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  • Writer's pictureWarren H. Lau

Post Pandemic Chinese Insurance Market - A Complete Guide for Investors


Post Pandemic Chinese Insurance Market | Warren H. Lau's Column | INPress International
Post Pandemic Chinese Insurance Market | Warren H. Lau's Column | INPress International

China’s insurance industry experienced turbulent times during the COVID-19 pandemic but signs indicate a rebound is underway, bringing sizable potential for forward-thinking investors. Let’s analyze the landscape changes and opportunities on the road to recovery.


During 2020 lockdowns, insurance premium growth understandably slowed as consumers focused on essentials. Life and health insurance weakened, down -2.2% and -3.8% year-on-year respectively according to government data. Motor and property/casualty classes like liability also saw decline.


However, signs of a rebound emerged in 2021. Overall gross written insurance premium volume grew 3.5%, led by annuity policies rising 8.3% as household savings increased. Life insurance revived, up 2.8% for the year. Policy sales also enjoyed low double-digit growth over the period, reflecting recovering confidence.


Looking ahead, industry participants project renewed momentum building post-pandemic. Resurgent domestic travel and consumption bode well for insurance providers. McKinsey estimates China’s overall insurance density - premiums as a percentage of GDP - could double by 2030 from just 3% currently to over 6%. Vast untapped potential remains.


Several trends emerge as opportunities for investors in this evolving landscape. Firstly, insurance technology presents avenues for productivity gains. Insurtech platforms facilitate digital underwriting, claims processing and agent networks in China’s vast, lower-tier cities under-penetrated by traditional insurers. Companies like Waterdrop, Anthropic and Zhongan are leaders here.


Secondly, rising health insurance demand dovetails with China’s goal to establish a basic medical system for all citizens by 2030. This presents sectors engaging preventative, chronic illness and senior care with prospects for sustained growth. Life and health insurers are reinforcing these offerings.


Thirdly, financial planning insurance may experience increased uptake as Chinese household wealth multiplies. Annuity and investment-linked products address needs for retirement, education and bequests. Incumbent insurers upgrading advisor networks and online functions stand to benefit.


Lastly, the ongoing professionalization of China’s insurance intermediary channel creates grounds for specialized distributors. Large independent agencies and brokers assume greater strategic importance as insurance literacy grows. This presents opportunities for global expertise in tailored solutions and commercial lines.


Overall, smart money views China’s post-pandemic insurance recovery as still in initial stages. Fundamentals support ongoing structural increases in spending on risk protection. By understanding demographic and regulatory shifts creating unique consumer profiles, nimble investors can identify promising niches within this vibrant, evolving sector.

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