Samsung Life Insurance Co.
and other South Korean insurers are stepping up efforts to expand into China, one of the world's fastest growing insurance markets, industry sources said Sunday.
Posting an annual growth rate of over 20 percent, China was the world's seventh-largest insurance market last year with 196 trillion won (US$163 billion) in insurance premiums, with the figure expected to top 200 trillion won this year.
Leading the pack of South Korean companies is Samsung Life Insurance, the top life insurer here.
The company said it had established Friday a subsidiary in Qingdao, a booming city in northeastern China.
The latest addition came on the heels of establishing its main Chinese unit in Beijing in 2005 and a Tianjin subsidiary last year.
"Samsung Life Insurance is seeking to capitalize on the upscale image of the Samsung brand boosted by stellar sales of handsets and TV sets in China in order to create solid business strategies there," a company official said.
The company so far has been successful, with its Chinese sales jumping from a mere 7.
4 billion won in 2007 to 45.
9 billion won in 2008, the official said.
Other South Korean insurance firms are following suit.
LIG Insurance Co.
, a non-life insurance company affiliated with LG Group, established late last year a wholly owned subsidiary in Jiangsu, a province located along the east cost of China, becoming the first foreign non-life insurer to tap the region, the local company said.
"LIG Insurance plans to first cater to South Korean firms operating in China and then target local individual buyers and drivers to further expand there," a company official said.
Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance Co.
, which is affiliated with Hyundai Motor Co.
, has also been operating an insurance unit in Beijing since 2008 to sell auto insurance policies to cash in on Hyundai's strong vehicle sales in the country.