Malaysian insurer sees big market in PH amid large population, economic growth

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2019 05:00 PM | Updated as of Jul 02 2019 08:34 PM

Etiqa International chairman Kamaludin bin Ahmad

MANILA - Malaysia's biggest insurer Etiqa, a unit of Maybank, sees a huge opportunity for insurers in the Philippines because of the country's large population and fast economic growth. 

Etiqa Philippines chairman Kamaludin bin Ahmad said the country, with a population of over 100 million and an average economic growth rate of over 6 percent over several years, is already one of Etiqa's fastest growing ASEAN markets next to Malaysia.

"If the growth rate of a country is 6 percent or so, we typically see insurance growing double or 2.5 times that rate," Ahmad said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss. 

Ahmad added that Etiqa is doing good business in the Philippines selling travel insurance, thanks to millennials who love to travel. 

Etiqa hopes to use the popularity of its travel insurance to entice more Filipinos to buy its other products, he said. 

But he admitted that selling insurance remains a challenge as people would rather buy the latest phones or save up for cars. 

Etiqa is also banking on its digital channel to inform more people about its insurance products "as well as how fast we pay our claims," Ahmad said. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The company, he said, sets itself apart from other insurers by its proactive processing of claims. 

He said that in Malaysia, when monsoon rains come and water starts to rise, Etiqa sends a claims caravan to the affected area "so that people can get to the caravan and we pay out very quickly." 

Ahmad is also looking to ramp up "takaful" or Islamic financing, as the newly-ratified Bangsamoro Organic Law creates opportunities for financing based on Sharia, for the middle to upper income Muslims in Mindanao.

The country's 5 million Muslims present an attractive market for takaful, he said. 

Kamal though said much needs to be done policy-wise, to align the current insurance code with Islamic financing. 

The Insurance Commission's Dennis Funa had earlier mentioned takaful is a bit complicated because the rules are very different from that provided in the insurance code. 

New law may have to be drafted Funa was quoted saying, and to which Kamal says Etiqa would be willing to work on with the regulators in crafting.