core system to reinforce services besides products.
“The digital trend is drawing data from local and foreign policyholders, so we have to develop technology for the front and back offices such as automated underwriting and applications, because we want to be a digital insurer,” he said.
It will add training facilities to help improve the efficiency of agents and services from its multi-channel and hospital partners.
Muang Thai’s premium income grew by 23 per cent to Bt60.25 billion last year, exceeding the target of 20 per cent. New business rose by 27 per cent to Bt27.61 billion and renewal premiums by 20 per cent to Bt32.63 billion.
Premiums from agencies increased by 25 per cent and from bancassurance by 28 per cent.
Bancassurance contributes 60 per cent of total premiums, followed by agencies with 30 per cent and other sales channels such as brokerages with 10 per cent. The company hopes to drive the agency share to 32-33 per cent this year.
Total premium income might not grow as much as last year, but the company is targeting it at no less than 15 per cent, Sara said.