Seeking Growth Opportunities? Follow The Numbers

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15 November 2011
Juan Mazzini

In my previous post: "Latin American Markets Are Hot for a Reason", we discussed about the significant growth of this region compared to industrialized countries and how GDP of emerging markets was expected to match their industrialize counterparts 10 years from now. For those joining just now, growth expected for the Latin American region in 2011 is 4.5%; the world rate will be 3.2%; and in industrialized countries, growth will only be 1.4%. The trend since 2002 has been more growth from emerging markets than industrialized countries and we expect this to continue this way for the next 10 years.

Has the Insurance Industry in Latin America gained any benefit from this growth?

Equally to the economic growth trends described before, Life insurance in Latin America has been experiencing an average premium growth rate of 8% for the period 2000-2009 while non-life insurance premiums have grown an average of 6.5% in the same time. North America instead has been very steady in the life insurance market and only in non-life has experienced some growth at an average of almost 2.5%. Europe has not done much better with just over 3% increase in premiums in non-life and almost hitting 3% increase in life insurance in the same period.

Last year, Latin American life insurance market experienced a 12% growth in premiums with Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Peru as main contributors and expecting to maintain double digits growth rates next year although some challenges remain. Also as a consequence of the good economic performance of the region, non-life insurance premiums increased 5.5% and we continue to expect growth driven by investments mainly in infrastructure and energy in the short and medium term.

On the other hand and considering 2010 figures, North America and Western Europe count for 60% of the world market share of life insurance and 72% of non-life, Latin American and Caribbean life insurance market represented only a world market share of 2.2% and non-life 4.0%.

So, evidently the opportunity is not in the current size of the market. Where to find it?

I believe that insurers are seizing opportunities of a market that will continue to grow and that has the potential to drive premium to similar ratios than the ones found in industrialized countries.

Consider for example the insurance penetration ratio (premiums as % of GDP). In 2010 Latin American insurance penetration ratio was 2.7% very low compared to 7.9% for North America; 8.4% for Western Europe or even Asia with 6.2%. Emerging markets have a ratio of 3% and industrialized countries 8.6%. The world in average has a ratio of 6.9%.

As for insurance density (premium per capita) in 2010, Latin America shows a low ratio of 219.1 USD per capita when compared with 3724.4 for North America´s; 2890.3 for Western Europe or even Asia with 281.5. The world in average has a ratio of 627.3.

The insurance industry clearly understands the unique opportunities this ratios bring into their business. That is why we have more insurers looking into build or grow capacities in Latin America. What to expect?Looking in the future we should expect a very positive trend overall. Many things have changed in a positive way in the region and those companies taking advantage of it, will be able to produce extraordinary benefits and value for shareholders and stakeholders.

Technology will play a very important role for insurers competing in this market. There is a need to replace legacy systems and continue to incorporate best practices. Rules based underwriting, Straight Through Processing, standardized xml for data interchange, cloud computing, BPO and improved CRM techniques just to mention some. I hope to have some new reports on this subject soon for you, in the mean time I am available for some one-to-one consulting on Latin American issues.

To anyone who is considering doing business in Latin America just have in mind that although the region presents significant and unique perspectives of growth it comes along with some challenges. You should expect some countries to react defensively at the sight of the international crisis. Some protectionism should be also expected along with setbacks for commerce and investment. Companies will need to consider these in their plans and have a management team, processes and technology to overcome them.

Also bear in mind that although Latin America is always seen as a region it has its significant differences between countries not just cultural but social, economic and political as well.

We at Celent can now help you to navigate through the Latin American experience.


Insight details

Insight Format
Geographic Focus
Asia-Pacific, EMEA, LATAM, North America