Generali Malaysia Aims To Narrow Protection Gap In Malaysia, Focusing On Underserved Segments
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New insurer Generali Malaysia has emphasised that it will focus on catering to the insurance needs of the underserved segments in the country by offering inclusive products and innovative distribution methods. This is with the main goal of narrowing and bridging the protection gap for the Malaysian public, ensuring that no one is left behind.

For context, Generali Malaysia was only recently established – on 1 April 2023 – after Generali Group, one of the largest global insurance providers based in Italy, acquired a 70% stake in AXA Affin General Insurance Bhd, as well as purchased 100% of MPI Generali Insurans Bhd from its joint-venture partner Multi-Purpose Capital Holdings Bhd (MPCHB). These businesses were then integrated under the unified brand of Generali Malaysia, positioning it as one of the largest general and emerging life insurers within the country.

Chief executive officer and country head of Generali Insurance Malaysia, Fabrice Benard stated that the insurer – which is set to complete its integration by 2024 – is committed to providing affordable insurance for the underserved market in the long term.

“If we look at the Malaysian market today, no one (insurance provider) has already been successful in doing that (insurance for underserved groups). This is the reason why there is low penetration in the market. When we did the acquisition in Malaysia, it was a commitment that we made to the Ministry of Finance that we will spend our time and energy for our long-term agenda,” said Benard.

(Image: The Star/Ong Soon Hin)

That said, Benard acknowledged that Generali Malaysia has yet to finalise its strategy for this ambition, but stressed that it will rely heavily on several advantages that it currently has. These included its large existing market share, with a vast distribution network of more than 9,000 agents, partners, and distributors, as well as 49 branches nationwide. It also offers a broader range of products and services, focusing on protection, medical coverage, savings, and legacy planning.

“As an insurer with over 190 years of insurance heritage and experience (from Generali Group), we strive to provide better experiences as a whole by transforming our role to go beyond selling products and to provide more value-added, personalised service in line with our Lifetime Partner 24: Driving Growth commitment,” Benard further said.

In addition to that, Generali Malaysia also hopes to venture further into the retail and small and medium enterprises (SME) segments, specifically by tapping into its partnership with Affin Bank after acquiring a controlling majority of the bank’s insurance arm (AXA Affin).

“We really see a huge opportunity to work with Affin Bank. Of course, Affin is focusing on retail and SME, and these are the areas where we see ourselves collaborating together. So it’s either by way of branch network, or by way of digital footprint, where we can reach out to wider audiences, and this is how we will approach (it) with Affin,” said the chief executive officer of Generali Life Insurance, Rebecca Tan.

Meanwhile, Generali International’s regional officer for Asia, Roberto Leonard said that Generali Group recognises Malaysia’s potential as a high-growth market. This is evidenced by the 10.3% increase seen in gross direct premiums for the local general insurance industry in the first half of 2022 (1H22). Similarly, the life insurance industry recorded a 5.3% increase in sum assured in force, amounting to RM1.9 trillion.

“This showcases the strong growth potential of the insurance industry in Malaysia, with its economy being one of the most open and diverse, and now one of the fastest growing in Southeast Asia,” said Leonard, adding that the government’s initiative to build a robust financial ecosystem will also contribute to the country’s prospects.

(Sources: The Edge Markets, The Star)

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