Despite low penetration, Indonesian insurance expands following rising demand


Indonesia’s economy and, with it, the financial services sector, has experienced growth since 2015, spurring demand for a diverse portfolio of insurance products. Life insurance is the country’s dominant segment, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the sector, but demand for general insurance products has risen in recent years. Growing interest has been driven by a number of factors, including successful education efforts by the public and private sector, leading to rising awareness of insurance products among different demographics. Prudent investment practices, the overall strength of the national economy and more robust reinsurance coverage has also led to a trend of increased uptake.

The tax amnesty programme rolled out in 2016, coupled with increased government expenditure on infrastructure, have driven demand for financial products as a result of greater liquidity in the system. The life insurance segment in particular has shown strong gains in the last year and over the past decade, reaching an all-time high of Rp167trn ($12.6bn) in premiums in 2016. This performance continued into 2017, with life insurance premiums totalling Rp35.19trn ($2.7bn) in the first quarter.

Insurance companies are also attracted to the country’s long-term growth prospects, due to its positive underlying fundamentals. One of the chief draws is the large, young and increasingly affluent population, combined with relatively low penetration across all products. A 2015 report by PwC points out that the urbanisation taking place in Indonesia is “likely to increase purchases of life, annuities and pensions products as people migrating into cities have to make individual provision for the future rather than relying on extended family support”.

NON-LIFE: The non-life segment is largely being driven by property and motor insurance. Although overall economic growth picked up in late 2016, the effects of the 2015 slowdown continued to be seen in the non-life segment through the first half of 2017. In spite of this, insurers are optimistic that broader economic factors will lead to renewed growth in the coming years.

“People will naturally buy more insurance with growth in GDP,” Rio Winardi, president director of BCA Life, told OBG. “Customer education and trust in insurance products and services will further increase public confidence in insurance. Joint work among companies, media, regulators and insurance associations would create a more desirable confidence and awareness effect.”

Protection provided by the growing reinsurance market, which is supported by regulatory action to boost domestic reinsurers’ capacity, is also having a positive effect on the non-life segment. At the same time, changes in the national governance framework are bringing greater clarity to the system. While the market is very far from being saturated, more competition has been entering the local arena in recent years, a trend that is expected to continue as the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community brings further market liberalisation.

BUILDING UP: In an underpenetrated market such as Indonesia, some of the most influential drivers of insurance growth are economic expansion and liquidity in the financial system, although other factors are important as well, such as the regulatory environment, distribution channels, consumer knowledge and geography. As such, the number of people who sign up for insurance policies tends to move in tandem with economic growth. As household incomes rise and the middle class expands, more people are able to put money aside for the future – and some goes to insurance.

These households are also more likely to buy expensive items, such as cars, on which they take out non-life policies. When the Indonesian economy temporarily slowed in 2015 and early 2016, growth in the insurance industry also stalled, and continued to be negatively affected through the first half of 2017. Given this correlation, recent government moves are fuelling optimism for stronger growth over the next few years.

One reason for a positive outlook is the government’s sizeable infrastructure spending programme, which is injecting money into the economy on a large scale. This is evident in the annual budgetary allocations for infrastructure projects, which have climbed steadily over the past four years, increasing from Rp154.1trn ($11.6bn) in 2014 to Rp387.3trn ($29.2bn) in 2017, when infrastructure accounted for 18.6% of total projected expenditure.

The majority of these infrastructure projects are coming to fruition; according to the latest available data from Bank Indonesia (BI), 88.2% of planned infrastructure projects were realised in 2015 and 84.9% in 2016. This not only indirectly boosts the insurance sector and increases liquidity, but also directly affects business in a positive way as infrastructure projects need to be insured.

In addition, the industry regulator is encouraging insurance firms to diversify their investment base as the industry grows in the coming years. Consultancy firm KPMG forecasts that in the years to 2020 premiums will see compound annual growth rates of 13% in life insurance and 10% in property and casualty lines, reaching ID243trn ($18.32bn) and 81trn ($6.11bn), respectively.

In March 2017 the commissioner of the Financial Services Authority (OJK) for the non-bank financial sector, Firdaus Djaelani, specifically urged firms to help fund infrastructure projects, either directly or by purchasing state bonds. He suggested that some projects run by state-owned enterprises had internal returns of up to 13%.

