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Announcement:

Moody's: Improving insurance regulation in GCC is credit positive but muted economic growth is a headwind

 The document has been translated in other languages

27 Feb 2018

DIFC - Dubai, February 27, 2018 -- Insurers in most Gulf Cooperation Council countries face moderate credit risk over the next 12 to 18 months, reflecting muted economic growth due to low range-bound oil prices and their relatively high exposure to volatile investment assets, says Moody's in a report published today.

The report, "Insurance - GCC: Improving regulation is credit positive but muted economic growth is a headwind," is now available on www.moodys.com. Moody's subscribers can access this report via the link at the end of this press release. The research is an update to the markets and does not constitute a rating action.

"Asset quality continues to be a key credit weakness for many insurers in the region," said Mohammed Londe, an Assistant Vice President at Moody's. "Low levels of GCC sovereign and corporate bond issuance have historically limited insurers' fixed income investment options, increasing their exposure to volatile equities and illiquid real estate investments, making their investment returns more volatile."

These factors are partly offset by anticipated strong premium growth, helped by the spread of compulsory medical cover and rising motor and property insurance prices in the region. Moody's also expects infrastructure spending, including events such as EXPO 2020 and 2022 World Cup, will support premium growth over the next five years.

Muted economic growth due to low range-bound oil prices has reduced the insurance growth potential as a result of lower personal income, affecting personal lines business, and reduced government spending, adversely affecting commercial lines. Growth in GCC premiums slowed to 3.3% in 2016 from 12.3% in 2015, and a similar relatively low 3.5% year-on-year growth rate is expected in 2017.

"We expect continued expansion of compulsory medical cover across the region, as well as rising motor and property insurance prices, to support premium growth for the next 12 - 18 months," adds Londe.

Improving insurance regulation, as reflected in the introduction of risk-based capital and actuarial reserving requirements, is a further positive for the sector, although many smaller insurers are struggling with rising regulatory compliance costs.

More comprehensive regulatory frameworks tend to improve insurers' profitability and capitalisation. Regulations are at different stages of development in each GCC country, but are converging towards risk-based capital requirements and actuarial reserving. While Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have some of the most developed regulatory measures in the region, UAE and Qatar have introduced new regulations and are currently in the implementation phase

Subscribers can access the report at http://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1113210

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information, please call one of our global press information hotlines: New York +1-212-553-0376, London +44-20-7772-5456, Tokyo +813-5408-4110, Hong Kong +852-3758-1350, Sydney +61-2-9270-8141, Mexico City 001-888-779-5833, São Paulo 0800-891-2518, or Buenos Aires 0800-666-3506. You can also email us at mediarelations@moodys.com or visit our web site at www.moodys.com.

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

Mohammed Ali Riyazuddin Londe
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Middle East Limited
Gate Precinct 3, Level 3
P.O. Box 506845
DIFC - Dubai
UAE
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Antonello Aquino
Associate Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Middle East Limited
Gate Precinct 3, Level 3
P.O. Box 506845
DIFC - Dubai
UAE
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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