SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) — Loans extended by South Korean insurance companies rose 1.6 percent in the first quarter, but the loan default rate remained unchanged, the financial regulator said Thursday.

Insurers’ outstanding loans totaled 238.4 trillion won (US$200.4 billion) as of the end of March, up 3.7 trillion won from the end of December, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said in a statement.

Their loans to households increased 0.1 percent to 121.3 trillion won in the first quarter, while lending to companies climbed 3.1 percent to 116.5 trillion won during the same period, it said.’

The loan delinquency rate, which measures the proportion of loan principal or unpaid interest for at least a month, came to 0.26 percent as of end-March, unchanged from a quarter earlier.

The delinquency rate for household loans remained unchanged at 0.57 percent, while that for corporate lending also remained unchanged at 0.11 percent.

The ratio of nonperforming loans came to 0.17 percent in the first quarter, unchanged from a quarter earlier, the FSS said.