AIA ‘goes small’ in mainland China push

Smaller cities are the next step in expanding into a critical emerging market, says CEO

AIA ‘goes small’ in mainland China push

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

AIA Group seeks to reach more of China’s second- and third-tier cities as part of its expansion plans, according CEO Ng Keng Hooi.

According to Ng, AIA has been successful in China’s major cities, and the next phase of its plan is to invest in smaller cities and reach more people.

“There are a lot of second and third tier cities in China which have a population between five million to 10 million,” Ng told South China Morning Post. “They have a need for a wide range of insurance products to protect their families.”

AIA, which is one of the largest insurers in Asia, originated in Shanghai in 1919. It exited the market during the Second World War, but returned in the early 90s. It also became the first foreign insurer to have full ownership of its mainland China operations.

Currently, AIA has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and 14 cities in Guangdong province and nine cities in Jiangsu province.

AIA’s expansion plans include the promotion of protection products such as life and medical insurance. According to Ng, it is important for people to ensure protection for themselves and their family first, before moving on to short-term savings or investment-linked insurance policies.

Ng also praised Beijing’s move to remove the 50% foreign ownership cap for insurance companies gradually over the next five years.

“The relaxation shows China is committed to open up its insurance market to foreign companies,” said Ng. “This is a good move.”

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