Latin America's compound growth remains attractive and yet, overall, insurance penetration rates still remain low in lots of countries. Particularly in life insurance, despite continuing economic growth and reduced poverty levels, penetration is low, suggesting there is still significant growth ahead for that insurance sector. We have seen significant reforms across the region from both a fiscal and regulatory standpoint, in everything from capital and exchange controls to consumer protection. We believe a vital challenge for insurers over the next decade is navigating this rapid acceleration toward modern regulatory and operational realities.
Around the planet, regulators are setting the expectation that insurers will raise their game. The trend is clear, toward better risk management, better governance, more precise measurement of capital in a risk sensitive way and more detailed and transparent reporting to regulators.
We presented our first report for Latin America in 2012, concentrating on risk-based capital (RBC) and emerging regulations in four markets: Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. We have expanded our coverage as well as added Colombia, Peru and Uruguay to our new overview.
In the past two years, each Latin American market has faced another journey to a risk- and economic value-based solvency framework. More open markets within the Pacific Alliance (Chile and Mexico) have enhanced their risk management processes, while Brazil is seeking Solvency II equivalence by 2019. Mexico's new law, modeled on Solvency II, will probably be implemented ahead
from the remainder of the planet. Peru and Uruguay have no immediate plans to pursue a Solvency II approach. Although both countries are attracting foreign investment, the market size and number of players are impeding regulation. With Argentina's high inflation and economic concerns, adopting an RBC framework within the short term is unlikely.
The challenge to understanding Latin America remains that most insurers within the region are not well-prepared for the expected alterations in governance, risk management, capital requirements and reporting. At EY, we believe that effective risk management and the capability to quantify and price risks accurately really are a core competence for a successful insurance company. We also observe globally that the leading insurers will typically look to define their very own vision for their capabilities in these key areas, instead of simply following the iteration of each piece of regulation. Leading firms will even typically go onto deploy these capabilities faster and effectively across their businesses at the purpose of making decisions, and being ahead of competitors in this manner is really a source of clear commercial advantage.
The Argentine insurance market has made minimal progress in its approach to RBC in recent years. As other Latin American countries take steps toward Solvency II equivalence, Argentina is only superficially addressing this issue. In a country experiencing high inflation, tight regulation and fluctuating economic market concerns, RBC is just one inside a long list of initiatives on the regulatory agenda from the Superintendencia de Seguros de la Nación (SSN).
Nevertheless, insurance is a fast-growing industry that continues to exhibit resilience in premiums and tolerance for expansion in a challenging environment. Annual growth percentages are measured in Argentine pesos, so the inflation rate has a significant impact on those figures. As of 30 June 2019 (last fiscal year-end), there were 184 companies (108 in property/casualty) writing insurance in Argentina – with 29 new companies added within the past two years. International players continue to make acquisitions to enhance their positions within the industry. Growth has been most prominent in workers' compensation and motor insurance, producing increases of 42% and 35%, respectively, from June 2012 to June 2019.
The Brazilian insurance market continues to attain double-digit growth. The industry is witnessing a number of mergers and acquisitions and the arrival of multinational insurance and reinsurance companies, mostly from Europe. In addition, the sector experienced the biggest initial public offering in the world this past year, when BB Seguridade raised approximately US$5.75 billion in the BOVESPA stock exchange.
Although national bancassurance players dominate the Brazilian insurance market, international insurance companies continue to grow at a higher rate through M&A and strategic alliances.
Given the continuous growth in the market, the Brazilian regulator, Superintendência de Seguros Privados (SUSEP), is dealing with the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) to achieve Solvency ll equivalence in Brazil. This will facilitate the investment of European insurance companies in Brazil and Brazilian companies in Europe. SUSEP will sign an agreement that will adopt Solvency ll rules partially or fully by 2019, according to a comparative study that EIOPA will perform to measure Brazilian regulation against the Solvency II regime.
The insurance market in Chile continues to shift from its present regulatory framework to a more sophisticated RBC approach to solvency assessment that better reflects current industry risks. New methodology proposed by the Superintendencia de Valores y Seguros (SVS) is an important step toward building an integral and holistic RBC model.
The Comframe capital framework implementation requires each risk category to become managed individually, with most supervision on a product-by-product basis. Most insurers will need to improve their risk function or implement a holistic approach to risk management. Also, local skilled resources are scarce for that level of technical knowledge imposed by this regulation. Many will have to develop better data analytics, systems and precise risk measurement if they are to increase capital efficiency and profitability.
