Vietnam insurance firms expect Covid-19 profit downers

By Quynh Trang   July 5, 2020 | 06:28 pm PT
Vietnam insurance firms expect Covid-19 profit downers
Aircraft are parked at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on April 15, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Many insurers have lowered their profit targets, finding it harder to sell non-life insurance products as Covid-19 restricts travel, tourism and international trade.

In their 2020 annual general meetings that took place last month, these firms mentioned the novel coronavirus pandemic as the main reason for falling non-life insurance sales.

While the wholesale sector of aviation, tourism, and cargo insurance has always been slower than retailing general insurance, the pandemic has made this segment even harder, they said.

"Insurance is an industry that inherently follows the performance of others, so it has been seriously affected by the pandemic. Flights, tours, and transportation have stagnated, exports and imports have fallen, resulting in a large number of unsellable general insurance products," said Do Truong Minh, director of Bao Viet Group, one of Vietnam’s biggest insurers.

Bao Viet Group predicts that revenue will fall 5 percent year-on-year by 2020-end, having taken into account fee payments from insurance contracts entered into before this year.

Petrolimex Insurance Corporation (Pjico Insurance), a subsidiary of state-owned petroleum distributor Petrolimex, has also said that the decrease in gasoline consumption due to low demand for transportation, together with record low gasoline prices during the pandemic, have adversely affected their petroleum goods insurance revenues.

With the coronavirus pandemic under control in the second quarter and gasoline prices gradually climbing back up, Pjico Insurance estimates that income from petroleum goods insurance would fall short of their target by 20 percent.

Insurers have also mentioned that other types of wholesale insurance such as property, technical, and project insurance have seen poor growth with dwindling international investment.

Aviation insurance has taken a hit, with Vietnam having canceled all international flights since late March and operating less domestic routes, causing aviation insurers to refund insurance fees for unused aircraft.

Revenues are also expected to drop for motor vehicle insurance, a key sector which often accounts for 40-50 percent of many insurers’ revenues. With consumers in financial difficulties and cutting down on major expenses, car sales between January and May dropped 34 percent year-on-year to 79,396 units, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

Pjico Insurance, for instance, predicts that revenue from this segment will fall 8 percent year-on-year at the end of 2020.

Bao Minh Insurance, a major insurer listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE), have also said that they have entered into fewer new insurance contracts this year, while many existing customers have asked to cancel insurance covers or defer fee payment as a result of business difficulties.

It expects revenues and profits to decrease by around 15 percent year-on-year.

Total premiums collected by insurance companies in Vietnam last year reached VND160.18 trillion ($6.92 billion), up 20.5 percent year-on-year, with non-life insurance accounting for approximately one-third of this figure, according to the Insurance Supervisory Authority (ISA).

2019 was the sixth year in a row that the Vietnam insurance market has achieved a premium growth compound rate of over 20 percent.

The growth figure for 2020, as predicted by the ISA before the Covid-19 pandemic, was 13.3 percent year-on-year, with securities firms citing high economic growth, increasing income per capita, aging population and increasing hospital fees as key drivers for the sector’s growth.

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