GBA Outlook white paper: Opportunities in Insurance published jointly by Deloitte China and BOC Life | Deloitte China


As the engine of Chinese economic growth, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao (“GBA”) Greater Bay Area has a population of over 86 million and a combined GDP of RMB 12.6 trillion (equivalent to 11% of the national GDP). It presents many opportunities that insurers can capitalize on. Fueled by political support from the central and Hong Kong governments, there are plans to further streamline the cross-border insurance process.

Second from left: Joanna Wong, Partner, Hong Kong Insurance Leader, Deloitte China, Third from left: Wilson Tang, Managing Director of BOC Life

According to the white paper, customer behaviors and preferences for cross-border insurance vary from city to city. Therefore, insurers should consider specific city-based approaches to attract customers. GBA Outlook: Insurance Opportunities published jointly by Deloitte China and BOC Life. This document summarizes the results of over 1,100 respondents from the GBA and other continental cities. Its objective was to identify the differentiators and denominators of customer behaviors by age between mainland cities and Hong Kong.

According to the survey results, except for Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, insurance penetration in other GBA cities is less than 10%. A large majority (80%) of GBA customers have no experience purchasing insurance products in Hong Kong or Macau, but expressed a strong interest in learning more about cross-border insurance products , particularly interested in critical illness cover (64%) and medical insurance products (63%). More than 60% of respondents indicated that lack of familiarity with insurance products and regulations is the main reason for not buying insurance.

“To bridge the protection gap and as first movers, insurers need to revisit their strategy and tactics to position themselves as a leading brand in the GBA market. Interestingly, although Hong Kong customers generally prefer face-to-face interaction with their insurers, those in mainland cities are more receptive to digital channels,” says Joanna Wong, Partner, Head of Hong Kong Insurance, Deloitte China.

“In addition to complying with regulatory requirements relating to cross-border financial services, such as capital flows and data privacy issues, insurers looking to establish their footprint in and beyond this region in the future should consider to integrate as many digital touchpoints as possible into the customer journey, alongside physical service centers and state-of-the-art agents to maintain personalized human interaction and create a seamless customer experience.”

“The large population base of the Greater Bay Area offers enormous market potential and new footholds for the development of the insurance industry. The survey results in the white paper highlight light the needs of consumers in the region, helping insurers develop products and services to meet the different needs of customers across the GBA,” says Wilson Tang, Managing Director of BOC Group Life Assurance Company Limited (“BOC Life”).

Additionally, respondents from mainland cities with experience buying insurance in Hong Kong or Macau highlighted their offer of more reasonable premiums, higher returns and broader coverage. Another finding for Hong Kong-based insurers is that they lead (54%) in purchasing cross-border insurance products; and they are perceived as offering more trust and guaranteed quality of service.

In terms of insurance product preferences, critical illness cover and medical insurance products rank in the top two among GBA customers – both above 80%, while only 61% of Hong Kong respondents chose serious illnesses. In fact, many mainland customers prefer to purchase insurance from Hong Kong providers to enhance their healthcare benefits.

The pandemic has led customers to be more health conscious, with a greater focus on overall quality of life. More than 57% of respondents use a health app and 23% plan to use one for health monitoring, with particular interest in the rewards these apps offer. This seems like a good opportunity for health insurers to promote the benefits of their apps to increase customer engagement and loyalty.

When comparing product preferences between different age groups, choices are closely related to health and financial status. 96% of survey respondents aged 35-44 have experience buying insurance, while only half of the 18-24 age group do. Insurance products such as accident insurance, participating policy and life insurance are less popular with the younger generation.

Product offerings with short-term, convenient, and affordable propositions are one of many possible tools to gain more traction in GBA and are aligned with future trends. These proposals will be particularly attractive to young people who appreciate product flexibility and affordable premiums.

For Hong Kong insurers, although the pandemic has affected their business with mainland customers, it has created growing demand among customers for protection insurance products. Indeed, as noted in the white paper, about two-thirds of respondents are using health apps, reflecting an increased awareness of healthcare. Insurers should always stay close to customers’ health and wellness needs when designing insurance products and services.


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