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Mainland insurers win consumer trust
Last Updated: 2017-03-06 07:53 | China Daily
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Zhou Lijuan, 33, owner of a flower shop in Shanghai, is expecting her first baby any time this week. Over the last few months, she spent a lot of time talking to dozens of insurance agents, as part of her attempts to understand how policies work.

"My child will be born soon, and I'm in dire need of protection for myself and my baby," she said.

Zhou exemplifies Chinese families who are more aware about insurance and current innovations therein now than in the past. That's because insurers have been responding to mainland consumers' tendency to buy policies from Hong Kong.

Insurers' marketing campaigns are resulting in consumers buying insurance from the mainland market, said analysts.

Latest data from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission showed that insurers' combined life insurance premium income in January grew 39 percent year-on-year to 758 billion yuan, with regular payment rising 49 percent year-on-year.

"I'm not inclined to face policy uncertainty in markets outside the mainland, so I'd like to invest in protection in home market, which is more stable and easily accessible," said Zhou.

Wu Kaihao, wealth management consultant with Shanghai Blue Point Investment Advising Ltd, said many families in China are now approaching wealth management products for protection rather than high returns. This is particularly true for families whose housing need has been met, and money in bank accounts is enough to take care of day-to-day expenses.

"Retirement plan and education for children are the major things we think about. Five years ago, I'd have bought financial products with yields of some 7 or 8 percent. Now 4 percent is good enough, and for insurance, 2.5 percent is good enough," said Wu.

Pu Dongjun, analyst with Changjiang Securities, said in a research note that both insurers and consumers are attaching more importance to protection than high returns.

"Since the beginning of 2017, insurance-related dividends are somewhere between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent, while last year they were between 3 percent and 5 percent. Policies are formulated with more focus on protection, not returns," said Pu.

Innovative products, like online tools for Chinese families have been driving market growth in recent months, said Chen Jiaoyi, an analyst with Zhongtai Securities.

A heath insurance product by ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co, China's first online insurance company, sold out 57,000 policies during the first week after its launch, domonstrating customers' strong demand.

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