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Life insurance market buoyant despite crisis

Update: February, 27/2012 - 10:25


Customers visit a branch of insurance company AIA Viet Nam. Despite the struggling domestic economy, foreign life insurance companies have still managed to make a good profit. — VNS File Photo
HA NOI — In the face of economic crisis, the life insurance sector still reaped benefits from foreign insurer contributions last year and is expected to continue its development in 2012.

Lam Hai Tuan, director general of ACE Life Viet Nam, said that while the financial market would face many new impediments this year, correct exploitation and management could still see insurers grow.

The Vietnamese life insurance market looks promising due to only 5 per cent of the total population being dependent on it alongside strong economic growth and increasing demand.

According to the Association of Vietnamese Insurers, despite high inflation and interest rates, coupled with economic difficulties last year, the life insurance sector still reached a total premium value of VND16 trillion (US$762 million), a year-on-year increase of 17 per cent.

Phung Dac Loc, the association secretary general, explained the sector's solid growth rate: "When the idle money of residents were made redundant and investment channels in the securities and property markets were unattractive, saving for the future generated conditions for life insurance market development."

Spotting the potential, Italy's General Life Insurance and Vietinbank Aviva Life Insurance, a joint venture between Vietinbank and the UK's Aviva Group, tapped into the market last year.

There are currently 14 life insurance firms in Viet Nam and, except for Bao Viet Insurance, the only local company, the remainder is dominated by foreign-invested enterprises, assuring a balanced non-life insurance sector with foreign businesses accounting for about 41 per cent.

Experts said that foreign insurers had made a great contribution to the development of the general and life insurance markets.

"Looking back one decade, life insurance companies have mobilised great capital resources from residents to reinvest into the economy," said Huynh Thanh Phong, executive director of the AIA Group in the region and chairman of the management board of AIA Viet Nam.

The development of the financial market depended on three pillars: banking, insurance and securities. International insurers played a significant role in the development of the Vietnamese insurance market, he said.

International life insurance firms reaped good results last year. For instance, Prudential Viet Nam got 1.8 million new deals with a total premium of VND1.45 trillion ($69 million).

AIA Viet Nam signed 592,000 contracts with a combined premium of VND426 billion ($20.3 million).

ACE Life Viet Nam inked more than 194,600 contracts with a total premium of over VND911 billion ($44 million).

Dai-Ichi Life Viet Nam signed more than 487,000 contracts with a combined premium of VND460 billion ($21.9 million). — VNS

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