Partnerships build institutions. As part of the MS&AD Insurance Group, MSIG Insurance (Malaysia) is widely acclaimed for its strategic partnership with Hong Leong Assurance in 2010 to create the second-largest general insurer in Malaysia. This move was key in MS&AD's recognition as Asia's 2011 General Insurance Company of the Year, among the highly coveted industry awards in the region.
With a legacy spanning more than 100 years, MSIG Malaysia itself emerged from successful partnerships over the past three decades. MSIG is the product of the 2006 merger between Malaysia's long-established industry players Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance (Malaysia) and British-owned Aviva Insurance.
"MSIG Malaysia is unique in the sense that it started from a very small company, then through a series of mergers and acquisitions has grown to its current size," says Chua Seck Guan, CEO of MSIG Malaysia. "Our local management and staff have accumulated the best practices of New Zealand, Britain and Japan. We have imbibed the vision of Mitsui Sumitomo to become one of the most profitable general insurance companies in Malaysia."
With more than 170 survey and settling agents worldwide for marine cargo insurance, the company is the undisputed leader in Malaysia in this segment. Also the country's No 1 fire insurance provider, MSIG Malaysia underwrote 1.2 billion ringgit (HK$3.05 billion) worth of premiums last year. This represents a 29 per cent increase from its gross written premium in 2010, when MSIG Malaysia took over 100 per cent of Hong Leong Assurance's general insurance business as a result of the strategic alliance. MSIG Malaysia holds 23 per cent of Malaysia's marine insurance market and 14 per cent of the country's fire insurance business.
MSIG Malaysia is also a major underwriter for the construction industry, where it is among the top three and distinguished for its risk retention capacity.
Reflecting Malaysia's robust domestic market, MSIG Malaysia derives more than 40 per cent of its overall business from motor vehicle insurance. Car ownership in the country is typically two to three per household. The company also benefits from its Japanese roots due to the popularity of vehicle brands such as Honda and Toyota.
"We have the size, and this is largely due to our senior leaders' strong international exposure and skill in executing physical mergers. With these qualities, financial results are less volatile and become more predictable. We have that reputation of financial stability," Chua says.
MSIG Malaysia has strong links with such groups as Germany's HDI-Gerling, Spain's MAPFRE and Scandinavia's IF Insurance. It is the trusted partner of Malaysian businessmen for property insurance needs on the mainland and in Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. As a strategic partner of Taiwan's Mingtai and Fubon Financial, MSIG Malaysia is also the primary insurer for most of Malaysia's Taiwanese investors. It is also known to be a pioneer in bancassurance and works closely with Hong Leong Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Alliance Bank in Malaysia.
Heavily investing in technological channels, MSIG Malaysia is available 24/7 via GenLink, a web-based portal for business partners. The facility allows the company's distributors to process insurance policies in less than two minutes, a transaction that usually takes five days. The company also has a consumer-facing portal called GenPage that allows business partners to set up personal insurance advisory websites.
This level of customer engagement is matched by a guarantee that the company will act on insurance claims within 24 hours. "MSIG is a strong brand that is associated with superior customer service. We are known for settling claims promptly and fairly. That's our core competence," Chua says.
To help individual clients, the company has dedicated hotlines for motoring, travel and property-related concerns. It is also veering towards more unconventional distribution modes such as affinity schemes, telemarketing, direct marketing and more web-based applications.
With Malaysia evolving into a high-income society, demand for medical insurance is rising fast. MSIG Malaysia is looking to expand its medical insurance business with individual packages to satisfy the health care needs of Malaysia's increasingly affluent population.
"We aspire to be the leader in the general insurance business and in overall service excellence. Our goal is to attain at least 15 per cent return on equity every year. We also want to be the employer of choice in Malaysia. These are our medium-term priorities," Chua says.