Premiums on direct and reinsurance inward business in Hong Kong grew by over 11% in the first nine months of 2008, according to the latest figures available from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI). Splitting this into gross and net premiums for direct and reinsurance inward business, gross premiums were up 11.3% compared with the same period in 2007 to HK$20.9 billion and net premiums were up 11.1% to HK$15.0 billion.
However, profits on underwriting fell dramatically, from HK$1.8 billion to HK$814 million in direct and reinsurance inward business and from HK$893 million to HK$130 million when reinsurance is excluded from that figure. The motor business turned from a profit of HK$13 million to a loss of HK$223 million, property damage dropped from HK$247 million profit to HK$24 million and losses on employees' compensation widened from HK$87 million to HK$375 million. Accident and health, however, saw profits expand from HK$255 million to HK$342 million.
Despite the mixed fortunes, the market remained very crowded with 174 authorised insurers on 19 February 2009, and figures from the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers show that the number of registered agents continued to grow. In November, there were over 57,000 registered agents, an increase of 8.5% over the previous 12 months.