Blast sparks renewed interest in political violence insurance

Blast sparks renewed interest in political violence insurance
PHOTO: Reuters

Since the bomb-blast incident on Monday, many customers who used to wait and see [before buying insurance] have contacted us to ask for details about purchasing this kind of insurance," Nualphan Lamsam, president and chief executive officer, said yesterday.

PV is an insurance policy in the special-insurance-product category, covering both terrorism and business disruption.

The Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel - in front of whose property the Erawan Shrine bomb exploded - is an MTI customer for this type of coverage. She said the premiums for PV insurance remained unchanged, based on a sum insured of up to Bt2.5 billion (S$98.5 million), as indicated by the major global reinsurance market, Lloyd's of London.

At present, while premiums from PV insurance contribute millions of baht to MTI, the premium for this category is small when compared with the sum insured because the chances of an incident occurring are low, she explained.

Nualphan said premium income for overall special insurance products this year could reach Bt700 million, driven by trade-credit policies.

Trade-credit insurance has showed significant growth from last year, and MTI's premium income from this product this year is expected to expand by more than 10 per cent to exceed Bt300 million.

The uncertain economic climate has persuaded many trading businesses to require additional coverage for their trades, while the insurer's bancassurance and agent distribution channels have been active in selling trade-credit insurance to targeted customers, said the CEO.

Although trade-credit insurance is the fastest-growing segment in terms of premium income because trading businesses are more aware of market volatility, the company is unable to predict whether income growth for the product will be in double digits next year.

This is because it has to undertake a risk assessment and get a response from the reinsurers that will indicate the market trend, she added.

MTI yesterday reported its first-half performance, in which total premium income rose by 10.7 per cent year on year to Bt5.27 billion, and net profit increased 8.1 per cent to Bt512 million.

Even though the non-life insurance industry is expected to experience flat growth, or even a drop in business, MTI believes its total premium income for the whole year will achieve the target of Bt11.4 billion, representing growth of 14 per cent from the Bt10.23 billion achieved in 2014. Motor insurance accounts for 52 per cent of total premium income, with personal accident/health insurance contributing 17 per cent and fire insurance another 12 per cent.

Last year, motor insurance accounted for 50 per cent, and the company is attempting to limit the premium contribution of this segment to 55 per cent.

Wasit Lamsam, executive vice president, said total premium income of Bt11.4 billion was a challenging figure for the company, but based on the first-half performance and MTI's strategy to keep its customer base, it was optimistic about achieving the full-year target.

The high level of household debt and weak purchasing power might not encourage the company to offer new products to consumers in the second half of the year, therefore it will focus on existing customers to sustain renewal premiums, he said.

MTI is introducing a one-price premium based on the sum insured for first-class motor insurance in order to cope with the ever-increasing variety of vehicles on the roads, he said, adding that coverage will start from Bt14,500 a year.

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