FINANCIAL STRATEGY: The increased infrastructure expenditure is being supported in part by enhanced revenues as a result of the tax amnesty programme initiated by President Joko Widodo’s administration in 2016. The efforts to recoup missed tax income and repatriate unreported money and assets proved successful, with Rp4970trn ($374.6bn) in assets being declared during the nine-month programme, which ended on March 31, 2017 (see Capital Markets chapter). While the government has elected to channel a significant amount of repatriated revenue into its infrastructure plans, providing a shot of liquidity to the financial markets is an equally important result of the initiative.

The cumulative impact of fiscal policies, along with BI’s decision to reduce interest rates by 175 basis points between January 2016 and October 2017, is likely to increase economic growth, which could indirectly lead to increasing demand for insurance products. At the same time, the issuance of new government infrastructure bonds is likely to bolster investor trust in these products, and the long maturity of these instruments could help mitigate volatility and prove to be an attractive investment option for insurance companies.

REINSURANCE: These nationwide infrastructure investments will support development across the sector, and boost the reinsurance segment in particular. A July 2017 report from credit ratings agency Fitch forecast reinsurance would expand more than any other segment in 2017. This would come on top of the 23% yearly average return on equity that Indonesian reinsurers saw between 2011 and 2016.

The segment’s combined ratio – its expenses and losses divided by its earned premiums – also fell from 91% in 2015 to 83% in 2016, Fitch said, indicating greater efficiency in operational costs.

The agency said reinsurance would expand more than any segment in 2017, with loss ratios in the automotive and property lines to improve in light of lower expense claims in 2016.

Capital injections were also expected for 2017 from parent insurance companies, as domestic operations increase, partly a result of state efforts to keep reinsurance business onshore.

Meanwhile, income from new premiums collected in the property and engineering insurance segments – driven by nationwide infrastructure investments – should further support development as protection from reinsurance coverage grows and the segment gains from regulatory reforms.

GO LOCAL: This accelerated growth in part stems from significant structural reforms made to foster the development of local reinsurers, with the government extending special regulatory support in a bid to ensure their dominance. Since January 2016 Indonesian insurers have been required to conduct all reinsurance business in the so-called simple risk categories – namely motor, health, personal accident, credit, life and surety – exclusively with domestic providers. In addition, for all other non-simple categories, at least 25% of reinsurance must be placed with local firms. This move was formed as part of efforts to preserve market share for local reinsurers, in order to keep capital in the country as well as strengthen the domestic segment.

Looking further ahead, the longer-term goal for the government is to develop the local reinsurance market into one that is capable of expanding offshore, generating the market depth that would be required to cover insurers elsewhere in Asia. However, foreign reinsurers have voiced concerns over this domestically oriented policy, characterising it as a restriction of free trade. Additionally, the European reinsurance federation, Insurance Europe, has argued that these protective reforms effectively shut foreign reinsurers out of the market, which could potentially expose the Indonesian sector to risk, since it results in a lack of diversification.

In terms of the main domestic players, until recently Indonesia was home to five reinsurance firms: four of which were owned by the state, while the fifth, Maskapai Reasuransi Indonesia, was listed on the Indonesian Stock Exchange. In 2015 the OJK announced that it planned to eventually merge the state-held reinsurers into a single entity to better compete for regional risk and premiums. In June 2016 Reasuransi International Indonesia, which was the country’s largest reinsurer by net premiums in 2014, signed an agreement with Reasuransi Indonesia Utama, another major state-owned reinsurer, to merge their operations to form Indonesia Re. This newly made entity, which was formally created at the end of 2016, has targeted equity of $1bn by 2020.

LIMITING FACTORS: Despite high levels of growth in the insurance sector over the past decade, the market remains underinsured and penetration rates are still below those of other emerging economies. In an explanation that rings true for the capital markets and banking sectors as well, one of the primary reasons for this is the challenge of reaching people across the vast geographic dispersion of some 17,000 islands. Consequently, the penetration rate – gross premiums as a percentage of GDP – remains relatively low, at 2.35% in 2014 and 2.56% in 2015.

