Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/24/2013 -- The limited data that is available suggests that premiums are surging - or, more correctly, recovering from a low base in Libya. The overwhelmingly non-life market of Algeria has also achieved good growth through 2013. However, our overall view of insurance in the region is unchanged from previous years: North Africa remains a backwater. Sadly, this will likely be the case at the end of the forecast period.
To differing degrees, the markets of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria are small, slowly growing, significantly constrained by the low levels of income for many households and dominated by sub-scale local insurers. Foreign companies are present but, except in Morocco, account for a fairly low percentage of activity. Life insurance, in particular, is underdeveloped. Major shareholders are often state-owned enterprises or conglomerates that have no clear competitive advantage in insurance.
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Some or all of these problems apply in most of the insurance sectors of the MENA region that are profiled by BMI. Worryingly, though, non-life penetration and life density in the four North African countries remain low and/or have not been growing for some years. A comparison of Algeria, Tunisia and - to a certain extent - Morocco on one hand with Jordan and Lebanon on the other is stark. The latter two countries do not have substantial energy wealth and have long faced political challenges as daunting as those confronting the three North African countries. Over recent years, though, there has clearly been rapid development of insurance thanks to imaginative collaboration between the regulators and the trade associations in Lebanon and Jordan. Lobbying for new compulsory insurance products is under way, new products are being developed, takaful operators are seeing growth, and sensible measures are being taken to reduce claims costs. This is not the case in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco (or, although it is outside the scope of this report, Egypt).
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