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From Editor-in-Chief

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Mar 2014

It’s March -- time to get serious as spring is in the air, and time to roll up the sleeves and get up close and technical for the long haul that the year looks like being with US$3 trillion wiped off in a month in the equity-adventure ride. But resilient as ever, insurers are surging full steam ahead, and at the CEO Summit, there was clear indication that insurers are “getting ready” for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) even if the governments have yet to release a blueprint on the ASEAN financial services market. The debate on the single ASEAN market is on the backburner with the different development levels of the 10 ASEAN markets, but there is intense interest in ASEAN projects with a “2 plus X” motif within the region.
ASEAN’s insurance market is estimated at $80 billion with a great potential for the growth to continue in double digit and more in preparations for the AEC.
On the technical front, drawing from the greater experiences in the Middle East on compulsory health and healthcare insurance, our Cover Story gives the voice of the market on preparing for compulsory covers. It will make the market boom, but before that, insurers, supporting services such as third party administrators and the user community including health authorities, hospital and other health services providers need to get their act in order to collate data and more importantly curb runaway health inflation and control expenses. It’s a tall order, but worth a try as governments are increasingly looking at the private sector to bear the burden of healthcare costs with a fast ageing population, people outliving their savings, more migrant labour and the increasing cost of healthcare. There is a pot of gold in this health rainbow. Take your vitamins now.
Another big hit is our review of the Big Bang in our Country Profile on Japan -- the second largest insurance market in the world accounting for a fifth of global premiums with its life sector bouncing back with a vengeance and its general insurance sector getting a better handle on pricing and cost control. The Bitter Pill of the 1990s is yielding the sweetness of success now, 15 years on. And Japanese insurers, with greater self-confidence from having overcome challenges posed by Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and the Thai Floods, are looking again at growing and doing more M&A.
And stretching out to the west, we bring you a quick spotlight on Korea -- eighth-largest global market of the world -- seen from the perspective of the CEO of Korean Re which itself aims to be one of the top-three reinsurers of the world by 2050. The dynamism in Korea is unshakeable even as foreigners including reinsurers jostle for a slice of the action.
Then there is our spotlight on Myanmar where we stick our necks out to make a bold prediction that its insurance market can hit $2.8 billion by 2030 just by extrapolating growth trends. But looking at the zealousness of foreign insurers eyeing the market, our estimates could even prove to be conservative. 
With so much happening in March, it cannot be business as usual. In insurance one already has to work at protecting future generations and the MDRT Experience in KL last month shows that the life boys are “Super Charged” to go out and sell to the lifestyle needs of the man in the street and those he loves. Where is the MDRT-equivalent for non-life?
The April renewals are in full swing and the buzz at our 7th India Rendezvous was just amazing as Indian cedants started early and are still shopping around for the best cover with better terms and conditions. But the message at the India Rendezvous, co-organised with GIC Re, was very emphatic that at the end of the day it is the technical underwriting results that should count and in that drive, one has to go back to the basics while ensuring sustainability.
May the spring bring good tidings in a myriad of colours just for you.
Sivam Subramaniam
Asia Insurance Review


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