That being said, penetrating the more remote areas of the country is less of a priority for insurance companies than further tapping into the underinsured and easier-to-access urban markets, where there is a larger concentration of wealth, and a more financially aware and educated population. “There is still a lot of low-hanging fruit,” Sudyawi Sahlan, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer of Tokio Marine Life Insurance Indonesia, told OBG. “Before we think about moving to Papua and other areas, there are still a lot of opportunities in Jakarta and Java because they are so underserved.”

CONSUMER EDUCATION: Another reason often cited as contributing to the relatively low penetration is a general lack of understanding of insurance products. Seeking to address this, both the government and the private sector have launched education campaigns to better inform the public of their benefits. On the state side, regulations have been enacted that require most financial institutions – including insurance companies – to engage in financial literacy programmes when offering products.

For the industry’s part, the Indonesian General Insurance Association (AAUI) provides training and instructional seminars to educators, who in turn pass on the information to students and others. As awareness of insurance products and their utility grow, other related topics are coming into focus. “General knowledge of insurance products has increased recently, so we are now coming to a point where pricing could become the next point of discussion,” Sahlan told OBG.

A lack of qualified sales agents is also holding back the industry, as companies often depend on such people to reach out and grow their customer base. A negative perception of the insurance profession can sometimes discourage students from choosing to study the field or deter established salespeople in other industries from trying their hand at insurance. However, Rianto Ahmadi, president director of BRI Life, told OBG, “Recruiting agents in Indonesia is generally not an issue, but it is essential to keep improving their service quality to better respond to the needs of clients in terms of selling the right products and handling claims.”

GAME OF LIFE: The life segment continues to expand, largely driven by continued economic growth, increasing product knowledge and new distribution channels. Gross written life insurance premiums reached more than Rp137trn ($10.3bn) in 2016, up 8.6% from the previous year, according to the OJK. At the same time, the industry recorded total income from premiums of Rp167trn ($12.6bn) in 2016, which is equivalent to a 29.8% increase over the prior year. This positive growth trend showed no signs of slowing into 2017, with the total premium income for life insurance increasing by some 28.2% year-on-year (y-o-y) in the first quarter of 2017, reaching Rp35.2trn ($2.7bn).

The primary growth conduit over this period was bancassurance, which saw income from premiums increase by 74.1% in 2016, compared to 6.2% growth at traditional agencies. As a result, in 2016 bancassurance became the largest distribution channel in the industry: it controlled a 43.3% share of the market, taking the top spot from agency business, which held 38.9% of the market that year. This is a marked shift from 2015, when agencies were responsible for 45.3% of income from premiums, and bancassurance accounted for 36.6%.

TEAMING UP: The uptick in bancassurance that is driving growth in the sector as a whole is changing the traditional practices of how and where customers purchase insurance. As a result, most of the dominant players in the life segment have been actively moving to create greater linkages with banks in recent years to adapt to the new landscape.

According to a report by PwC titled “Life Insurance 2020: Competing for the Future”, banks have an advantage over independent insurance advisers in the developing markets of Africa, Asia and the Middle East because their customer bases are already well established. The public tends to place more trust in the financial suggestions offered by banks than speaking with insurance salespeople.

Given the growing influence of bancassurance within the sector, the OJK has enacted new regulations specifically for this distribution channel. The first regulation to apply specifically to bancassurance was Circular Letter No. 32, issued in August 2016. This document formalised a set of rules governing the sector across a number of categories, including the financial relationships and activities between insurance companies and banks, as well as a clarification of underwriting, claim settlements and client data confidentiality.

The rise in bancassurance is also increasing uptake of unit-linked insurance plans. In this type of policy, the policyholder is given the option of investing in a number of qualified products – such as stocks, bonds or mutual funds – when purchasing their plan. These policies are growing in popularity as the number of bank accounts and investments in financial markets continue to increase, in part through concerted government efforts to expand financial inclusion among the population.

“Combined with other methods, bancassurance is one of the best channels for increasing penetration in the Indonesian market, especially through the strong presence of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the banking sector,” Geger Maulana, president director of BNI Life, told OBG.

By pairing insurance plans with other investment vehicles like stocks and bonds, insurance companies can benefit from improved access to potential new clients. Unit-linked products accounted for 55% of weighted new business premiums in 2015.

