Myanmar seen as promising market for insurance

THE Financial Services Agency and Japanese insurers have been extending support to Myanmar in developing its insurance market, with an eye on the Southeast Asian nation’s possible opening of the market to foreign companies in the future.

The FSA has been working with both life insurers and general insurers in supporting Myanmar, which is likely to achieve high economic growth. The agency believes that Myanmar will keep its open stance toward foreign investment even after next year’s planned handover of power to the Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy.

In Myanmar, the newly launched Financial Regulatory Department will likely oversee the country’s insurance sector. With help from Japanese insurers, the FSA will provide officials at the department and other concerned agencies with training programs to share expertise on supervising the insurance sector.

Some Japanese companies have already offered support to their Myanmar counterparts on developing products, with the country’s first health with death benefit being released in July by a local insurance company. The product had attracted 1,055 contracts over four months by the end of October.

The local insurer has been supported in developing the product by Taiyo Life Insurance Co, which in April 2012 became the first foreign company in the field to open a representative office in Myanmar.

While providing training to government officials, Taiyo was accredited in July as a “leading consultant” in its capacity as the first foreign insurer. The company gathers and analyses data, while also providing local firms with advice on assessing documents when contracts are agreed upon.

Meanwhile, Japan’s three major non-life insurance companies – Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co – became in May the first foreign companies to be authorised for business operations in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone.

They now offer fire and marine insurance products to manufacturers operating in the zone, located on the outskirts of Yangon.

With a population of 52 million, Myanmar is estimated to have an insurance market worth US$40 million (Bt1.4 billion), and European and US major insurers are also interested in the country.


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