World Finance interviews Jimmy Hu, Senior Vice President of Cathay Century, on expanding its property and casualty insurance outside of Taiwan and into the rest of Chinese-speaking Asia
Cathay Century is a non-life subsidiary of Cathay Financial Holdings. The company is growing its market share, and is focused on delivering high quality services across the non-life sector. Jimmy Hu, Senior Vice President of Cathay Century, talks about its insurance offering in Taiwan, the drive to grow outside of the country, and its customer relationship initiatives.
World Finance: Jimmy, how important is it for Cathay Century to grow its market share across Chinese-speaking territories outside Taiwan?
Jimmy Hu: Cathay Century’s market share is second place in Taiwan’s P&C industry. The non-life market in Taiwan has developed over more than 50 years. The written premium has exceeded TWD 100bn since 2002. In the recent 10 years, the whole market written premium grew between TWD 100 and 120bn. With the limited growth of the P&C industry, expanding overseas is necessary to enlarge our company’s business scope.
The P&C market in China is the largest insurance market in Chinese-speaking territory. Its growth rate is up to 25 percent annually in the recent five years. China has become one of the most important markets the international insurance group wanted to station in. Our mainland China subsidiary was set up in Shanghai in 2008. Until now we have eight branches, except for our headquarters, in nine provinces. We hope to become the excellent foreign P&C company in the China market.
World Finance: So what are the key factors in expanding into these territories? The drivers of growth?
Jimmy Hu: It’s the same culture, and this is our natural advantage to expand into Chinese speaking territories, mainly in China. We have excellent operating performance in Taiwan: since the first year we have made profit. We believe we can bring successful business technologies and good corporate cultures to the China market, where insurance is developing in accordance with them.
Motor insurance is approximately 70 percent of the China market. China motor compulsory insurance was opened to foreign insurance companies from this year. It is favourable news to us, because we have enough experience to undertake motor compulsory insurance. We can seize the motor insurance market and increase business growth in the future, and also maintain good quality and a profitable business.
World Finance: Looking ahead, what’s the future for Cathay Century’s policy of internationalisation?
Jimmy Hu: Cathay Century will pass on the policy of reliable operations and balanced performance on both quality and quantity overseas. In addition, the overseas markets are so big that cultural climactic and economic development is very different among them. Even in China, each province has different customs and habits. We shall continue the implementation of localised operations.
Furthermore, as our need of development of internationalisation, we should assess the cultivation of various business professionals and a reserve talent pool. Still, by continue rooting the company and its subsidiaries’ capital structure to mid-future expansion point, demand for funds.
In addition to operating in the Chinese market, we also entered the Vietnam market in 2010. We will continue to take another step towards being the best financial institution serving Chinese-speaking communities in Asia.
World Finance: So in this very competitive market, how important is the customer experience in winning new business?
Jimmy Hu: There are an estimated $4bn premium volume year in Taiwan P&C market. However, there are up to 17 local and foreign insurance companies in Taiwan. In such a competitive market, content and the price of products is not the only concern for customers. Quality of service is definitely the key to keep customers. Risk management plans before business and the claims process after accident occurs are the main services.
Insurers must fully understand the risk that customers may involve and give them professional recommendations. Moreover, they can provide loss-prevention services for customers to reduce their risk opportunities. These approaches will benefit both customers and insurance companies.
When an accident occurs, insurers should timely compensate for damage to customers. An important factor to attract customers to, or renew, is whether one can do the above well.
World Finance: What would you say are the distinctive features of Cathay Century’s interface with your customers?
Jimmy Hu: Cathay Century is known as good quality of customer service. We always provide better customer service than our peers. We received a gold award at the Awards of Excellence this year. We released a campus programme and provide loss prevention services for elemental schools. We not only donated playground equipment and held campus safety seminars, but also taught children correct ways to use insurance by dramatic activities.
Besides, we launched the app My Mobicare in 2012. This is Taiwan’s first live insurance mobile application that integrates positioning, photo shooting, and instant contact to help motor insurance policy holders involved in traffic accidents. This app provides either our customers or the public. It is currently the most popular functional app in Taiwan. Those are the best proof that we emphasise our customer service.
World Finance: So how do you see Cathay Century’s commitment to quality developing in the future?
Jimmy Hu: We set up our service quality improvement team in 2012, so as to implement quality of customer service. We have regular meetings to discuss how to provide customers with better services, in order to smooth claim settlement. We release claims improvement team in loss prevention, we will not only upgrade fire risk assessment technics to factor risk, but also continue to promote a free campus programme. We consider expanding the range of services by extend to personal insurance. In order to approach international development, we will continue learning from the successful service experience of large international insurance groups. We hope to achieve the international standards of service at all levels, and become the most reliable insurance company.
World Finance: Jimmy Hu, thank you very much.
Jimmy Hu: Thank you very much.