Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/27/2012 -- Key Insights And Key Risks
The Iran Insurance Report considers the prospects for both life and non-life insurers in the country. As of mid-2012, the latest data published by Bimeh Markazi Iran, the insurance regulator, suggests that total premiums increased by 27% in Iranian year 1389, which ended in March 2011 (please note this year is shown as 2010 in the tables in this report). This was a lot more than the growth of 15% or so that we, and other commentators had been looking for. The implication is that non-life penetration has risen decisively above the level at which it had stagnated in 2005-10, specifically 1.1-1.2% of GDP. In the coming months, we will be looking for further details as to what are the key drivers of this growth. It is not impossible that the major insurers have been able to increase prices. We would be amazed, though, if it is significantly because of developments in Iran's miniscule life insurance sector. One of the defining characteristics of the economy is entrenched high inflation (and expectations) thanks to persistent monetisation of fiscal deficits. This produces an environment in which no prudent person would enter into a long-term savings contract. Unless and until economic policies in Iran change radically, the reality of the insurance sector will fall a long way short of its potential.
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Iran's insurance sector has a number of strengths, including scale in terms of gross written premiums per annum. Bimeh Iran, the largest company that is a state-owned enterprise, is one of the largest underwriters in the Middle East and would rate as a reasonably large insurer in most countries. Non-life penetration has, as noted above, consistently remained slightly above 1% of GDP. Among other things, this suggests the regulatory regime is reasonably sound. Iran's insurers have managed to survive in the face of various challenges - not least of which is the almost complete lack of access to the global reinsurance markets. Unlike in other Middle Eastern countries, Iran's insurance sector does not consist of a surprisingly large number of sub-scale non-life companies that are offshoots of local business interests that do not have a clear edge in the industry.
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