Bancassurance, Next Only to Agent Distribution Channel in Asian Insurance Market

While my earlier article discussed in general on how Bancassurance channel is shaping up in various regions in Asia Pacific. This write-up sheds some light in terms of market share and growth of Bancassurance in various regions in A Pac. It is evident that this channel is picking up in most of Asia Pacific region. However the channel is still next only to the dominent Agent channel. In Mainland China, Bancassurance accounted for 27 percent market share of total insurance sales, agent channel dominated the market (37 percent market share) in 2009. Insurance market in China is undergoing structural changes with in the market and this is expected to boost the premium income of insurers via banking channel. In Hong Kong, Banks have become an important distribution channel for life, health and mandatory provident funds, supplying up to 40 percent of the market’s new business. HSBC and Hang Seng Bank together held 40 percent of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) market. In Taiwan, the concept of “One Stop Shop” has become a common philosophy for banks. Premium income for individual life insurance new business from bancassurance accounted for 68 percent in 2009. Banks contributed 88 percent to new individual annuities, 66 percent to new investment-linked businesses, and 51 percent to new life insurance businesses. While P&C market is dominated by agents and brokers (67 percent of the market share). Personal accident/ health Insurance is mostly under taken by Insurance companies themselves, thus accounting for 91 percent of this line of business. In Singapore, insurance agents make up the main sales channel for life insurance. The market share however has declined from 66 percent from 2004 to 61 percent in 2009. Bancassurance accounted for 22 percent of the total weighted new business premium income Bancassurance market share in Malaysia has grown from 45 percent in 2005 to 51 percent in 2008. The agency network had traditionally been the main distribution method but has gradually lost some ground to bancassurance. Agency network accounted for 47 percent market share in 2004 which has come down to 44 percent in 2008. Domestic insurers account for over 80 percent of Bancassurance market. In South Korea, solicitors and internal employees make up the main sales channel for the life insurance industry. In 2008, the bank channel grew to 37 percent next only to solicitors and internal employees of the insurance companies with 54 percent. Indian life insurance market is dominated by tied agents, more so with the state owned Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC). Over 75 percent of new business premium is generated by individual agents. However, individual agents in private companies account for less than 50 percent of total sales, while more than 40 percent is attributed to the bank and direct selling channel. Banks and brokerage firms have 30 percent and 20 percent respectively of the P&C insurance market. Markets such as Thailand, Malaysia and China have better acceptance of bancassurance channel as opposed to India and Singapore as brokers and agents are still major insurance carriers in these region. It is also noteworthy that all developing and accelerating markets are evidencing high potential for growth in Bancassurance.

Is Bancassurance flavour of the Season?

Bancassurance is growing in many Asian markets buoyed by deregulation of banking sector on one hand and Insurance companies intending to optimize distribution via banks on the other hand. On the local level, bancassurance business in Asia-Pacific countries has evolved in different ways. While different geographies are targeting different customer base and products, for instance countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand where Muslim population is high and growing, insurance companies are joining hands with banks to provide a wide range of Islamic finance and takaful insurance products. And in some other emerging economies with predominant agricultural countries like India banks are joining hands with co-operative societies and Regional Rural Banks to reach out to vast untapped population. Asia Pacific region is “Agent” dominated distribution in terms of both life and non life, however Bancassurance is growing quickly. Penetration of Bancassurance ranges from <10 percent in countries like Japan and Thailand to as high as 40 – 50 percent of new business in countries like South Korea and Malaysia The existing bank branches and other infrastructures like ATM, online, telephone, and mobile modes have triggered the insurance companies to come up with various innovative models in collaboration with banks to effectively use the already existing channels. Bancassurance is one of the growing models that insurance companies are targeting to reach various customer segments. Since bank customer are co-related to savings and insurance customers are co-related to retirement, pension etc, routing insurance products via bank branches will not only build long lasting relation with customers, but also act as one stop shop for all financial needs of customers.