Commercial insurance business going strong

Double-digit growth expected over next 3 to 5 years: AIG S'pore CEO

THE commercial insurance business in Singapore and across the region is set for strong growth over the next three to five years, said AIG Singapore chief executive Matt Harris.

Mr Harris told The Straits Times in an interview that he expects double-digit growth over that period for the sector, which includes insurance for business interruption and professional indemnity such as directors and officers' liability insurance.

Products gaining popularity include those that help firms manage cyber risk, says Mr Matt Harris. PHOTO: AIG

He noted on Monday that about 40 per cent of AIG's business is commercial insurance, while 60 per cent comes from consumer-related insurance.

Mr Harris, who took up his position in January, said there is "continual infrastructure activity that looks set to continue in Singapore", which creates opportunities when it comes to insuring major projects, the liability exposures that are created by some of those projects, and small businesses.

He added: "From a commercial point of view, insurance is not just about safety but also helping businesses manage their risk."

Mr Harris noted that new products gaining traction include those that help firms manage cyber risk.

"It's still difficult for a number of organisations just to understand what their cyber risk is because it's such an unknown."

AIG offers products that cover cyber risk for first- and third-party exposure, for instance.

The growth potential for consumer insurance is somewhat restricted, said Mr Harris, owing to the limitations of the number of vehicles here and the stable population.

But travel insurance is promising for the general insurer.

"Based on a recent survey we conducted in Singapore, we discovered that three out of four travellers who have travelled by air or sea in the past 12 months had purchased travel insurance for their trips."

AIG Singapore, which has about 700 employees in Singapore, wants to do its part to help the country become an insurance hub by 2020.

"We'd like to see more people attracted to the industry from a potential career perspective. It's incredibly diverse, and working with a global insurer like AIG, there's huge scope to move around the region or the world," he noted.

"It's an interesting career, but we can do a lot more in showcasing that to graduates, and by being part of financial literacy programmes and more."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2015, with the headline 'Commercial insurance business going strong'. Print Edition | Subscribe