American life insurer MetLife Inc has launched a representative office in Myanmar in a bid to tap the country’s nascent life insurance industry.
MetLife received a licence for its representative office in Myanmar in 2013, along with 17 other foreign insurers.
The company said it is now working with government regulators as well as industry players to study and develop the life insurance industry in Myanmar.
Moe Thauk, MetLife’s Chief Representative in Myanmar, said a vibrant insurance sector can help mobilise savings and create liquidity in the economy thereby improving overall financial efficiency for the country.
“Life insurance has a positive role to play in Myanmar’s economy. It not only provides individuals with protection for their families, but the opportunity to grow their prosperity through long-term structured savings, further fuelling economic prosperity,” he said.
Dr Nirmala Menon, executive vice president of Designated Markets & Health for MetLife in Asia, said, “A key component of MetLife’s strategy in Asia is to expand its footprint in the high growth, emerging markets of Southeast Asia.”
“Having operations in 10 markets in Asia, we are confident that we can bring relevant expertise to Myanmar as the country looks to open its market,” she added.
Myanmar’s underdeveloped insurance market was opened up to domestic private players in 2013 after five decades of monopoly by the state-owned Myanma Insurance Enterprise (MIE), with the establishment of twelve domestic private insurance companies, three life insurers and nine composite insurers. The current government tentatively signalled that it will open the industry to foreign insurers as early as this year.
The Myanmar insurance industry is highly underpenetrated, with only one out of 86 individuals holding an insurance policy. Insurance penetration as a share of GDP is currently only 0.05 percent. According to estimates, Myanmar will eventually generate between $1.6 billion and $2.8 billion of insurance premium revenue every year.
Japan’s Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co and Taiyo-Life Insurance Co, America’s AIA, Singapore’s Great Eastern Life Assurance Co, UK-based Prudential Holdings and Canada’s Manulife have opened representative offices in Myanmar recently.