Life insurers opposed to banks moving in

The nation’s life insurers joined ranks with their nonlife counterparts Feb. 21 in voicing opposition to the entry of banks into the insurance market through holding companies.

Kenjiro Hata, chairman of the Life Insurance Association of Japan, told a news conference that banks, with their vast knowledge of customers’ finances, would spur excessive competition and that some life insurers could be hurt badly. His remarks echoed those by Takeo Inokuchi, chairman of the Marine and Fire Insurance Association of Japan, the previous day. “We oppose the banks’ entry unless there are assurances that their insurance units would have no access to their information and that traditional business practices (which give banks great influence over other firms) change,” he said, adding that such an environment did not seem likely at the moment.

Banks have expressed strong interest in being able to sell insurance products at their teller windows, and the chance for them to handle insurance would increase if the current ban on holding companies is lifted as proposed in plans to revise the Antimonopoly Law.