DIGITAL MIGRATION: In addition to the rising popularity of bancassurance, another trend gaining momentum in the industry is the use of digital channels to seek out and purchase insurance products. Looking to tap into growing demand among tech-savvy consumers, some companies are offering entirely web-based services, such as the branchless ING Direct platform. Nevertheless, some potential consumers – particularly in rural areas – are not yet comfortable with the purchasing process without personal interaction at traditional branches.

If a person does choose to purchase an insurance product – either online or through an office – they have the option of paying their premiums through online banking or mobile money platforms. However, these payment methods still have some issues to work through. “Development of infrastructure and technology for payment solutions in Indonesia still needs improving in order to cater to insurance businesses, especially in terms of recurring payments,” Tham Chee Kong, president director of Tokio Marine Life Insurance Indonesia, told OBG. “However, this is complicated, due to the heavy reliance on savings accounts to perform transactions.”

COMPARISON TOOLS: Since 2013 a handful of new start-ups have been providing online resources, which allow potential customers to compare various financial products from different companies at the same time. Some of these services are entirely dedicated to insurance offerings, such as RajaPremi, which was established in 2013 to provide information and comparisons related to auto and personal accident insurance; while Cekpremi and PasarPolis, formed in 2014 and 2015, respectively, also provide aggregated insurance information to consumers.

A number of other applications offer similar online comparisons, but for a range of financial products including banking, loans, credit cards, mortgages and insurance. These include popular platforms such as HaloMoney, which was established in 2014 and also operates in other countries in the region, and CekAja, founded in 2013.

From a regulatory standpoint, these companies still operate in a grey area, with the OJK working on an overarching framework to govern the sector. As these products operate online, business activities could be subject to oversight by numerous bodies. The Ministry of Communications and IT, for instance, monitors the internet, while the BI is responsible for payment systems and the OJK is directly responsible for the insurance industry as a whole.

TOP PLAYERS: Although life insurance dominates the market in terms of assets and policies, the line had less active companies at the end of 2016 compared to the general insurance segment.

Companies operating in the Indonesian life market have experienced modest growth in recent years, reflected in the number of participants expanding from 45 in 2011 to 55 in 2015, according to data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS). The largest insurance firm in 2015 was Prudential Indonesia, with Rp28trn ($2.1bn) in life gross written premiums (GWPs) that year, for 21.2% of the market.

The next-closest rival, with Rp11trn ($829.2m), was Allianz Indonesia Life, followed by Jiwasraya and Manulife Indonesia, both with Rp10trn ($753.8m) in GWPs, and Indolife Pensiontama with Rp9trn ($678.4m). Rounding out the top 10 were AIA Financial and AXA Mandiri, both with around Rp8trn ($603m) in 2015, followed by Sinarmas MSIG with Rp7trn ($527.6m), Adisarana Wanaartha with Rp5trn ($376.9m) and Panin Dai-ichi with Rp4trn ($301.5m).

According to the October 2017 “Indonesia Insurance Report” by BMI Research, total life GWPs in 2015 equalled Rp126.8trn ($9.6bn). This means that the top-10 insurance companies accounted for over 75% of premiums that year. The research firm forecasts Rp166.3trn ($12.5bn) and Rp202trn ($15.2bn) in life GWPs in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

ADDED OPTIONS: With only a few companies holding major shares of a market that is still under-penetrated, there remains ample opportunity for other players. After a slow start to 2016 the OJK awarded new licences to four life insurance companies towards the end of the year, which took effect in the first quarter of 2017. Three of these firms – Asuransi Ciputra Indonesia, Asuransi Jiwa Millenium and Pacific Life Insurance – are new players in the market, while Asuransi Jiwa Bumiputera was established as a life insurance company following a restructuring exercise involving Indonesia’s oldest insurance mutual, Bumiputera 1912.

Looking forward, regulators have voiced encouragement of greater competition in the growing market. Dumoly F Pardede, deputy chief commissioner for non-bank financial institutions at the OJK, told press in early 2017 that the regulator is very open to allowing new players in the domestic insurance industry in order to raise the penetration rate.

