HAP: Munich Re's Differentiation Strategy

Dongsheng Zhou, Livia Ruan

Research output: Other contributionCase Studies


During the rapid growth of China's commercial health insurance industry in the 2010s, many third-party administrators (TPAs) emerged to provide administrative services to primary insurers. However, most of these TPAs were small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) that offered poor-quality services and were often short-lived. This made them incompatible with the long time horizons and high risk management requirements of the insurance sector. There were also additional structural, institutional, and technical obstacles that primary insurers had to overcome to collaborate with TPAs. To address these pain points, in 2010, Steve Zhang, then Managing Director of Munich Re Life China, and Eric Zhao, general manager of the operations department responsible for insurance innovation, established HAP (Healthcare Assistance Platform) with a view to creating a one-stop solution for the customers of primary insurers by integrating top TPAs under one roof. After a decade of growth, by 2020, the company offered more than 30 services through this platform. It had also developed a set of criteria used to screen and evaluate TPAs, ensuring the quality of its services, which earned the platform recognition from primary insurers. As direct competition in the health insurance market intensified, and insurers became increasingly aware of the importance of customer service and data collection, many primary insurers started to develop their own service platforms, while reinsurers and TPAs also began to experiment in this direction. HAP was originally launched as a supporting service for Munich Re, so it wasn't placed under pressure to grow by the company. However, as HAP's operations matured and market competition intensified, Zhang began to entertain the possibility that the platform might grow its user base from three million to ten million in three to five years or perhaps even become a future profit center for Munich Re. However, he needed to carefully consider how this objective might be accomplished.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021

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Field Case

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Published by

China Europe International Business School


  • Differentiation Strategy
  • Reinsurance
  • business model innovation
  • profit model
  • service platform
  • value creation

Case studies discipline

  • Marketing
  • Service Management
  • Strategy

Case studies industry

  • Finance and Insurance
  • Health Care Services


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