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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Managing risk catches on

Managing risk catches on

Despite the current stability of the Cambodian business sector, insurance against uncertainty has never been a more profitable business.

In the Kingdom’s current climate of economic dynamism, a new group of insurance companies have positioned themselves as a safety-net for adventurous investments, risky financial commitments and – even for the less entrepreneurially inclined – simple misfortune.

“Insurance is all about risk management,” said Charles Cheo, deputy managing director of Forte Insurance, one of Cambodia’s leading insurance firms.

“Branching out or taking risks is commonplace in all businesses, so having the assurance and support of the right insurance company makes exploring the unknown less of an anxiety. Insurance adds to your confidence to tackle greater and more promising challenges.”

According to Cheo, Forte Insurance has grown by more than 25 percent each year since arriving in Cambodia in 1999.

Insurance companies have also seen a steady growth in personal insurance plans, and as the personal wealth of Cambodians increases, more and more are choosing to purchase insurance as a guarantee against unforeseen circumstances, said Seng Someak, sales manager of Infinity Insurance.

Someak said that affordable motorbike insurance has been a popular area of growth for Infinity, which has been operating in Cambodia since February 2007 in partnership with Infinity Financial Solutions.

According to Someak, a client can purchase third-party insurance on a $1,500 motorbike for just $40, and can add insurance for their own bike for an extra $37.

Youk Chamroeunrith, Forte’s director, said insurance companies have faced challenges convincing Cambodians that insurance can be a useful, and necessary, long-term financial investment.

“In developing countries such as Cambodia and Laos, people do not really think about insurance. They are thinking of what is necessary for their day-to-day lives,” said Chamroeunrith. “People in developed countries think of insurance because they know they need financial protection.”

But Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, says that the Kingdom’s recent political stability and economic development has created a predictable business environment which will lead to the future expansion of the insurance sector here, explaining the recent influx of new insurance companies into the Cambodian market.

“They see that Cambodia will grow more and more in the future. Insurance companies anticipate a much bigger market in the future,” he said.

While insurance companies profit by insuring businesses and individuals against uncertainty, extreme instability in Cambodia throughout the 1990s stunted the industry’s growth.

“I think Cambodia is now politically stable and enough people have stable jobs. There’s a good deal of certainty and more people have reason to use insurance,” Sophal said. “Some uncertainty will always exist.”

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