Insurance's Global Growth

Favorable Demographics and Development Boost Economic Growth in ASEAN Region

Although headwinds are pushing against the momentum, accommodative monetary and fiscal policies prevail

AN A.M. Best special report

October 30, 2019 — OLDWICK, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The development of insurance markets in the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has gone hand in hand with these countries’ economic growth and significant potential for future growth remains, according to a new AM Best report.

A new Best’s Special Report, titled, “ASEAN—Favorable Demographics and Development Boost Economic Growth,” states that economic development in the region has led to an increase in premium growth, and the momentum likely is to continue. Between 2008 and 2018, ASEAN total GDP, as a percentage of the world’s GDP, increased to 3.4% from 2.5%, and it is expected to grow to 3.8% by 2023. ASEAN has 10 member countries; however, the five largest economies among the 10 members—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand—contribute 88% of ASEAN’s total GDP. Current trade uncertainty has been a headwind to growth, but accommodative monetary and fiscal policies have been able to mitigate the slowdown partially.

Frontier Markets

Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam—ASEAN’s frontier markets—have been among the fastest-growing economies in the world. (Brunei is the 10th ASEAN member.) Favorable demographic trends in the region have helped to fuel the expansion. The trade conflict between the United States and China has the potential to be disruptive to the region, but may also provide an upside, as global manufacturers look to mitigate some uncertainty and diversify their production chains to countries other than China.

ASEAN’s total premiums were USD 92.1 billion in 2017, according to industry reports, compared with USD 15.8 billion in 1997. However, despite this growth, insurance penetration in the region remains low. In 2017, the average insurance penetration for the region was 3.6%, with the highest rate in Singapore (8.6%). While this represents a significant gap in insurance protection, it also highlights the significant opportunities for development in the future. Continuing economic and financial sector growths will help the insurance industry grow correspondingly.

economic development in the region has led to an increase in premium growth, and the momentum likely is to continue...

AM Best’s country risk tiers for the 10 ASEAN countries range from CRT-1 (Singapore) to CRT-5 (Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar). Overall, insurers operating in the ASEAN region face differing levels of economic, political and financial system risks, all of which are key components of AM Best’s country risk analysis. AM Best evaluates and incorporates country risk into all of its credit ratings; as country risk increases, the distribution of ratings tends to migrate down the rating scale.