Zurich stops accepting new life insurance applications

Zurich said the move will not have an impact on existing customer policies. It has about 17,000 life policyholders here.
Zurich said the move will not have an impact on existing customer policies. It has about 17,000 life policyholders here.PHOTO: REUTERS

Life insurer Zurich will cease to accept new policy applications from today as it winds down its life insurance business here.

The two units that will be affected are Zurich Life Insurance Singapore and Zurich International Life Singapore.

Zurich's general insurance business will be unaffected.

The last time an insurance firm ceased to accept new business occurred in 2002, when the authorities directed general insurer Cosmic Insurance to stop collecting new premiums due to its financial woes.

Zurich said yesterday that not accepting any new life business will not have an impact on existing customer policies. It has about 17,000 life policyholders here.

All the terms and conditions of existing life policies will be safeguarded and services to these customers will remain unchanged.

An insurance practitioner, who declined to be named, said the writing was on the wall in October when Zurich Life transferred its 150 financial adviser representatives and 10 support staff to new financial advisory firm Nexus Singapore.

Zurich said at the time that it had decided to operate with an independent distribution model through financial advisers and banks instead of its tied agents.

It added that the transition would have no direct impact on customers as they would continue to be serviced by the same representatives.

Zurich is a small life insurance player in Singapore with an overall market share of 2 per cent of gross premiums as at the end of last year.

Sources said it has been unable to expand its business as it offers a narrow suite of products comprising investment-linked insurance such as Vista and term plans. About 70 per cent of all its policies are savings and investment plans with the rest being protection policies.

Mr Colin Morgan, the chief executive of Zurich's life business in Asia-Pacific, said yesterday: "Our decision to no longer accept new life policy applications in Singapore did not come lightly, but is a necessary action as part of prioritising investment where we can compete to win and establish a distinctive position."

A support team of about 35 people will remain to service all existing customers while about 40 staff will lose their jobs.

Zurich Life Insurance was set up here in 2012, six years after the Singapore branch of Zurich International Life was established.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2015, with the headline 'Zurich stops accepting new life insurance applications'. Print Edition | Subscribe