“The common perception is that insurance is an old and tired industry, but the reality is that this is one of the faster moving industries to be in,” says Antony Lee, CEO of AIG Malaysia.
Lee, known among peers as a laid back, fun-loving executive, was wearing his trademark colourful pants for the interview with AWANI. This time - bright yellow.
“Our customers and clients drive our mission. We have this hashtag#AIGJagaYou. What it means is that we are always collaborating with our clients to see what works best for them."
Insurers need to evolve and innovate if we are to continue to protect our customers
Lee opines that the insurance industry is ripe for disruption, and he thinks there are many ways that AIG can be ahead of the curve in ushering impending changes.
“Technology has changed how we live, work and communicate. The current trends of democratisation of travel, the sharing economy, internet of things and big data will drive even more change."
"Insurers need to evolve and innovate if we are to continue to protect our customers. That is why most of what we do now is to gear up for this change, like introducing Artificial Intelligence into how we write our policies," says Lee.
“We know the key business in all of this is risk. That is why how we look at risk today is very different from how we looked at risk before,” he continues.
Originating from Shanghai in 1919, AIG is entering their 100th year of operations as one of the world’s largest insurers.
“AIG in Malaysia has a long-standing legacy of 66 years having operated in Malaya since 1953. That’s before independence, if anyone is keeping time,” he chuckles.
“The insurance industry in Malaysia has seen exponential growth and change in the past few decades. With Bank Negara setting the target for insurance penetration rate to be at 75 percent in 2020 from the current 56 percent, the industry needs to evolve and innovate to thrive in this era of liberalisation and insuretech,” he says.
According to a recent study from the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM), the total gross written premiums recorded in ASEAN increased by 6.5 percent year-on-year in 2017, to USD 86.6 billion.
Cloud computing was the way forward for data storage and now we have to consider ASEAN Cloud Computing platform for member countries
Meanwhile, the overall insurance penetration rate rose 10 basis points from 2.8 percent in 2016 to 2.9 percent in 2017. Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia have the most developed insurance markets in the region with contributions of insurance premiums at 29 percent, 28 percent and 22 percent respectively.
The ASEAN life insurance market recorded a 9.3 percent increase to USD 64.4 billion in net written premiums in 2017, with Singapore (21%), Thailand (18.1%), and Indonesia (14,4%) as top contributors.
The general insurance market has also registered significant growth with a 5.3 percent increase in its gross written premiums, led by Thailand (30%), Indonesia (21.2%), and Malaysia (18.4%) as top contributors.
“It is therefore extremely important for the regulators to support the industry in this transition from old to new. Cloud computing was the way forward for data storage and now we have to consider ASEAN Cloud Computing platform for member countries."
"Singapore has progressed well in digitalisation and ASEAN member countries should tap on their expertise," says Lee.