【中国日报】Chinese insurance companies diversify overseas investment
Chinese insurance companies are speeding up going global, but the level of international business is still not high, with overseas assets only accounting for about 2 percent of total assets, a report says.
However, they are diversifying the countries and regions they invest in and the products they offer overseas.
The report, released recently by the International Monetary Institute of Renmin University of China, said that before the 2012 global economic recession, Chinese insurance companies mainly invested in Asian regions, such as Singapore, but after the slump they expanded into other countries and regions, such as Europe, the United States and Japan.
Moreover, before 2012, they mainly invested in famous hotels and office buildings overseas, but afterwards, they began to acquire or buy shares in overseas insurance organizations.
Ben Shenglin, director of the Zhejiang University Academy of Internet Finance and executive director of the International Monetary Institute of Renmin University of China said that China’s Belt and Road Initiative could offer great opportunities for the country’s insurance companies to increase their international presence and expand overseas.
“They could consider opening subsidiaries in countries and regions along the Belt and Road, as more Chinese companies will be going to these areas,” he said. “They could also directly invest in big infrastructure projects that need financing in these countries and regions.”
Ben said it was also important for Chinese insurance companies to learn about the advanced operational experiences of overseas insurance companies. When going global, they needed to understand thoroughly the legal systems, economic environment, markets and culture of destination countries.
He said that the Chinese insurance industry has developed quickly over the past few years, but the penetration rate of insurance products – and the average amount spent on them – still lags behind global standards.
The annual consumption per person of insurance products globally was about $662 in 2015, but in China it was only $271.
“Moreover, the percentage of people buying insurance products in China was only 3.59 percent, while the global average is 6.2 percent, and in the US about 7.3 percent,” said he said.
China’s insurance market was also dominated by several big companies. For example, in 2015, about 70 percent of the property insurance market was held by the biggest four insurance companies, he added.