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Zurich Life to stop accepting new policy applications in Singapore from Dec 1

The logo of Zurich Insurance Group is seen on a building in Bern in this February 10, 2014 file photo. Zurich Insurance still expects to hit its financial targets after posting a steep drop in third-quarter profit, adding on Thursday that job cuts would be among the steps to boost its key general insurance business. The measures come after what was a difficult third quarter for the Swiss insurance giant. An aborted takeover of Britain's RSA and a profit warning stemming from $275 million in losses incurred by explosions at the Chinese port of Tianjin helped shares to their biggest quarterly fall since 2011.

SWISS-BASED insurer Zurich Insurance Group will no longer grow its life business in Singapore, as it moves to streamline its business.

This comes after the group on Monday said Zurich Life Insurance Singapore and Zurich International Life will no longer accept new policy applications here with effect from Dec 1.

The group said in a statement that the decision only affects the life business in Singapore, while it is business as usual for its general insurance division.

"Zurich has a strong local market position in the large General Insurance (Global Corporate) commercial space in Singapore and continues to invest in this business as evidenced by the establishment of regional corporate roles in Singapore to support the branch and strengthen Zurich's proposition to both Singapore domestic and international corporations in Asia Pacific," the group said.

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The insurer said the move to stop accepting new life policies "will not have any impact on Zurich's existing customer policies in Singapore".

"All the terms and conditions of existing life policies will be safeguarded and the service to these customers will remain unchanged. Zurich's commitment includes ensuring and guaranteeing the future servicing of all policies with a dedicated local customer management team, honouring all contractual obligations and ensuring sufficient capital to provide security for all existing policies," it said.

Colin Morgan, chief executive officer of Zurich's life business in Asia Pacific, said the decision "did not come lightly", but is a necessary action as part of prioritising investment where it can compete to win and establish a distinctive position.

"We spent a long time exploring the different options, but this unfortunately was the most feasible and practical under the current and foreseeable circumstances," he said.

The insurer said it will retain a core number of people to oversee the transition, as well as an ongoing dedicated support team to service all existing customers.

Wherever possible, it also "will do what it can to redeploy affected employees within the organisation".