China's first mutual insurer, Zhonghui Property Mutual Insurance, has opened this week in Beijing.
Zhonghui Property Mutual Insurance has initial working capital of CNY 1 billion (USD 146 million) which has come from 12 founding members and has 546 member/policyholders so far. The mutual will offer credit insurance to small and medium-sized businesses and will also offer short-term health and personal accident insurance.
In July 2016 the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) welcomed the approval of three licences by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) for the establishment of three mutual insurance companies: Zhonghui Property Mutual, Huiyou Construction Property Mutual and Xinmei Life Mutual.
According to other news sources the remaining two mutuals, Xinmei Life Mutual Insurance and Huiyou Jiangong Mutual Insurance, are waiting for the commission's final review before launch.
Xinmei Life Mutual (known as Trust Mutual) is funded by Ant Financial, an online payment services provider which is part of the Alibaba Group, and nine other investors. Trust Mutual will focus on developing pension life and healthcare insurance initially for customers of Alibaba utilising the Fintech knowledge of the Alibaba group.
Huiyou Jiangong Huiyou Construction Property Mutual will focus on new insurance products for specific risk protection needs of construction projects, liability and quality guarantee.
Chairman Li Jing of Zhonghui Property said that a 21-member committee will be elected by the 546 members to oversee the daily business operation and the investments of the mutual.
China's insurance sector registered CNY 3.1 trillion in premium income in 2016, up 27.5% from a year earlier. Total assets of the industry stood at 15.12 trillion yuan at the end of 2016, according to the CIRC. China is one of the largest and the fastest growing of the insurance markets and has grown by 188% in the last seven years.