Recently published research from Business Monitor International, "Bahrain Insurance Report Q1 2013", is now available at Fast Market Research
Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/19/2013 -- Key Insights And Key Risks
As of late 2012, it appears that Bahrain's insurance sector is in something of a hiatus. As is the case in the rest of the region, the life segment is dominated by the local subsidiaries of multi-national insurers that are selling products and solutions to expatriates. Official data points to a (small) fall in life premiums in 2011 and, for most companies, a fall in the numbers of policies. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the unrest which begain in early 2011 has resulted in a reduction in the numbers of expatriate workers.
Data about the development of life insurance through 2012 is fairly scant. Nevertheless, this challenge is, almost certainly, temporary in nature. If the economy grows and develops as BMI envisages, it is virtually certain that the number (and wealth) of expatriate workers will increase: their demand for innovative savings solutions will grow also.
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Indications from the non-life segment are mixed. According to the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), which regulates the insurance sector, overall premiums rose. Comments from particular companies, and the well documented problems of key areas of the economy such as the construction sector, suggest that times have been hard for many players in the non-life segment. As is the case across much of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the industry is fragmented, lacking in pricing power and (with some exceptions) unable to achieve regional economies of scale. The unrest that began in early 2011 led to an increase in claims. For many companies, investment profits have been unimpressive.
Meanwhile, reinsurance remains something of a wildcard for Bahrain. Bahrain is not a major reinsurance centre like Singapore or Bermuda, but it is an unusual market in that the reinsurance premiums that are booked are about 50% larger than the direct insurance premiums written. Arig reported that its reinsurance premiums for the first three quarters of the year were about 7% higher than they had been in 2011. The company's profitability was hurt by disappointing investment returns and by higher claims, partly due to damages relating to the Arab Spring but mainly because of exposures to the massive natural catastrophes that took place last year. Other major reinsurers writing business in Bahrain include local group Trust International, Hannover Re, Hannover Re Takaful and ACR Retakaful. If the CBB is able to attract one or two more substantial insurance groups to start operations in Bahrain - or if existing players dramatically increase their volume of business - Bahrain could emerge as an important provider of reinsurance cover to insurance companies that are operating throughout the region.
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