The annual survey by Al Bayan magazine of the insurance sector in Lebanon showed that total non-life premiums reached $315.45 million in 2000 compared to $311.3 million in 1999, constituting a 1.34 percent year-on-year rise and reflecting the lowest growth rate in premiums over several years.
The magazine stated that the problems faced by some insurers last year led to the flight of their portfolios to other competitors. According to the survey, this sudden and massive transfer of premiums helped the recipient insurers solidify their position in the market. In particular, firms that deal heavily with health insurance were the main beneficiaries.
It added that high expense and loss ratios as well as tax evasion by some insurers combined to reduce the sector’s growth and revenues. Medgulf maintained its first place with $34.25 million in non-life premiums. It was followed by Bankers ($30.06 million); Axa Middle East, formerly Societe Libano-Francaise, ($22.26 million); Societe Nationale d’Assurances ($18.97 million); and Libano-Suisse ($17.22 million) as the top 5 non-life insurers. Leaders registered the highest jump from last year, moving from 55th to 33rd place with a 230 percent rise in premiums to $2.35 million. Seven of the top 10 insurers posted increases in their premiums, with Axa Middle East and Medgulf recording the biggest year-on-year rise at 19.54 percent and 18.53 percent respectively. SNA,Libano-Suisse, and Libano-Arabe registered declines in premiums of 4.91 percent, 9.12 percent and 10.4 percent respectively.
The top 10 non-life insurers controlled 59 percent of the market last year compared to 48 percent in 1999 and 49 percent in 1998. Their aggregate premiums reached $185.95 million compared to $148 million in 1999 and $144 million for 1998.
The sector saw two mergers last year with International merging with La Phenicienne and Centrale merging with Sonar. Two previously announced mergers were completed with Iskan joining forces with Fidelity and Trust International merging with Compass. In other developments, Express transferred its portfolio to Bankers, General Fire & Marine is in the process of merging with United Commercial Assurances, and Oriental had its license revoked. — ( Lebanon Invest )
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)