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Announcement:

Moody's: Outlook for APAC insurance sector is stable on steady economic momentum

 The document has been translated in other languages

12 Dec 2017

Hong Kong, December 12, 2017 -- Moody's Investors Service says that steady economic momentum across the economies of Asia Pacific (APAC), led by China (A1 stable), is driving demand for insurance, resulting in a stable outlook for the region's insurance sector for 2018.

"The solvency positions of insurers across Asia Pacific remain solid despite increasing capital requirements, while product margins and asset liability management have improved," says Qian Zhu, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer.

"The insurers have also adapted to low interest rates by shifting to less interest-sensitive products and increasing their allocation to higher-yielding non-traditional assets, although for some -- such as Chinese life and property & casualty (P&C) insurers -- the latter has resulted in rising asset risk," adds Zhu.

Moody's conclusions are contained in its just-released presentation "Insurance -- Asia Pacific: 2018 Outlook".

Moody's report highlights that along with good growth momentum, aging demographics are also spurring demand for insurance in the region, in particular, in view of still low insurance density and penetration rates in most Asian economies.

Long-term demand for life insurance will also be driven by the region's sheer population size, rising income and wealth, and the existing significant protection gap.

Interest rates have bottomed out across the region, but will remain low by historical standards. To cope with these low rates, life insurers have taken a more conservative pricing approach by offering lower crediting rates and guarantee rates, while also seeking higher yields through non-traditional or foreign assets -- thereby raising investment risk.

And in the case of Chinese life and P&C insurers, the increased asset risk is also reflected in their rising allocation to alternative investments, with often complex transaction structures and a lack of transparent disclosure standards.

These alternative investments also introduce additional layer of credit risks, thereby weakening asset transparency, return stability and liquidity profiles.

Underwriting performance remains stable across the region. Specifically, for Chinese P&C insurers, loss ratios have increased generally for small to mid-sized players as a result of lower premium rates following the liberalization in motor pricing, but expense ratios have improved, reflecting the regulator's efforts to reign in excessive acquisition costs.

Meanwhile, Japanese P&C insurers should see their underwriting profitability peak as motor rates retreat after a multiyear uptrend, but this coming adjustment will not reverse the significant improvement in their combined ratio in recent years.

Finally, deeper adoption of technology is changing the industry's business model and operations, as well as the delivery of insurance products.

In particular, new technology should ease claims processes and broaden insurers' customer bases and sales channels.

Subscribers can read the full report at:

http://www.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PBC_1103712

This report is part of Moody's 2018 outlooks, which can be access through this dedicated website:

https://outlooks.moodys.io/

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information, please call one of our global press information hotlines: New York +1-212-553-0376, London +44-20-7772-5456, Tokyo +813-5408-4110, Hong Kong +852-3758-1350, Sydney +61-2-9270-8141, Mexico City 001-888-779-5833, São Paulo 0800-891-2518, or Buenos Aires 0800-666-3506. You can also email us at mediarelations@moodys.com or visit our web site at www.moodys.com.

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

Wing Kei Frank Yuen
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Hong Kong Ltd.
24/F One Pacific Place
88 Queensway
Hong Kong
China (Hong Kong S.A.R.)
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

Yat Man Sally Yim
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Hong Kong Ltd.
24/F One Pacific Place
88 Queensway
Hong Kong
China (Hong Kong S.A.R.)
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

No Related Data.
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