Hong Kong insurance industry posts significant growth in premiums

Effect of social unrest is still being felt

Hong Kong insurance industry posts significant growth in premiums

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority (IA) has released provisional statistics on the industry for 2019, indicating 9.1% growth of total gross premiums to HK$580.2 billion.

In a release, the regulator said that total revenue premiums of long term in-force business were HK$524.6 billion in 2019, up by 9.7% year-on-year. This was made up of HK$457.1 billion of individual life and annuity (non-linked) business (up by 15.3%), HK$27.7 billion of individual life and annuity (linked) business (down by 20.5%), and HK$33.8 billion of retirement scheme business (down by 19%).

Meanwhile, new office premiums for policies issued to mainland visitors were HK$43.4 billion (down by 8.8%), representing 25.2% of the total for individual businesses, the IA said. This was due to the protests taking a heavy toll in the fourth quarter, which saw premiums contract further by 23.4% to HK$7.4 billion, on top of 28.8% in the third quarter.

For Hong Kong’s general insurance market, gross and net premiums were at HK$55.7 billion (up by 3.9%) and HK$37.7 billion (up by 6.8%), respectively. Overall underwriting profit rose 93.3% to reach HK$1.1 billion, propelled by property damage business resulting from the absence of any major typhoons, the regulator said.

As of December 31, 2019, the gross and net claims incurred by Hong Kong’s authorised insurers due to the recent social unrest was at HK$1.3 billion and HK$411 million respectively, but upward adjustment of reserves is likely to impair underwriting performance going forward.

For reinsurance inward business, gross and net premiums were HK$13.3 billion (down 12.5%) and HK$8.2 billion (down 18.4%) respectively. The IA attributed it to the general liability business, where gross premiums dropped by 48% to HK$1.9 billion, partly offset by property damage business, where gross premiums increased by 8.5% to HK$5.3 billion.

Underwriting profit decreased by 10.5% to HK$283 million as general liability business deteriorated from a profit of HK$177 million in 2018 to a loss of HK$255 million in 2019. This was in contrast to the property damage business, which reaped a profit of HK$725 million (up by 217.2%) due to better claims experience.

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