A visit from Asia

The German secondary life insurance market as a possible blueprint for South Korea?

Munich, June14th, 2017 The Korea Securities Depository is considering to introduce a secondary market for life insurance in Korea. To get an overview of the secondary market in Germany as well as the mode of function of the US market as well as investor landscape, Dr. Hwa-Taek Lee and Ms. Ji Won Kim from the Korea Securities Depository came to Germany at the end of May for talks with Christian Seidl, board member of BVZL International, Max Ahlers, managing partner of Policen Direkt as well as representatives of BaFin, the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority. „We are very impressed with the German structured approach to this topic and also the initiatives taken in terms of consumer protection. It has been a great opportunity for us to have such fruitful and in-depth discussions with the major points of contact in Germany“, says Dr. Hwa-Taek Lee, researcher at the Research & Development Department of the Korea Securities Depository. Dr. Lee and his colleague Ms. Kim said their trip had a particular focus on research and analysis purposes to evaluate whether the set-up of a similar secondary life insurance market would also be possible in South Korea. „We were delighted to be able to provide our support to Dr. Lee and Ms. Kim regarding their stay in Germany and arrange helpful meetings for them“, states Christian Seidl. „And we will certainly stay in contact with the Korea Securities Depository to have an exchange on the further development in South Korea“.

The South Korean life insurance market is the world’s eighth largest, with a premium income of over USD 100 billion in 2015. The largest domestic life insurance carriers are Samsung Life, Hanwha Life and Kyobo Life. On average, Koreans hold more than four life insurance contracts, whereas in contrast to German policies, these are predominantly fund-linked and index-based products. In addition, the policies are often combined with health insurance components.

Korean policy owners also often use their contracts as an instrument for speculation. It can be observed that the number of new contracts and terminations seems to be linked to the developments of the stock markets. This comparably high fluctuation rate and relatively high rates of cancelation (over 10%) has now caused the Korea Securities Depository to evaluate the general sensibility and feasibility of introducing a secondary market for life insurance in Korea.