Growth in Chinese clients buying insurance in Hong Kong boosts FTLife’s business

The increase in mainland Chinese buying insurance policies in the city has contributed to the insurance industry’s 14pc rise in total gross premiums in the first half of 2017, according to government data

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 7:18am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 7:18am

The steady growth of mainland Chinese clients who come to Hong Kong to buy insurance products has boosted the business of FTLife Insurance, according to the company’s Asia CEO, Lennard Yong.

The company, one of Hong Kong’s largest life insurers, reported a 14 per cent rise in gross written premium, or income from business that is written before reinsurance, for the first half of 2017, compared with the same period last year.

Its annual premium equivalent (APE) – a measure that allows comparisons of the amounts of new business gained with different proportions of single and regular premium business – grew 26 per cent during the six-month period, overtaking the Hong Kong market’s 0.3 per cent increase.

It did not provide detailed figures.

The city’s insurance industry recorded total gross premiums of HK$236.7 billion (US$30.3 billion) in the first half of 2017, according to government statistics. The amount represented an increase of 14.1 per cent from the year-earlier period, which was driven by the growth in mainlanders buying policies and products in Hong Kong.

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“We are serious about building the life insurance business, with our strong roots in China and gradually building out in Hong Kong and beyond,” Yong said, adding that growth in their Chinese clientele was in the “double digits”, in terms of the breakdown between mainland Chinese and non-mainland customers.

Since it was acquired from Ageas Asia by Beijing-based JD Group in May 2016, FTLife has been formulating its strategy to provide premium services to mainland Chinese and Hong Kong customers at its service centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, which opened last year.

FTLife’s flagship protection scheme, Healthcare 168 provides a comprehensive coverage against 168 illnesses, which caters to the needs of mainland Chinese clients.

While both Hong Kong and Chinese clients face risks of illnesses and death, such as from lung or colon cancer, mainland customers were inclined to maximise their insurance plans for economic purposes and preferred to have a wider coverage of the types of diseases, Yong said.

In contrast, Hong Kong clients worry about the cost of the insurance and may prefer plans with a bigger payout for a specific disease.

Yong said that was because they were likely to have a higher level of health awareness, and knowledge of the high costs and management needed for treating illnesses.

Another product, Regent Insurance Series, also aimed to provide long term savings protection for mainland Chinese customers who come to Hong Kong to buy insurance, Yong said.

Riding on Chinese traditions, the scheme allows clients to pass on the insurance policy – insured up to the age of 128 – to the next generation, serving as a form of succession planning and wealth management.

Meanwhile, the company is joining the bandwagon to invest in the development of insurtech, or insurance related technology.

Yong said he hoped that a service that allows agents and customers to use hand-held devices for speedier applications and claims will be launched as early as next year.