Economic slowdown taking toll on Chile insurance sector

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The head of Chilean insurance association AACh said the sector will experience a slowdown this year.

José Manuel Camposano, speaking at the AACh 2017 annual dinner, said the sector is not immune from what is going on in the wider economy.

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"In the region we are the country with the highest premium per capita and, based on international rankings, the Chilean insurance market has the highest penetration and density in Latin America."

"[But] what's happening in the country is affecting us. The correlation between [the sector's] and the country's growth rates is becoming clear in our industry," said Camposano.

In 2016, GDP expanded 1.60%, its slowest pace since 2009, according to data from the country's central bank. The IMF forecasts that Chile's economy will expand 1.7% this year and 2.3% in 2018, roughly in line with the median projection in the central bank's latest forecast survey, of 1.6% and 2.5%, respectively.

Insurance sector growth decelerated to 9% in 2016 after experiencing a double-digit expansion in 2015.

For this year, AACh expects overall sector growth of only 1%, with the P&C segment forecast to expand 1.6% and the life segment 0.7%.

At the dinner, held on Tuesday in capital Santiago, he urged the government of President Michelle Bachelet and the next administration – due to take office in March – to sharpen their focus on measures to stimulate the economy. He also said it is "necessary to trust once again in the capacity of the private sector."

OPPORTUNITIES

During his speech, which also covered areas such as pension reform and the country's infrastructure deficit, he said the issue of uninsured public buildings needed addressing.

He said buildings such as schools and hospitals had no protection in the event of a catastrophe such as an earthquake.

Camposano said: "We propose to launch a working group to facilitate cooperation between the insurance industry and the state and devise, for public infrastructure, a state policy, like other countries have."

SECTOR PROFITS

Chilean insurers posted total net income of US$736mn in 2016, up 11.8%, according to the local securities and insurance regulator SVS.

KEY DATA

- The insurance sector accounts for 5% of GDP

- 63mn active insurance policies in Chile, a country of 17-18mn people

- The average amount each Chilean spends annually on insurance is 445,000 pesos (US$666), double the amount registered 10 years ago.

- 67 companies active. None of them has a market share greater than 10%.

- 21.5mn claim payouts in 2016, with one complaint registered for every 3,200 payouts.

Pictured: AACh president José Manuel Camposano