MORE TO LIFE: General or non-life insurance has yet to achieve the penetration and premium levels of the life segment. Its composition is also much more fragmented, with over 80 different companies operating in the market – significantly more than its counterpart. In addition, the large non-life insurance companies are predominately domestically owned, unlike the major life insurance firms.

Private local players have shown tendencies to focus their efforts on maintaining a strong position in the property and motor product lines, while state-owned insurers focus on commercial lines in support of SOEs such as Pertamina, the national oil and natural gas company.

As the general segment lacks the economies of scale that benefit larger players in the life insurance market, non-life insurance has proven more susceptible to volatility surrounding the economy as a whole. This was the case in 2016 and in the first half of 2017, after the automobile and property insurance industries slowed slightly when the economy lost some momentum as a result of falling commodity prices in 2015. This delayed reaction continues to drag on the non-life segment, as sales in these two categories continue to lag.

In the first half of 2017 automobile and property accounted for more than half of the non-life market, each with a share of 27.8%. Gross premiums rose by 5.5% to reach Rp61.9trn ($4.7bn) in 2016, but fell short of the 10% growth target set by the AAUI, according to a statement made by the association. The industry is closely intertwined with the government’s economic growth. As such, if the growth assumption is achieved, the industry can still target a double-digit growth figure in 2017.

MIXED RESULTS: These challenges continued through the first half of 2017, as premiums declined by 4% y-o-y to Rp29.16trn ($2.2bn). Although a 7% decline in property premiums from Rp8.7trn ($655.8m) to Rp8.1trn ($610.6m) had an impact on the non-life segment, it was the aviation hull line that suffered the greatest losses; premiums in the first semester declined by Rp656.94bn ($49.5m) y-o-y, equivalent to a shrinkage of 78.8%. Other large declines were present in the surety ship product line, in which premiums dropped Rp366.88bn ($27.7m), or 37.5%; energy, which fell by Rp216.57bn ($16.3m), or 15.5%; personal accident, where premiums were down Rp101.53bn ($7.7m), or 14.5%; and credit, which declined by Rp223.68bn ($16.9m), or 8.8%.

On the bright side, the motor vehicle segment rebounded soundly, adding Rp667.96bn ($50.3m) in premiums y-o-y, an increase of 9%. Positive growth was also seen in marine cargo, at 4.3%, and the liability product line, which grew by 0.8%.

One segment currently experiencing rising uptake is health insurance, with premiums growing 10.2% y-o-y in the first six months of 2017. This expansion is expected to be sustained over the medium to long term as the changing macroeconomic and demographic environment of Indonesia, coupled with the current low levels of market penetration, make the product ripe for growth.

The Indonesian health insurance market has experienced dramatic change following the launch of the government’s universal health care programme, known locally as JKN, in 2014. The provision of basic health care coverage via the governing Social Insurance Administration Organisation (BPJS) can be seen as complementary to private health insurance expansion, with the JKN increasing consumer awareness and providing a basic service with which private insurers can compete.

While the government also provides investment into hospital infrastructure and medical personnel training, the state offering could improve its operations and linkages with the private sector. “The health care industry has the potential to grow significantly, but there is an urgent need to improve and promote efficiency. The JKN scheme is the solution to achieve this,” Iwan Pasila, president director of Mandiri Inhealth, a local health insurer, told OBG. “There are many synergies to be found between private health insurers and BPJS, and both sides need to proactively explore those opportunities for better health care funding in Indonesia.”

ASSETS: The insurance industry’s asset base has grown in parallel with premium expansion over the years, with the total asset pool valued at Rp1101trn ($83bn) as of August 2017, according to OJK data. The majority of these are held by the life insurance segment, which accounted for Rp509.67trn ($38.4bn) of the total, while general insurance assets were valued at Rp129.77trn ($9.8bn). The remaining assets were distributed among social insurance, at Rp318.53trn ($24bn); mandatory insurance, valued at Rp125.64trn ($9.5bn); and reinsurance, which held assets of Rp17.96trn ($1.4bn). Overall asset growth has been robust in the past six years. The mid-2017 level of over Rp1101trn ($83bn) is more than double the Rp481.75trn ($36.3bn) of 2011.

