In just four years Chinese insurance has changed beyond recognition.

Insurance in China is booming and its potential as a market of the future is increasingly recognised globally as the major players vye for a piece of the action. But the market is still in its infancy, concluded Benfield's recent “China insurance market review”.

Total premiums for the industry rose from $26bn to $61bn in just four years, with a growth rate of 25% per year. “Rapid economic development, spurred by reforms, has been the driver for growth for the coutry at large and the insurance industry in particular,” said Benfield's Angelo Unson.

Since entering the WTO in 2001, restrictions on new entrants have slowly lifted and the total number of insurers in China has increased from 31 to 85 in the last four years. With a very low penetration rate of 2.7% and per capital spend of just $46 (compared to $3,747 in neighbouring Japan) the scope for further growth is massive.