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Jul 2020

Insurance helped build Hong Kong

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Aug 2018

Swiss Re provides some thoughts on the reinsurer’s long term commitment to Hong Kong and its hopes for the future.
By Martin Fehr
Without insurance Hong Kong wouldn’t be the city we know and love today: the skyscrapers dotting Victoria Harbour wouldn’t have been built without the necessary risk protection.
But it’s just as hard to imagine insurance – and the industry’s robust growth in Asia – without Hong Kong. 
Hong Kong, since the 1980s, has grown into a leading financial and commercial hub of Asia, equipped with one of the region’s most business-friendly policies and infrastructure in place.
Swiss Re is proud to be a close partner in this tremendous journey. And we continue to be committed to the future growth of Asia’s World City and its insurance industry. 
Hong Kong benefits from a vast professional talent pool and a sound legal framework and its role as gateway to the fast-rising China makes it an attractive place to do business. 
The insurance industry’s growth in Hong Kong has been staggering. Take total gross premiums in 2017 for example, which reached HK$489.6bn. Two decades before, total gross premiums stood at a little over 1/10 of that figure. As of March 2018 there were 160 authorised insurance companies in Hong Kong.
Swiss Re has been covering Asian risks since the 19th century. We’ve been moving closer to the region’s clients ever since. After signing the first contract with a Hong Kong-based insurer in 1927, the first Asian representation was established in Hong Kong in 1956. As we expanded further, a formal Hong Kong office was opened in the 1970s and a full operating branch in 1996.
Since then Swiss Re has prospered with an increasing presence in Hong Kong, and we continue to work in close concert with the authorities. We recognise recent government efforts to activate Fintech and InsurTech, including last year’s launch of the InsurTech Sandbox – which allows a controlled environment for technology experiments – and the Fast Track licensing framework.
Hong Kong has the world’s longest life expectancy, and such demographic shifts are taking place all around the region. Sufficient medical and financial support of the elderly is a pressing concern for all of us in Asia. 
Swiss Re is proud to have many of our life and health experts working in Hong Kong to provide solutions for the future, for what we’ve dubbed the 100-Year Life. That’s not all: Since we opened a research centre in the city in 1998, we’ve been increasing our presence here, as part of our efforts to accumulate and share risk knowledge with the community.
Hong Kong is the most open, market-oriented, and cosmopolitan city in China, one we hope to see playing an indispensable role in insurance, reinsurance and the sector’s innovation. A 
Mr Martin Fehr is managing director, group strategy; principal investments and acquisitions, regional head Asia for Swiss Re.
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