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Cambodia Life takes long view approach

Cambodia Life takes long view approach

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In Meatra, director-general of the Cambodia Life Insurance Company, at an event in Phnom Penh. Photograph: supplied

A new, government-owned life insurance company aims to provide a safety net for Cambodian families, according to In Meatra, director-general of the Cambodia Life Insurance Company Plc.

Located on the 21st floor of Canadia Tower, Cambodia Life opened on May 21 and has 23 employees.

“Cambodia Life belongs to the government. We will not go away. We totally guarantee to pay, and we will stay forever in Cambodia. We will not run away. This is the government reputation,” In Meatra said.

“The government set this up as a safety net for the people. At the moment, if the husband dies in one household, the rest of the family has nothing.

“The financial institution that holds the mortgage will seize their property if they cannot pay.”

In Meatra’s appointment by the Ministry of Economy and Finance in January as Director General of Cambodia Life came as the culmination of a long process of developing Cambodia’s legal framework for insurance.

The government began preparing for a legal insurance structure for Cambodia in 2007 with a feasibility study.

The work was delayed by the economic crisis of 2008, but by August of that year the government had issued a prakas (law) on life insurance.

“This is one of the remarkable events in Cambodia. We have never had this sector in the history of Cambodia,” he said. Cambodia Life is a joint venture with PT Asuransi Central Asia of Indonesia holding 25 per cent; Asia Insurance Company Limited of Hong Kong holding 8 per cent; Bangkok Life Assurance Public Company Limited of Thailand with 8 per cent and Bangkok Insurance Public Company Limited of Thailand, also with 8 per cent. The Cambodian Government’s Ministry of Economy and Finance holds 51 per cent of the joint venture.

In Meatra says other players in the insurance game in Cambodia have to put up $7 million to go into business here. They include Manulife of Canada, Prudential and a few others.

What differentiates Cambodia Life from others, according to In Meatra, are core values stated as “care, love, insure”.

“At Cambodia Life we have different skills, concepts and philosophy. We started from scratch and we are the youngest among the giants. But we have no hesitation to compete because we have good partners and good capacity to provide good service to our people.”

Cambodia Life provides three types of insurance: term life, which is provided by employers for people in high-risk jobs; whole life, which is payable to the family only after the policyholder dies or reaches 90 years of age; and mortgage insurance, which In Meatra says is the most popular.

In order to qualify for life insurance, Cambodia Life requires a check-up from the Chenda Clinic for about $20, a declaration of total income, and for the policyholder to be at least 20 years old.

“We target the formal sector where people have a formal salary. Our policyholders have to be honest with the company and have to prove the income with the company. We recommend people pay 20 per cent of their total income for life insurance, but they can decide by themselves,” he said.

In Meatra advises customers to focus on the amount of payout required in life insurance and they can calculate from there how much per month the premium will cost.

It can be as low as 500 riel a day, or about $54 a year, for a $5,000 payout.

“This benefit will cover death that occurs naturally, accident and sickness.

“Cambodia Life aims to provide a safety net for Cambodian people to make sure their families are safe and in the future they will be able to have sufficient financial resources to support their lives and stay out of crisis.

“Cambodia Life is the first ever of this kind of company and we will provide the full protection for Cambodian people and they can have full confidence in us.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]

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