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More foreigners take insurance

Top Korean firms see surge in foreign customers here The loan default rate of Korean

The number of foreigners subscribed to insurance in Korea last year doubled from 2005, mainly due to relaxed application procedures and the rising number of international marriages, industry sources said Sunday.

The number of foreigners who have subscribed to insurance offered by the country’s top three insurance firms ― Samsung Life Insurance, Korea Life Insurance and Kyobo Life Insurance ― reached 14,417 in 2010, compared to 6,996 in 2005, according to the firms.

Of the three companies, 6,296 foreigners subscribed to insurances at Korea Life Insurance, followed by Kyobo Life Insurance and Samsung Life Insurance with 6,271 and 1,850 foreigners, respectively.

The figure is also expected to jump to 15,000 this year, considering that a total of 4,044 foreigners subscribed to insurances at the three firms in the first quarter of this year.

Foreigners residing in Korea for naturalization and investment purposes have to prove they would stay in the country for over a year when subscribing to insurance, said industry insiders.

Some other main contributors to the sharp increase of foreigner’s insurances are the increasing size of the foreigners’ community and international marriages in the country.

As of last year, a total of 918,917 foreigners were living in Korea, a jump of more than 430,000 from 485,477 earlier in 2005.

The number of international marriages also went up to 34,235 cases in 2010, increasing 30,000 to 40,000 more cases every year since 2005.

“The insurance application process for insurance was picky for foreigners in the past, but we decided to relax the rules, letting go of the stereotype,” said an industry source. “The insurance products are coming in more varieties, going further into long-term items like pension and permanent insurances.

By Cho Ji-hyun (