Rising demand for healthcare and long-term savings products is set to boost prospects for insurers in China, according to a recent survey by KPMG.
For the survey, Securing a bright future: China's insurance sector and the evolution of bancassurance, KPMG interviewed 1,220 Chinese consumers on their insurance purchasing patterns. It identified that customers are primarily purchasing insurance cover to protect themselves in the event of an accident or illness and to secure access to healthcare services.
The most popular products identified by respondents are accident insurance and critical illness coverage, with 66 and 55 percent of respondents respectively covered by these products.
Sam Evans, Insurance Partner, KPMG China, says: "Respondents identified long-term protection for themselves and their families as the most important factor when selecting a product. The Government is also keen to promote long-term products and retirement solutions. We believe legislation to develop the pension sector is an important catalyst to jump start further market reform and create significant momentum in the future."
"The insurers also want to develop long-term protection products rather than simple savings products, a critical step to move the bancassurance channel to a customer centric model."
Providing a high quality service was also identified as the key influencing factor when purchasing an insurance policy.
The survey also found that bank-owned insurers are set to play an increasingly important role in this market and there is likely to be more collaboration between banks and insurers going forwards, as banks focus on closer working relationships with a smaller group of partners.
A majority of respondents said they purchase insurance via agents, with banks a close second. However, when respondents were asked where they would like to purchase insurance in the future, banks emerged more popular than agents in certain areas, including for annuity and investment linked products.
Richard Siu, Director, Head of Insurance Consulting, KPMG China, says: "The distribution models used in China for selling life insurance products are still mainly achieved through the traditional own agency and bancassurance channels with increasing emphasis on building up other direct, digital or alternative channels."
Recent regulations which banned insurance sales people from selling insurance products in bank branches are expected to benefit the sector in the long term, as banks implement staff training and are now responsible for the sale of the insurance product.
Sam Evans concludes: "We expect future regulations to focus on consumer protection, including cleaning up sales practices, reducing mis-selling and improving training of insurance sales staff within banks. Policy holder rights, risk awareness and increasing disclosure of information to policy holders are likely to continue to be targets for new regulations."
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