Revenues for the industry grew 18 percent for 2008
The Infinity Insurance head office in Phnom Penh. The industry expects strong growth despite the economic crisis.
Cambodia's fledgling insurance industry grew 18 percent last year, despite global declines in the sector, said a finance official on Monday.
"Premium insurance revenues increased to US$20.5 million in 2008 from $17.5 million in 2007 - up 18 percent," said In Meatra, head of the Financial Industry Department's Insurance Division at the Ministry of Finance.
In Meatra said that Cambodians have begun to understand the advantages of buying insurance, especially for personal accidents and automobiles.
"Despite the crisis, we expect the insurance industry will at least stabilise or increase in growth this year, but we cannot say by how much," he said. Cambodia has five insurance companies: Forte Insurance, Caminco, Asia Insurance, Campubank Lonpac and Infinity Insurance, said the ministry. Two new companies are expected to enter the market this year - one local company and another from Malaysia.
David W Carter, chief executive officer of Infinity Insurance, said he expects the insurance sector to grow this year, despite the crisis. "We anticipate the insurance market to outpace Cambodia's GDP growth over the next year. So, if GDP grows by five percent, we expect the insurance market premiums will increase by 10 percent minimum," said Carter.
"This is mainly due to rising demand, as more awareness towards the advantages of buying insurance grows." He said that the discovery of oil and gas off the coast could dramatically boost the sector.
He estimates that between one and two percent of Cambodia's estimated 14 million population can afford the insurance.
Youk Chamroeunrith, director of Forte Insurance, Cambodia's largest insurer by market share, said Monday that the industry is growing but that more marketing is needed.
"Generally, in less developed countries the proportion of people buying insurance is very low compared to the developed world," he said.
"Cambodians are not interested in buying insurance, and they have less knowledge about the importance of buying insurance."
He said that most insurance buyers are foreign investors, adding that Forte's premium income was $8.8 million, for a 50.31 percent market share in 2007. Revenues were up about 15 percent in 2008, he said.