Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority (IA) has taken over the affairs and assets of Target Insurance [6161:HK] and launched a probe into the firm’s financial condition, as reported by SCMP on January 7. The IA was able to conduct the takeover by exercising its power conferred by the Insurance Ordinance to ensure market stability and safeguard the policyholders’ interests. Before that, Target Insurance notified more than 11,000 taxi owners that it would terminate their annual policies and return the remaining premium in a week. The move left 60% of the city’s taxi operators without coverage, meaning they might be forced to suspend operation. As of now, four insurers, including Bank of China Group Insurance, China Pacific Insurance (HK) [2601:HK], China Taiping Insurance (HK) [0966:HK], and CMB Wing Lung Insurance have intervened to provide 30 days of insurance protection to the impacted taxi owners.
Clement Cheung Wan-ching, chief executive of the IA, stated that the regulator will retain Target Insurance’s business, but the company is prohibited from writing any new policies until the IA finishes the investigation on its financial situation. In response, Target Insurance executive director, Lin Feng, has complained to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), claiming the company was treated unfairly under the new management. Last November, the insurer disclosed that it may have to cease renewals of existing taxi insurance policies to protect its profitability. Data from the IA suggests that for ten of 15 years by 2019, the underwritten losses in the taxi insurance business exceeded HKD323m (USD41.4m), and the average annual premiums rose from HKD28,050 in 2019 to HKD33,902 in 2020.