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China’s insurance sector to expand on middle class, aging population

Updated: Jun 12,2016 1:30 PM     Xinhua

SHANGHAI — China’s insurance sector will continue to improve to meet demand from the swelling middle class and an aging population, the top insurance regulator said on June 12 at a forum in Shanghai.

China’s insurance sector saw its best performance in 2015 since the global financial crisis, with premium income reaching 2.4 trillion yuan ($366 billion), said Xiang Junbo, chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), at Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai.

Profits rose to 282.4 billion yuan on top of 12.4 trillion yuan assets for the entire insurance sector last year, Xiang explained. This was mostly driven by growing demand for insurance products by the middle class.

Xiang said insurance firms have been encouraged to invest in elderly care services, including senior care homes and reverse home mortgages.

Commercial insurance should be made a major pillar of China’s social security net, Xiang said. About 67 percent of China’s population, or 920 million people, are covered by medical insurance and the medical bill reimbursement ratio has been raised by 10-15 percentage points, he said, adding that the insurance sector should work to extend coverage in the rural area.

The insurance sector also has great potential to generate employment opportunities. Xiang said the sector added 1.8 million jobs last year. Another 560,000 jobs were added during the first four months of this year. Many, according to Xiang, are employees recently made redundant.