Dan Sweet

Warren Buffett on Chinese insurers (2 of 12)

This is the second in a series of twelve posts. The introduction to the series is here. By way of review, these are my notes of Warren Buffett’s responses to questions from Notre Dame and Stanford MBAs on October 9. 2007.

Do you find any of the insurers in China attractive?

You can’t own more than 24.9% of anything—that’s a problem for us.

Distribution is still expensive there.

Do some business with reinsurers. Look at auto – didn’t exist 100 years ago.

Insurance was a cartel with bureau rates. Competed to get the best agent with the best insurance.

1921 – a farmer started State Farm. “The Farmer from Merna” took captive agents direct to consumers.

1936 – Leo Goodwin and his wife Lillian went more direct by mail and started Geico—lower customer acquisition cost than competitors

Look for a big business where you can offer the consumer a better deal.

Geico got in trouble in 1976—bought half. 1995 – bought the rest.

Gates called and asked Munger and I to come up to give the orangutan perspective on the internet. Gates said “Here is the internet—tell me how to make money with it. I had just bought Geico but I never thought of it. No one in the room thought of disruptive technology, direct selling, search, etc.

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