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Brokers break down barriers

John George, the international chairman for MGA Asia Insurance Broker
John George, the international chairman for MGA Asia Insurance Broker, talks to the Post in his office in Phnom Penh earlier this month. Pha Lina

Brokers break down barriers

MGA Asia Insurance Broker – a subsidiary of MGA Australia – was officially established in Cambodia on August 28, operating as an insurance broker firm. MGA Cambodia – a joint-venture investment between MGA Australia and local investors – has 11 people including its management team. The company’s chairman, John R George, talked to the Post’s Hor Kimsay about the operations of the new firm.

Why did you come to do business as an insurance broker in Cambodia?
The Cambodian insurance brokerage business is worth around $44 million and we predict that in the next three or four years, this will double. We hope MGA Cambodia will be able to be a part of that, helping the insurance industry provide services to businesses and people. It is quite opportunity for us.

Your office in Cambodia is the first MGA office in Southeast Asia. Why did you choose Cambodia as the first place in the region?
Yes, this is the first subsidiary of MGA Australia that has an office in Southeast Asia. If I go to Hong Kong, Singapore or Thailand, there are many brokers there. Coming here, we are the only relatively big firm in the market. It is the best way for us to grow.

Why should we have an insurance brokerage firm?
It is important to have a brokerage firm which plays a role like the middleman to negotiate and offer a reasonable price for both the client and insurance company. The most important thing is the claiming process. We, the broker, negotiate with insurers to provide adequate compensation to the clients.

What is your policy on service charges?
We don’t charge service fees from our clients as only the insurance companies are obligated to pay the fee to the broker, which must follow the regulations laid down by the authorities.

What is the difference between buying insurance from a broker and directly from insurance company?
Buying insurance from a broker, a client can receive a better policy with us at a reasonable price. A broker can clarify the contract is suitable for them and brokers also assist in the claiming processes.

Are insurance firms’ staff and workload decreasing due to the growth of insurance brokers?
Because we run a business that replaces the insurance companies, they don’t have to do as many things anymore. So that is very true, it isn’t necessary for them to have a large number of employees.

Why do insurance companies need to cooperate with you?
We negotiate with insurance companies. We are not working to represent only one company, but we operate on behalf of our client to secure the best insurance possible for both parties. We work with insurance companies for the mutual benefit of them and the client.

Cambodians have a limited understanding of the advantage of having insurance. Is it a challenge?
Of course it is a challenge. But over the next few years it will become obvious. Cambodia’s average income is increasing and they have more assets. They work hard to get it so they need to protect it. We have seen new buildings going up everywhere. This growth, we want to be a part of that growth.

This interview has been edited for length

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