AIA Group

Our Heritage

In 1919, a young American with a passion for enterprise, Cornelius Vander Starr, opened a small insurance agency at 15 Nanking Road, Shanghai. His "enterprise" soon extended to life insurance with one simple business idea: people in Asia would find insurance attractive because of their desire to care for their family and be prudent.

AIA continued to increase its footprint in Asia with the establishment of branch offices in Hong Kong and Singapore in 1931. When AIA entered Malaysia in 1933, Asia was in the grip of the Great Depression. Its 1938 establishment in Thailand was during the same decade that a constitutional monarchy was formed. In Indonesia, AIA was founded in 1951 as Indonesia was emerging as an independent nation. Again, AIA opened in South Korea at a pivotal time, 1987, as the reform era dawned and Seoul prepared to host the Summer Olympics Games.

Focusing on customers' needs has always been the AIA Group's priority. In anticipating our customers' changing needs, AIA has scored several 'firsts':-

  • Australia: First life insurer to successfully launch an electronic application process to customers
  • Brunei: First life insurer to promote investment-linked policies and bancassurance
  • China: First wholly-owned non-mainland Chinese life insurer to receive an operating licence
  • Hong Kong: First life insurer to provide policyholder services through Voice Response System
  • India: First life insurer to launch health insurance product
  • Indonesia: First life insurer to provide customised distribution models for bancassurance partners
  • Macau: First service provider to offer internet inquiry and fund switching service to pension fund scheme members
  • Malaysia: First life insurer to receive the International Takaful operator licence
  • New Zealand: First life insurer to offer key person benefit to businesses
  • Philippines: First life insurance company in the country to introduce ground-breaking insurance products such as the first principal-protected variable life product, first variable life product with High Water Mark (HWM) or highest daily value lock-in feature, first variable life product without a premium charge, and the first health insurance product with coverage up to age 100
  • Singapore: First life insurer to set up a Financial Health Check Academy to train AIA agents
  • Korea: First life insurer to offer full in-hospital product and non-participating product
  • Taiwan: First life insurer to launch guaranteed issue senior life insurance product
  • Thailand: First life insurer to offer a unit-linked product
  • Vietnam: First wholly US-owned life insurer to receive an operating licence