Until 2012, “Myanma Insurance” was the sole insurer in Myanmar. In September 2012, Myanmar government granted 12 new insurance licenses to domestic operators. As of August 2014, Myanmar Insurance operated its business activities via approximately 40 offices with around 1,500 staff members across the country. Insurance and insurance broking business must be conducted through either a company incorporated in Myanmar or a company established outside Myanmar with an established place of business in Myanmar Minimum capital requirements are MMK 6 billion for life insurance, MMK 40 billion for non-life insurance, MMK 46 billion for mixed. 10% of the paid-up capital must be deposited at the Myanmar Economic Bank and 30% must be used to purchase Government Treasury Bonds. The new companies focus their business on life insurance only, which requires a total paid-up capital of MMK 6 billion. The remaining nine companies are engaging in the life- and non-life insurance business (paid-up capital: MMK 40 billion for non-life insurance, MMK 46 billion for both life-and non-life insurance). The companies also have to pay a MMK 3 million-license fee and a MMK 1 million annual fee. Operations must start within one year after licensing. IBSB supervises all private insurance companies.
Opportunities and Barriers
Private insurance companies have been entering the market since mid-2013. Since the insurance sector is now open for private firms, it currently has enormous potential for growth since only 2.3% of the Myanmar population has formal insurance. Despite the promising recent developments, the Myanmar insurance sector is struggling in important aspects such as skilled workforce, modern insurance technology, reinsurance and experience in insurance supervision. A lack of public awareness about the importance of an insurance system is also one of the challenges faced by Myanmar insurance companies. As a micro-insurance market, has not yet emerged, access to insurance services is still limited to a relatively small part of the population, mainly from the middle and upper class.
Legal & Regulatory Framework
The Myanmar Insurance Law (1993) empowered Myanmar Insurance to engage in all insurance business activities (reinsurance business, determination of various insurance rates etc.). The Insurance Business Supervisory Board, which reports to the Ministry of Finance and Revenue, is responsible for licensing insurers, underwriting agents and insurance brokers. Myanma Insurance performs the work of the Supervisory Board. The insurance laws are silent as to portfolio transfers and to outsourcing. The Insurance Business Law (1996) entrusts the Insurance Business Supervisory Board (IBSB), controlled by the Ministry of Finance to scrutinize and decide on applications for the business license of an insurer, underwriting agent or insurance broker, and to determine their capital and limits of investment.
Allowed Types of Investments
Although private insurance companies are allowed in the country, their operations are still severely limited. Currently, all private insurance companies are to use the same premium rates in order to avoid potentially harmful competition. Since May 2013, private insurance companies are allowed to engage in six insurance policies: life, fire 14, motorcar 15, and fidelity, cash-in-transit and cash-in-safe. A health insurance system is also planned to be established in the form of a joint program between MI and a private insurer in Yangon and Mandalay. Only a few of the local insurers were allowed to sell their products on a USD basis. So far, 19 foreign insurance companies 19 have set up representative offices in Myanmar. In a first step, they are supposed to be allowed to start operations in three Special Economic Zones (Thilawa, Kyaukphyu, and Dawei) starting in January 2015 (Myanmar Times, 2014).
Collection of Papers on Myanmar’s Financial Sector, A joint publication of GIZ-Myanmar and Thura Swiss, January 2016