Muang Thai Life Assurance Plc wants to expand into neighbouring countries to capitalise on a broader market driven by regional economic integration over the next three years.
‘‘We’re studying Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam,’’ says Mrs Pakineenard.
"We're preparing not only investment planning but also sales agents and customer services," said Pakineenard Tiyachate, a director and senior executive vice-president.
Either agency channel expansion, where the sales force goes outside Thailand to sell its insurance products, or a joint venture with local partners, or both will be chosen after careful study.
A feasibility study should be completed this year or next, ahead of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2016.
"Like other Thai investors, we're studying opportunities in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam," said Mrs Pakineenard.
She said the company does not need to raise any new capital to invest outside Thailand.
"Our rapid business growth and retained earnings have ensured a strong capital base," said Mrs Pakineenard.
Muang Thai Life's assets grew to 150 billion baht last year from 116 billion in 2011. Of the total, investment assets represented 95%.
Its life-insurance policy reserves exceeded 125 billion baht last year, with capital funds of 20 billion and a capital-adequacy ratio (CAR) of 370%, well above the minimum of 125% required by the Office of the Insurance Commission.
The risk-based capital ratio represents the amount of capital based on risk assessment that a company should maintain to protect customers from adverse developments.
The CAR will be increased to 140% for 2013-15.
Last year, Muang Thai Life recorded gross written premiums of 48.9 billion baht, up by 30% from 2011.
Of the total, new business saw exceptional growth of 32% to 21.7 billion baht, with renewal premiums increasing by 26% to 27.2 billion.
The company plans to raise its gross premiums to 50 billion baht this year through a larger distribution network that covers alternative channels such as department stores and hospitals.
Despite rapidly rising assets, Mrs Pakineenard insisted the company will maintain a cautious investment strategy and cap its exposure in stocks at only 10-12% of investment assets.
Private debentures account for 25-30% of the portfolio, with loans including policy loans at 10% and the rest in government bonds.
The company estimates its investment yield at 5% this year, the same as last year.
"We've tried our best to balance our investment portfolio and take into account our financial stability. We now have adequate investment assets to cover liability," said Mrs Pakineenard.
In a related development, Chai Chaiyawan, the president of Thai Life Insurance, said his company is also studying investment expansion in the region.
"In fact, we've prepared our working procedures and services to cope with an open market since Thailand's financial crisis in 1997," he said.
"We now have branches in provinces on or near the border _ Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Songkhla and Surat Thani _ that are well prepared to accommodate foreign customers, be it policy underwriting, claim payouts or other services."
Last year Thai Life Insurance raised its registered capital to 10 billion baht from 500 million to facilitate regional economic integration ahead of the AEC.
About the author
- Writer: Charoen Kittikanya
Position: Business Reporter