Foreign insurance firms have closed a total of 11 offices in China so far this year, Reuters reported. The closures included Lincoln National offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the Shanghai office of Japan First Life and the Beijing and Guangzhou offices of Swiss Life. Insurance officials blamed the closures on the small size of the market, worth only Yn200bn in premiums last year or less than 3 per cent of the US market, and the continuing restrictions on the operations of foreign insurance firms.
Foreign firms have so far gained only a small share of the market. Chinese media said in September that their premium income last year was 1.55 per cent of the total, with a maximum of 12.7 per cent in Shanghai. Much of the foreign share is accounted for by the US firm AIG, which entered the market in 1992. Freed from the requirement to take a Chinese partner, AIG has been the most successful foreign insurer in China.