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Swiss Re’s cancer policy could trigger further innovation


A new insurance product conceived by Swiss Re that could result in millions of Chinese citizens receiving cancer treatment they could otherwise not afford could provide the model for many types of similar policies applicable to different illnesses or countries being developed in the future.

The Swiss reinsurer has partnered with Roche Holding, the world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs, and several Chinese insurers, to devise and offer the new product it estimates will be bought by 10 million Chinese in the first year alone. About 2 million people die from cancer each year in China, accounting for about 25 percent of all deaths.

But Robert Wiest, Swiss Re president for China, says that research is already being conducted that could eventually lead to a similar product being developed for many other critical illnesses such as diabetes – another big problem in China. Meanwhile, the suitability of the concept to other emerging markets in Asia and Latin America is also being explored.

“This product has started small for us but it is very innovative concept and it could provide the model for the way in which many of the challenges facing developing societies are potentially solved,” said Wiest. “It could potentially work for a number of illnesses and in many different markets.”

He says Swiss Re has been pleased with the way the product has developed for a number of reasons. 
“As a company, this fits well with our sense of corporate and social responsibility in that we can and should be developing products that help societies develop and offer individuals benefits that they could otherwise not afford,” he says.

"Also, it is very good business for us. The potential scale of products like this is substantial. China has 1.3 billion people and cancer is the second biggest cause of death in the country. And that is just one country and one product that dynamic can be applied to. So we have two things coming together which create a sustainable solution: huge demand and an economic viable basis." 

The product itself will be sold by Chinese insurers that Swiss Re generally already has a relationship with. The Swiss company will then reinsurer this portfolio, the exact arrangements depending on wider issues such as the insurers risk appetite and its wider relationship with Swiss Re.

Swiss Re, cancer drugs, pharmaceuticals, healthcare

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