Thu, Apr 19, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Insurer targeting modest growth in policy charges

SECOND ANNIVERSARY:BNP Paribas Assurance TCB Life Insurance is hoping to break even this year, but its chief executive says economic uncertainty may limit its plans

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

BNP Paribas Assurance TCB Life Insurance Co (合作金庫人壽), a joint venture by the French BNP banking group and the state-run Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫銀行), aims for modest growth in premiums this year after total premiums fell 16 percent last year, acting chief executive Jack Chang (張志杰) said.

The life insurer, which will celebrate its second anniversary tomorrow, reported NT$33.6 billion (US$1.14 billion) in total premiums last year, down 16 percent from NT$40 billion in 2010 on slowed sales of interest-sensitive annuity products, said Chang, who assumed his post in February.

“For this year, we expect a mild growth in overall premiums to NT$35 billion with NT$34.6 billion in first-year premiums,” he said.

The figure represents a modest 4.2 percent growth from last year, but it is stronger than the government’s forecast for the nation’s GDP growth at 3.85 percent this year.

The insurer also aims to break even by the end of this year, but acknowledged the goal grows increasingly difficult, as global economic uncertainty is bound to weaken demand for insurance policies, Chang said.

“It is safer to say we will try hard to achieve the goal” of breaking even, he said.

Despite its relatively new entry, the insurer commanded a market share of 5.9 percent at the end of last year, ranking sixth in the fragmented and crowded market, thanks to a strong sales channel.

Partnership with Taiwan Cooperative Bank, which controls a 51 percent stake, grants the joint venture exclusive access to its sales network of 300 banking branches nationwide. Bancassurance accounts for all the company’s sales.

BNP Paribas Assurance TCB Life Insurance plans to expand its sales channel this year through cooperation with banks closely tied to Taiwan Cooperative Bank, Chang said.

Starting last month, the insurer added 11 community-level partners by teaming up with Tamsui Credit Cooperative (淡水信用合作社) and is in cooperation talks with Land Bank of Taiwan (土地銀行), the nation’s largest mortgage loan operator.

It is hoped the increase in the number of partners can significantly boost the insurer’s mortgage insurance premiums, Chang said.

He declined to comment on the government’s plan to tax capital gains, which may weigh on the company’s earnings because securities make up 8 percent of its investment funds.

“It is too early to pass judgment, since the legislature may tinker with the bill’s content,” he said.

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