Hawaii’s JP Schmidt: There’s Opportunity in the Pacific

September 29, 2006

Hawaii may be a relatively small in size, but it hopes to reap big dividends using its geography, according to the state’s Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt. Because of its location, the Aloha state is perfectly poised to attract business in Asia, Schmidt said in an exclusive video interview with Insurance Journal’s Andrew Simpson.

At a recent meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Schmidt shared how his state has captured foreign business.

“We have very special relationships with the countries around the Pacific Rim,” Schmidt said. “As a result, there are numerous business opportunities there. We’ve been very successful in the captive area.”

As proof, Schmidt said Hawaii is in the top 10 domiciles in the world for captive insurance, and No. 2 in the United States.

“Some very large companies have set up captives in Hawaii … Chairman Wu from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission and a number of his deputies have come to visit and talk with me,” he said. “We also have good relationships with Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and a number of countries around the Pacific Rim.”

Furthermore, Hawaii has adopted the model port of entry law from the NAIC, allowing alien insurers from other countries to have an easier time doing business in the United States.

Dongbu, a member of the Dongbu Group conglomerate, is the first foreign company to take advantage of the law, according to the Commissioner.

“Hawaii represents a bridge in Korea-U.S. relations due to strong historic, cultural and social ties shared between the two countries. Hawaii’s role in opening the Pacific Rim and Asia for a thriving business exchange should not be underestimated,” said Kim Soon-hwan, president and CEO of Dongbu Insurance, when he announced the company would be entering the Hawaii market.

In addition to attracting business, however, Hawaii hopes to spread its good fortune by educating others. Schmidt said he is hoping to develop a graduate degree program in insurance and risk management at the University of Hawaii to develop leaders in the insurance industry. The program also would help to develop sound insurance markets in developing economies around the world, he said.

To hear more about Commissioner Schmidt’s plans to build the insurance throughout the world, visit www.insurancejournal.com/broadcasts/. The online video interview with Schmidt is one in a series of 15 interviews with state regulators titled, “The Commissioners,” all of which are available online on the Insurance Journal Web site.

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