FSC concerned by chain’s foray into insurance sales

By Amy Su and Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporters

Sat, Jan 05, 2013 - Page 13

President Chain Store Corp (統一超商), which operates the nation’s largest convenience store chain, has raised concerns in the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) over its new investment in the insurance business.

Local media reported yesterday that President Chain began selling Fubon Insurance Co’s (富邦產險) car and motorcycle insurance products through its ibon electronic kiosks at 4,850 7-Eleven stores nationwide earlier this week.

The reports said that President Chain planned to cooperate with other insurance companies and introduce more products such as residential fire insurance and travel accident insurance.

However, the commission raised doubts over whether convenience store workers or the ibon platform are qualified to sell insurance policies.

Insurance brokers need to meet certain qualifications in order to explain insurance policies to prospective clients, FSC Insurance Bureau Deputy Director-General Chen Kai-yuan (陳開元) said by telephone, adding that the commission will have to look into the legal implications of the matter.

In response, President Chain said that the commission had misunderstood the company’s operations, noting that it had launched an insurance reinvestment unit named President Insurance Brokers Corp (統超保險經紀人) in November last year.

“The company’s insurance subsidiary has received a brokerage license for both life and non-life insurance products,” President Chain public relations official Irene Chuang (莊靜如) said by telephone yesterday.

Chuang confirmed that the insurance subsidiary officially commenced operations on Tuesday by selling car and motorcycle insurance products in collaboration with Fubon Insurance.

However, the company did not sell insurance products through ibon kiosks at 7-Eleven stores, Chuang said, adding that ibon machines only offer limited services to customers such as printing payment slips or returning electronic warranties.

President Insurance plans to expand its product range in the near future, with travel insurance expected to be its next focus, Chuang said.

However, the company will wait for permission from the commission when planning to launch a new insurance product, she added.

Fubon Insurance, the non-life insurance subsidiary of Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控), said the company cannot provide additional discounts for standard car and passenger insurance policies via the 7-Eleven ibon kiosks.

However, the strengthened partnership may allow clients to buy insurance policies in more convenient locations, Fubon Insurance said.

The insurer has teamed up with the store chain for several years, allowing the chain’s 4,850 outlets nationwide to help collect insurance premiums, the company said, adding that Taiwan FamilyMart Co (全家便利商店) and Hi-Life convenience stores (萊爾富超商) provide the same service.

It is too early to speculate on potential sales figures at this stage, Fubon Insurance said.