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Oct 2017

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Singapore: Old-timer OAC adopts Great Eastern name

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Oct 2017

Singapore Property & Casualty C-Suite

Singapore’s pioneer non-life insurer, OAC, marks a new chapter with rebranding as parent company Great Eastern looks to further build its general insurance business.  
By Ridwan Abbas
 
 
Singapore’s first locally-owned composite insurer, Overseas Assurance Corporation (OAC), has been rebranded Great Eastern General Insurance (GEG) – with parent company Great Eastern Holdings announcing the change in name for its general insurance arm in August. OAC’s Malaysian operations has also adopted the new name. 
 
   The rebranding is part of Great Eastern’s strategy to “strengthen its focus to further build its general insurance business into a significant pillar of growth for the Great Eastern Group”, the insurer said in a statement. 
 
   The rebranding marks yet another chapter in GEG’s history, which dates back to its inception in Singapore as Overseas Assurance Corporation (OAC) on 4 February 1920. With paid-up capital of S$650,000, it became the first wholly locally-owned composite insurer at a time when insurance companies in Singapore were essentially foreign, mainly British.
 
History
Back then, OAC’s formation was backed by eminent members of the local Chinese business community, and it was these very people who subsequently formed OCBC Bank – the longest established Singapore bank formed in 1932 from the merger of three local banks, the oldest of which was founded in 1912. OCBC is now the second largest financial services group in Southeast Asia by assets. 
 
   The affiliation between OAC and OCBC continues till today, with parent entity Great Eastern Holdings an 87% owned subsidiary of OCBC. 
 
   Although largely a general insurer, OAC ventured into the life insurance business in 1955 which marked a historical milestone for the company. 
 
An important local player
In the 1980s, with the successful development of the Singapore and Malaysian economies, there was an increasing need for insurance protection. Risk, especially non-life risks, had grown significantly in size and complexity and OAC played an important role in insuring such risks. 
 
   For instance, OAC was involved in insuring major buildings such as OCBC Centre, Raffles City complex and Centrepoint. In December 2000, OAC merged with Great Eastern Holdings, and in 2002 it became the first bancassurer in Singapore to cross the S$1 billion (US$741 million) mark in new bancassurance sales. 
 
On a growth agenda
Fast forward to the present day and the renamed entity GEG is looking to build on its growth momentum by leveraging on the synergies with both Great Eastern and OCBC Bank. 
 
   Great Eastern Holdings Group CEO Khor Hock Seng said: ““Our general insurance business has been growing steadily and we fully intend to build on the good momentum. Moving forward, a strategic focus will be to leverage the huge customer database and distribution capabilities of Great Eastern and OCBC Bank and draw on our collective strengths to tap into new growth opportunities to serve individual and corporate customers.”
 
   “We will be boosting our digitalisation capabilities to make it more convenient and easier for customers to do business with us and vice versa. With our Travel Smart Premier mobile app, customers can access information and purchase travel insurance on-the-go 24/7. This is just the start. We will be enhancing our app capabilities to facilitate the purchase of more products as well as the submission of simple claims in the near future.” A 
 
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