Camlife is the oldest life insurance in Cambodia. In a recent interview, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. Tondy Suradiredja spoke more about Camlife’s history and what the future holds.
Can you tell us about the Camlife story?
TS: Camlife was the very first life insurance company to open its doors in the Kingdom of Cambodia. The company was inaugurated in April 2012 and was operated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and the Asia Insurance Group, which consists of companies from Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong. Fifty-one per cent of Camlife’s shares were owned by the MEF, while Asia Insurance held 49 per cent.
In 2015, the shareholders decided to sell 100 per cent of the shares to the Royal Group of companies, which belongs to Neak Oknha Kith Meng.
Camlife was not only the first life insurance company to begin operations in the Kingdom, but is now also 100 per cent owned and operated by a local entrepreneur, and the company believes this is something all Cambodians can be proud of.
What is the value proposition of the new Camlife?
TS: We want to focus on providing simpleyet affordable and easy-to-access life insurance protection products.The company believes that this is the best way to educate Cambodians on both the concept and the benefits of life insurance.
The core concept of life insurance is to protect your loved ones from any circumstance related to the loss of a loved one. Especially a loved one who is a financial provider. With life insurance, whenever you, as an income earner, are no longer around due to an unforeseen event, your loved one’s dreams can still be kept alive. The life insurance protection can offer an alternative means to a new life for those who suffer from the hardship of the loss of a loved one.
What are the biggest hurdles that you’re going to face in delivering the value proposition?
TS: One of the biggest hurdles we face is the lack of awareness of life insurance in general, coupled with the taboo of talking about the “risk to life.”
Life insurance is a relatively new concept to people in Cambodia. And at the same time, it is generally the mindset of most Cambodians to avoid any subject related to the loss of life. People usually consider any insurance premiums as an unnecessary cost or expense, rather than as a valuable necessity.
What is the meaning of the new logo?
TS: The new logo represents “Khmer Belief.”In Buddhism, the lotus flower symbolizes purity and re-birth. The colours, blue and red,taken from the Cambodian flag, represent the company’s true Cambodian identity, as Camlife was the very first and is now 100 percent locally owned. Camlife wants to be perceived by the majority of Cambodians as a viable, trustworthy, and dependable way to achieve a better life. Hence the company’s motto, “For a Better Life.”
Going forward, what is Camlife’s business strategy?
TS: From a product perspective, we want to understand what Cambodians really need and want from life insurance products, but not however, as a means to an end, not merely to achieve higher profits for the company. Cambodians need and want life insurance products that provide more benefits to their family at an affordable price. Also, they want products that are easy to understand and easy to access.
From a market perspective, and because Camlife is a member of the Royal Group, it intends to integrate and create synergies under the group’s business platform.
Therefore, Camlife intends to focus on flexible product customization, so options can be bundled and cross-sold to help it extend our current market share.
From an operational platform, we intend to reformat the operational processes following the model of ISO 9001:2008, and put more emphasis on a technological automation process.
And as for the human capital development, we’re following the international standards and best practices of life insurance company management, by sending all of our staff and executives, 99 per cent of whom are Cambodian, to be trained and certified overseas.
You mentioned that Camlife will focus on protection products. Could you please elaborate?
TS: As I mentioned earlier, the core concept of life insurance is protection. Camlife wants to deliver a clear message to prospective customers or clients, that Camlife will be there when needed, to protect their loved ones. To begin deliver insight messages, we’ll shortly introduce a Family Protection Plan, which not only covers the income earners of the family, but also other family members, at an affordable price.
How about products that are already sold in the market, which give the consumers not only protection but also a saving component?
TS: Those are endowment products. We also offer those, which give consumers not only protection but also a saving component. However these kinds of products can be expensive and can be complicated to understand. If customers want to save, they should go to other financial institutions such as banks or MFIs that offer higher interest rates.
So would you say that these endowment products are misleading products?
TS: Well, I wouldn’t go that far. They are just expensive and complicated to explain. For example, with Camlife’s family protection product, you only need to spend around $35 a year for an insurance amount of $5,000 to cover an entire family of four.
However, with an endowment product, which generally provides the customer with low interest rates and survival benefits, you’ll probably need to spend over $500 per year.
The wise option would be to buy a protection product at a low premiumrate and put the money saved in a bank or MFI to gain higher interest rates. On top of that, at a bank you can withdraw your deposit at any time. This cannot be done with endowment products. Being part of the Royal Group, Camlife has a range of partners who can provide these services.
OK, so now Camlife is a member of Royal Group of Companies. How do you see this giving added benefits to Camlife in the future?
TS: Being part of the Royal Group is one of the company’s greatest strengths in the face of competition in the industry. As part of the Royal group, Camlife intends to become a one-stop financial service provider. Within the Royal Group there are two insurance companies, a bank, a microfinance institution, a payment transfer service as well as other services.
In the future, you will be able to purchase life insurance through Cellcard, Wing, and other Royal Group partners and companies. And to add on to your basic life coverage, you can also buy health insurance from Infinity Insurance. This will give Camlife a competitive advantage and increase the confidence of consumers in the company.
You can visit the company’s roadshow booth at AEON Mall this coming Sunday, July 3rd, from 9:00am to 9:00pm. There will be a special offer on hand for Camlife’s products, and a lucky draw.