First-half premium data shows several segments, including property, are in fine fettle
China's online insurers made steady progress across segments in the first half of this year, industry insiders said.
Online insurance sellers specializing in property-related products ended a two-year run of losses and earned premium income of 32.64 billion yuan ($4.77 billion) in the first half of this year, up 37 percent year-on-year.
According to data released by the Insurance Association of China, online insurers' premium income from property products accounted for 5.42 percent of the total property insurance industry-wide. The first-half online component rose 91 basis points year-on-year.
Across all categories of insurance products sold online, accident and health insurance grew most rapidly, with premium income reaching 7.29 billion yuan, or 22 percent of the total.
Ever since the Shanghai-based ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co Ltd launched high-end health insurance plans in 2016, various insurance companies have launched similar mid-to high-end products that meet the demand for health insurance from a large number of clients.
This has led to rapid growth of sales of accident and health insurance policies online, the IAC said.
A survey of the customers of online insurance products conducted by the association and iResearch Consulting Group earlier this year found that mid-to high-end health insurance penetration was 49.4 percent in China.
Meanwhile, insurance companies kept innovating different aspects of business, including insurance coverage and responsibilities, to improve customer experience, thus promoting the expansion of accident and health insurance products to a certain extent.
The strengths of insurance technology companies became more prominent in the areas of business other than auto insurance, whereas traditional insurance companies still held a dominant position in auto insurance.
Four online-only property insurance companies, namely ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance, Tk.cn, Anxin Property & Casualty Insurance Co Ltd, and 1an.com, grew rapidly in the first half. Their total premium income rose almost 95 percent year-on-year to 7.81 billion yuan.
Sixteen foreign insurers, including Cathay Insurance Co Ltd, AXA Tianping P&C Insurance Co Ltd, and American International Group Inc, also recorded rapid growth of premium income from online property insurance. Their premiums grew 125 percent year-on-year to 1.72 billion yuan, accounting for 5.26 percent of the overall online property insurance business.
Their contribution rose by 2.04 percentage points year-on-year, according to the IAC.
People familiar with China's insurance sector said the online property insurance market has various types of participants and the market has shown obvious advantages for growth in developed areas.
Hangzhou, Suzhou and Jinhua topped the list of 36 major cities in terms of the amount of premium income from online property insurance in the first half.
IAC data showed sales channels of insurance agencies and third-party online platforms notched up accumulated premium income of 17.81 billion yuan, contributing 54.58 percent of the total. Accumulated premium income via insurers' own websites and apps was 1.42 billion yuan and 11.8 billion yuan respectively.