BEIRUT: Lebanon’s insurance sector has seen reasonable growth in 2012, especially in the non-life field despite the economic slowdown and tense regional situation.
According to a recent report, the country’s non-life premiums stood at $928.6 million in 2012 compared to $869.6 million in 2011, registering an increase of 6.8 percent, less than the 7.5 percent growth recorded in 2011.
The Lebanese insurance sector has seen steady growth in profits, assets and premiums over the past 10 years although this growth is still far less than many Asian and European countries.
Insurance firms say the Lebanese are showing more interest in both life and non-life insurance and that this is attributed to the awareness that insurance has become a basic need for the citizens in the absence of proper government medical coverage.
The slowdown in the growth of non-life premiums last year is attributed to the shift in consumers’ preferences toward acquiring smaller and cheaper cars, reduced export volumes to Europe due to the eurozone’s ongoing crisis.
Non-life premiums totaled $808.1 million in 2010, $720 million in 2009, $590.5 million in 2008 and $482.7 million in 2007, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group. Non-life insurance penetration was equivalent to 2.2 percent of GDP while insurance density was at about $211 per capita in 2012.
MEDGULF retained first place with $100.8m in non-life premiums, followed by AXA Middle East with $84.3 million, Bankers with $83.7 million, Libano-Suisse with $72.1 million and AROPE with $55 million as the top 5 non-life insurers.
Al-Bahria registered the highest jump in the rankings from last year among the 46 insurers operating in Lebanon, improving by four spots to the 28th place. It also posted the highest growth in premiums among all insurers in the survey at 92.7 percent year-on-year.
The premium figures were compiled by Al-Bayan magazine.
There were five advances and four declines among the rankings of the top 20 insurers, while the rankings of the other 11 insurers were unchanged.
The composition of the top 10 insurers changed slightly from 2011, with Arabia improving by one spot to 10th place and Assurex dropping from 10th to 11th place. Also, the rankings of two insurers changed among the top 10 firms, with AXA Middle East improving from third to second place and Bankers regressing from second to third place.
In addition, all of the top 10 insurers posted increases in their non-life premiums, including four insurers that posted a double-digit rise. Libano Suisse and AXA Middle East recorded the biggest year-on-year increases at 26.9 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively, among the top 10 insurers; while Libano Suisse’s non-life premiums also had the highest annual growth among the top 20 insurers.
The top 10 insurers controlled 64.6 percent of the market last year compared to 63.8 percent in 2011, 64.3 percent in 2010, 65 percent in 2009 and 64.4 percent in 2008; while the top 20 insurers represented 85.1 percent of premiums compared to 84.8 percent in 2011, 85.4 percent in 2010, 86 percent in 2009 and 85.3 percent in 2008.
The aggregate non-life premiums of the top 10 insurers reached $599.7 million in 2012 compared to $554.7 million in 2011, $519.8 million in 2010, $464.8 million in 2009 and $380.4 million in 2008.