Insurance markets in Asia - quality before growth

Despite slowing economic momentum, the insurance market in Asia in the years ahead is likely to grow more strongly than in the past. However, this development is due mainly to the shift in country weightings in the region, with increasing regulation and more intense competition likely to curb the pace of growth in the individual countries.

For many years, Asia's emerging markets – led by China – were able to sustain exceptionally strong growth momentum. In the period from 2002 to 2011, regional gross domestic product grew at an average rate of 8.2% a year, with China even achieving double-digit growth of +10.6%. The region is now fairly far removed from growth rates like these, reporting pretty constant growth in economic output of between 6% and 6½% a year over the last three years. In the long term, we can expect to see a further moderate decline in the pace of growth, with the growth rate in five to ten years' time likely to come in at "only" 5¼% at the most based on our estimates.

Nonetheless, the Asian market is still one of the fastest growing insurance markets in the world.In the period between 2002 and 2014, total gross written premiums in the fourteen countries included in our analysis grew at an average rate of 6.6% a year. In 2014 alone, gross written premiums climbed by 8.1% to reach a new record high of around EUR 865bn. Over the next ten yearswe expect to see average annual growth to the tune of around 8%.The fact that the Asian insurance market looks set to outstrip the rate of growth seen over the past twelve years despite the slowdown in economic growth is, however, due to the prospect that Japan's market share will decline further: excluding Japan, to date the largest insurance market in the region, average growth in Asia stood at 12.4% between 2002 and 2014 and is likely to ease to 10.6% a year between 2015 and 2025. Apart from weaker economic momentum, further professionalization of the markets and ongoing demographic change will play a key role in future developments.

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