INVESTMENT INFLOWS: The ratio of investments relative to the total assets of the insurance industry was 80.3% in 2014 and 80.4% in 2015, and the total value of funds in 2015 was Rp686.1trn ($51.7bn). These investments were channelled into 18 different financial products, although the majority of these are focused on only five categories.

The top-two investment destinations for insurance companies in 2015 were time deposits and certificates of deposit, which attracted Rp156.5trn ($11.8bn), or 22.8% of the total portfolio, slightly more than the Rp155.7trn ($11.7bn) invested in shares listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange. Next were government bonds, which amounted to Rp139.6trn ($10.5bn), or 20.3% of the total.

As state infrastructure building ramps up, government bonds issued to finance these projects and the many SOEs operating in the sector are likely to attract more investment interest from insurance funds. In 2015 the segment experienced its biggest gains, adding Rp66.7trn ($5bn) in investment value from 2014. This came largely at the expense of private bonds and sukuk (Islamic bonds), which declined by Rp45.1trn ($3.4bn) over the same period.

The remaining two major investment categories were mutual funds, with Rp117.7trn ($13.4bn) invested, and sukuk and corporate bonds, which together attracted Rp87.1trn ($6.6bn) in investment.

INDUSTRY THOUGHTS: The PwC “Indonesia Insurance Survey 2016” report identified regulation as the top risk facing the industry over the next two to three years. In the eyes of insurers, this concern outweighed apprehensions related to market conditions and the macroeconomy, which ranked second and third, respectively, followed by human capital, distribution channels, investment performance and others. Consequently, 58% of survey respondents expected to be faced with increasing legal and compliance risk in 2017, including 73% of non-life and 53% of life insurance respondents.

When looking at specific areas of concern, tax regulation was the single-most important issue cited by insurers. The respondents felt the need for greater clarification in respect to taxation, followed by clearer foreign ownership limitations. Other major issues of concern – cited by both life and non-life insurers – were risk management, capital and solvency requirements, customer protection and anti-money laundering requirements, along with information and technology.

Despite some apprehension, companies view these changes as opportunities to bring greater transparency to the regulatory environment and ease the process of compliance. Nearly 70% of survey respondents indicated that the current wave of regulations will benefit the sector in spite of it also posing the largest short-term risk. “There is a need for banking consolidation and independent regulation,” Chris Bendl, president director of Zurich Topas Life, told OBG. “In return, this will push for more independent financial advisors.”

OUTLOOK: The insurance sector as a whole looks set to continue displaying strong growth, underpinned by rising consumer awareness, conservative investment practices, stable economic expansion and heightened reinsurance coverage. This generally favourable economic outlook bodes well for corporate profits and household incomes in Indonesia, which should support healthy levels of uptake in both the life and non-life segments. While the former retains the dominant share of the market, BMI Research forecasts non-life insurance GWPs will rise from Rp59.4trn ($4.5bn) in 2016 to Rp71.1trn ($5.4bn) in 2018 and Rp84.6trn ($6.4bn) in 2020.

With many of the regulations stipulated by Law No. 40 of 2014 – the New Insurance Law – having now been implemented (see analysis), much of the uncertainty surrounding the sector that was evident in 2015 and 2016 should be lifted, as companies’ concerns over compliance, foreign ownership, capital requirements and other issues are eased.

In the non-life segment, premiums will be bolstered by increasing uptake of health and personal accident insurance, while property insurance is expected to rebound in early 2018. General insurance is likely to remain heavily weighted towards the motor vehicle and property lines, and therefore may be susceptible to shocks in either product, although other segments will continue to make inroads. In the life segment, enhanced consumer knowledge of insurance products, the spread of financial technology and increased urbanisation will all contribute to robust growth, buoyed by the strength of major insurers and efforts to add new players for increased penetration.

Even though there are strong growth expectations for the foreseeable future, the sector is still starting from a relatively small base, and as such the penetration rates are likely to remain relatively low in both segments for the short to medium term. Regarding efforts to further the distribution of insurance products, the shift from traditional agencies towards bancassurance partnerships and digital channels should improve results over time. The trend will also likely drive additional uptake of specific products, such as unit-linked insurance plans.

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The Report: Indonesia 2018

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