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S. Korean Insurance Market Suffers Negative Growth in 2018
Sales of Savings Insurance Products Plunge
S. Korean Insurance Market Suffers Negative Growth in 2018
  • By Yoon Young-sil
  • September 17, 2019, 10:41
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South Korea was the only country among the world’s 10 biggest insurance markets that suffered negative growth last year.

South Korea was the only country among the world’s 10 biggest insurance markets that suffered negative growth last year.

The combined amount of income premiums of domestic insurance firms came to US$179.02 billion (211.96 trillion won) last year, according to data released by global reinsurer Swiss Re on Sept. 16. The figure represented a drop of US$2.19 billion (2.60 trillion won) from a year earlier.

South Korea ranked seventh in terms of income premiums in the global insurance market for two years in a row. The United States took first place with US$1.47 trillion (1,739.65 trillion won), followed by China with US$574.80 billion (680.56 trillion won), Japan with US$440.60 billion (521.67 trillion won), England with US$336.50 billion (398.42 trillion won), France with US$257.90 billion (305.35 trillion won) and Germany with US$241.40 billion (285.82 trillion won).

The catch here is that only South Korea posted negative growth among the top 10 countries in terms of income premiums in the world. The South Korean insurance market recorded a growth rate of -1.214 percent last year. The other nine countries all posted growth, including not only large premium markets, such as the United States (5.01 percent), China (6.169 percent), Japan (3.817 percent), England (5.189 percent), France (5.566 percent) and Germany (6.296 percent), but also relatively smaller markets -- Italy (6.9 percent), Canada (5.615 percent) and Taiwan (3.83 percent).

Swiss Re attributed the negative growth of the South Korean insurance market to a drop in sales of saving insurance products, which is related to the scheduled introduction of a new financial reporting standard (IFRS17) in 2022. As interest rates have been kept low, insurance companies focused on selling coverage insurance products rather than saving insurance products.

On the other hand, the combined premiums of the global insurance market increased 4.8 percent on year to US$5.19 trillion won (6,148.51 trillion won) last year. Most of emerging countries saw a significant growth. In particular, the Vietnamese life insurance market recorded a growth rate of 27.5 percent last year through vitalization of insurance agencies and bancassurance channels.