Chile is one of the more stable markets within the region, primarily because of tight controls over insurance products and asset portfolios. This stability is essential in a market that provides rich growth potential. While the ease of doing business within the country presents a chance, product expansion remains an emerging challenge due to deficiencies in insurance product awareness and consumer perceived value.
Colombia enjoys strong economic growth and enormous possibility of financial stability over the next three to five years. GDP growth is all about 4% a year, ahead of the average for the region. This is driven by stronger activity from foreign investors, a stable macroeconomic environment and a growing middle class. The free trade agreements that Colombia has engineered with major world markets are one example of the tremendous potential the country offers.
Insurance regulation is moving toward a more risk- and economic value-based solvency framework, with tightened capital market regulations. As a result, Colombia is ahead of many global rapid growth markets in reforming regulatory processes, protecting investor rights and cross-border trading to improve the ease of doing business for small companies.
Recent rules that allow foreign insurance companies to establish branches and operate as local insurers have changed the complexion of the Colombian market. Global industry players are entering, buying local insurers or considering start-up companies. This should encourage increased capacity, product diversification and greater competition. Colombia's premium growth was US$8b in 2019, and rate reductions of around 10% were expected for property and life/accident insurance in 2019.
The Mexican insurance market is the second largest in Latin America. As of December 2019, gross premiums totaled $334.19 billion Mexican pesos or approximately US$25.6 billion, a rise of 11% over the prior year; this increase includes the effect of a large biannual policy from the government. Despite having one from the lowest proportions of insurance penetration in the region (almost 2% of GDP), Mexico continues to grow above the country's nominal GDP. New insurance laws and Solvency II regulations are leading to promote consolidation, as well as growth in specialty and consumer product lines. The high demand for life insurance coverage is reflected in individual life premiums, which rose 23% in 2019, following a 19% increase in 2012, basically for the success of some savings products.
The regulatory framework in Mexico is evolving toward a more sophisticated risk-based capital approach. A proposed Solvency ll – type insurance law has been under review by the Mexican regulator, Comision Nacional de Seguros y Fianzas (CNSF) and the Mexican association of insurance companies, Asociacion Mexicana de Instituciones de Seguros (AMIS) because the second half of 2008.
The Mexican Congress approved the new regulation in April 2019. Quantitative impact studies and qualitative impact studies are moving forward, and new accounting principles are under discussion. Legislation within the country continues to advance and it is likely to be implemented ahead from the rest of the region.
Peru's steady economic growth and expanding middle class are attracting new business and opening doors for insurance companies. The Peruvian economy is supported by rapid growth in investment, low inflation, strong economic fundamentals as well as an annual GDP growth rate of nearly 6%. The country has an investment rating in Latin America that's second only to Chile and offers a favorable legal framework for foreign investors. The financial sector, including insurance, is second only to mining (gold, zinc and copper) in direct foreign investment.
In the last decade, insurance industry sales in Peru have grown more than 200%, from PEN2,700 million (approximately US$776 million) to PEN9.069 million (approximately US$3.36 billion) in 2019. As of December 2019, 40% of total net premiums were from general insurance, 14% from accident and health, 21% from life insurance and 25% from the private pension fund system. You should note that only approximately 16% from the urban population has private insurance and 18% has health insurance – and this number has stagnated over the past five years.
The insurance market is highly concentrated in Peru, with 2 from the 15 insurance companies accounting for 60% of total gross written premiums. Overall, insurance penetration rates remain low, because they are in many other Latin American countries.
Uruguay is a small country with stable economic growth, expanding tourism and rising disposable income. It was one from the few countries in Latin America that was able to avoid recession in 2008, and it continues to grow, with an economy based largely on exports of commodities like milk, beef, rice and wool. A number of world's largest banks and banking institutions maintain branches there, and it was fortunate to not experience the impact of the global financial crisis or ensuing government intervention.
Although the Uruguayan insurance market is highly competitive, it has no more than 15 companies competing for market share. The biggest in the country is Banco de Seguros del Estado (BSE), a government-owned insurer with about 65% of the market share as of December 2019.
Gross written premiums for that insurance industry totaled UYU21.6 billion (US$1.1 billion) in 2012, with a CAGR growth rate of almost 19%. Motor insurance and general liability insurance were leaders within the non-life segment. An increase in demand for pension products contributed to the significant growth within the life segment.
For the full report from which this excerpt is taken, click here.