With the boom of internet finance and the popularity of online shopping, China’s online insurance industry has some golden opportunities up for grabs. Low penetration rate and the country’s huge population combine to form potent market opportunities.

The country’s online insurance industry took in RMB 234.7 billion  (in Chinese) in premiums last year, compared with RMB 3.20 billion in 2011. Moreover, the insurance penetration rate rose from 0.22% in 2011 to 7.58% last year.

As many as 13 Chinese online insurance startups have raised more than RMB 1 billion (in Chinese) in total financing since last February, according to a report recently released by Chuancai Securities. Online vehicle insurance and wealth management insurance remained the two major forms, while life insurance has a relatively small share in online insurance.

Online insurance startups have shifted their focus from the B2C to the B2B model after having a hard time getting clients and generating revenue. In contrast, it is much easier to attract and retain corporate clients and insurance agents, said an insider.

The core risks for online insurance platforms may not stem from insurer titans, but from crossovers such as Alibaba and JD. The participation of these giants would trigger ferocious competition at a rapid clip.

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Sheila Yu

Sheila Yu is a Shanghai-based technology writer. She brings readers the biggest news from Chinese language tech media. Reach her at sheila@technode.com.