Normal business resumes at AIA: Macau branch executive

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Issue 483, Page 2
Word count: 574
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Normal business has resumed at AIA Macau with new customers signing in, more insurance agents joining the force and also an increasing number of policy reinstatement applications received, said a senior executive of the insurer’s Macau branch yesterday.

After the outbreak of AIG’s liquidity crisis and the announcement of the US Federal Reserve Board’s US$85 billion loan to aid the company on September 17, hundreds of concerned customers in Macau went to the AIA Macau office to cancel their policies or inquire about AIA’s financial conditions.

In an exclusive interview given by AIA Macau office’s vice president and general manager, Chris Ma on September 19, the Macau Daily Times was told the insurance company would unconditionally reinstate terminated life policies for a two-week period as “customers might not have thought clearly enough” before withdrawing their policies.

Yesterday was the last day AIA Macau policy holders could cancel their policies while still enjoying the “special reinstatement offer” for the next two weeks until mid October.

“Customers who terminated their policies between September 16 and September 30, no matter what the reasons are, will be able to apply for policy reinstatement in two weeks after the date of cancellation,” Mr Ma told the MDTimes yesterday.

“We’ve been receiving a lot of inquiries and handling requests of policy reinstatement,” he added.

While life insurance can be reinstated fully without needing owners to undergo health checks again, Mr Ma said reinstatement of investment linked policies may come with certain conditions as their market values “fluctuate day by day”.

When asked whether it was unusual for an insurance company to allow ex-customers to have their policies unconditionally reinstated, Mr Ma said he believed that “no other insurance company has ever done the same.”

“Once a policy is cancelled, we are uncertain whether the customer’s health conditions have changed afterwards,” he said, “thus it’s a very big commitment AIA is giving to its customers and we purely want to preserve their best interests.”

The senior executive said a “relatively higher number” of policy cancellation applications were still seen last week, but starting on Monday the number has “resumed its normal level” of about 150 to 180 a month.

“Basically policy terminations only peaked for a few days during the week when our parent company AIG got the loan from the Federal Reserve Board,” Mr Ma said.

He added that recruitment in AIA Macau was still on-going and a group of insurance agents had joined the company last month.

“We keep having new policies signed over the past two weeks,” he told the MDTimes, “thus we can see that both customers and job seekers have complete confidence in AIA.”

“At the very beginning I already said that it was unnecessary to cancel policies and the Monetary Authority also declared promptly that Macau’s policy holders and beneficiaries never had their rights being put at stake,” Mr Ma added.

In his previous interview to the MDTimes, Mr Ma said no internal decisions were made of whether AIG would sell its wholly owned subsidiary AIA in order to repay the US$85 billion loan.

But yesterday he updated the MDTimes by referring to AIG’s new Chairman and CEO Edward M. Liddy in a CNBC interview on September 23.

“We absolutely are not going to tap into the core insurance business to pay back the government,” Mr Liddy told the reporter, adding “the regulated insurance entities at AIG are strong, powerful and will remain that way.”

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