Lawyer Suing Insurance Company Issues Consumer Warning

Indochine Official Says It Complies With Law

A lawyer for a client suing Indochine Insurance issued a warning to the public at a press conference Wednesday that the company is not what it claims to be and is not likely to fulfill any claims against its policies.

But Indochine managing director Philippe Lenain said Indo­chine has never pretended to be anything it’s not, and said his competitors are trying to ruin his company’s reputation with misleading accusations—a claim rejected by Indochine’s rivals.

The dispute began when law­yer David Chaniawa filed a lawsuit on behalf of his client Chong Soon Tee, the Malaysian director of Monopoly Import Export Co, Ltd. He is seeking $90,000 from Indochine.

Chong said he paid $6,777 in premiums for his policy with In­dochine to insure four vehicles. He says were stolen in 1998 and asserts Indochine must take responsibility for the claims.

Lenain said Chong rented out the vehicles to others, who likely stole them, and Chong’s policy doesn’t cover thefts committed by those entrusted by Chong to use the cars.

After Chaniawa took on Chong as his client, he conducted investigations that he says show Indo­chine doesn’t have a proper license to be an underwriter and that its parent company Son­nis­chsen Scan­dina­via Group doesn’t exist.

A search by lawyers in Singa­pore and Hong Kong show that only a company called Son­nischsen Scandinavia Hold­ings Ltd was registered, but it changed its name in 1998 to Indochine Insurance Holdings Ltd, according to incorporation papers. The memorandum of understanding for that company is unsigned, which Chaniawa says makes it invalid.

But Lenain said Indochine has never claimed to be an underwriter, as under current law, only the Ministry of Fi­nance’s insurance arm Caminco is the legal underwriter. In turn, insurance companies like Indochine act as bro­kers in charge of selling policies.

But because Caminco doesn’t have the capacity to fulfill its role as an underwriter, Indochine also has contracts with reinsurers to guarantee claims can be filled, Lenain said.

As for Sonnischsen Scandi­navia Group, Lenain presented documents that show the company is incorporated in the island of Nauru near Australia, and it is one of Indochine’s reinsurers, not its underwriter.

The companies found by Cha­niawa are the parent company of Indochine, which is incorporated in Hong Kong and has a representative office in Cambodia.

Chaniawa also said Indochine is no longer allowed to act as an agent for Caminco because a contract had not been renewed after the agreement ended in 1996.

Rath Sarath, reinsurance manager for Caminco, says Indochine is still one of its agents, as are Forte Insurance, Asia Insurance and Pana Insurance.

A new insurance law passed by the National Assembly would allow a company with a minimum of $7.5 million in capital for each line of insurance to apply as an underwriter or insurance company. The law is pending final government approval.



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