“On our retail lines, especially for new business, we saw 80% growth, which is quite good compared to industry growth of about 4% to 5%,” he says. “We added quite a few new partners, and especially grew a lot in the protection business, and the unit-linked business, which we launched at the end of 2016.”
“On the general insurance side, most of the growth came from accident and health, through the launch of a few health products, as well as through adding new bank partners on the health business,” he reveals, pointing out that a partnership with TMB Bank has been a crucial driver of this growth.
Sumit explains that the Thailand life insurance industry has been recovering from 2016 when the interest rates started to go down. “There is enough room for agile companies now to grow faster than the industry because the focus is on protection,” he explains.
A few years back, most insurers would focus on savings product, which would have guaranteed interest rates, he explains, adding that companies like Generali have been quite agile into changing their business lines and focusing more on protection. “Last year, over 60% of our business came from either unit-linked or pure protection products,” he reveals.
In the unit-linked side of things, which accounts for 5% to 6% of the overall market, and where Generali has been a later entrant, Sumit says the firm has been able to garner a 20% market share. A lot of that growth came through Generali’s partnership with Kiatnakin Bank, according to him, which is a dominant player in the wealth management space in Thailand.
For 2018, a key priority is going to be to significantly strengthen the product proposition and distribution for the unit-linked business, says Sumit, where Generali sees a competitive advantage.