News Column

Thai Life eyeing Japanese

August 4, 2014

By Somruedi Banchongduang, Bangkok Post, Thailand

Aug. 04--Thai Life Insurance expects synergy with its new Japanese shareholder, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance, will boost its Japanese customer base and beef up regional market growth.

It will expand its base by tapping Japanese operators, investors, expatriates and Thai employees working for Japanese companies.

Senior clients will also be a key segment as Thailand turns into an ageing society. Meiji is expected to strengthen this area in the Thai market.

Meiji, Japan's No.2 life insurer, holds a 15% stake in Thai Life. It will help the Thai firm's regional expansion and create brand awareness in neighbouring countries including Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.

However, the company will initially study the feasibility of neighbouring markets. Such countries generally take some time to develop insurance services, while priorities are loans and infrastructure development.

"Initially, the company plans to build up our brand awareness among migrants and regional business operators working in Thailand and regional travellers visiting Thailand who wish to receive health-care coverage or medical services," said Thai Life president Chai Chaiyawan.

Thai Life, the country's fourth-largest insurer in terms of premiums, is paying more attention to risk management under the fragile economic rebound.

It has a strong capital adequacy ratio of 500%, far higher than the Office of the Insurance Commission's requirement of 140%.

The company recorded lower premiums in the first half of this year, citing poor economic conditions.

In addition, a delay in payments to farmers under the former government's rice-pledging scheme was another negative factor affecting the sales of the company's insurance policies, particularly upcountry.

The insurer expects to book flat growth of premiums this year.


(c)2014 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)

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Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)

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