Posted on Apr 15, 2011 by Sergio Ulloa
Last Saturday at the sixth Annual World Takaful Conference in Dubai, Ernst and Young predicted that the worldwide Takaful insurance market would reach a value of $12 billion USD in 2011; the prediction was announced in the Ernst and Young World Takaful Report 2011: Transforming Operating Performance,
and represents an increase of 31 percent from $9.15 billion in 2010. Takaful, an Islamic-compliant insurance concept, is a rapidly growing industry concentrated mainly in Saudi Arabia (making up $3.86 billion USD of the industry in 2009), Malaysia ($1.15 billion USD), UAE ($640 million USD), South East Asia, and North Africa.
In the past year, most GCC Takaful markets have slowed down. "The Takaful industry and its core markets have experienced another challenging year, where positive signs of economic recovery and improved business sentiment were shaken by the socio-political uncertainty witnessed across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region in the first quarter of 2011," said Ashar Nazim, an executive director and Islamic financial services leader at Ernst and Young.
Despite the slowdown in the sector, global growth estimates are predicted to remain on track to reach $12 billion in 2011. "The industry's not without risk, but its potential remains an important feature of Muslim emerging markets for many indigenous and global insurance players," said Nazim. He goes on to add, "the (Gulf Arab region) is a competitive market with a large number of players and will drive growth for the industry½ Key Takaful markets are characterized by low insurance penetration rates and comparatively high rates of economic growth."
Other key challenges for the growth of Takaful insurance products include a lack of expertise and the ongoing socio-political instability across much of North Africa and the Middle East. Ernst and Young also said that changing regulations and misaligned cost base also hinder the growth of the market.
The Saudi Takaful market, however, proves to be an exception to the global slowdown in the Islamic insurance market. RNCOS, a research and analytical consultancy, recently released its industry report, which said that, "We have found that Saudi Arabia has emerged as the largest market for Takaful insurance, followed by Malaysia. Takaful insurance is growing at an annual growth rate of 15-20 percent globally, but it will grow at faster rate in Saudi Arabia because premium paid by the insured people is considered as donation and not premium." In addition, with the recent mandate of compulsory health insurance for private employees, the health insurance market is expected to grow at an even faster pace.
The report forecasts that the general insurance category of Takaful products will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 24 percent from 2010 to 2012, due to increasing demand for motor and energy insurance. Property and aviation insurance policies are also expected to emerge as fast growing segments of the general insurance sector.
Similar to Saudi Arabia, other Gulf States' insurance industries have also experienced a boost, in part due to compulsory health insurance for foreign employees, and a push towards private health insurance. The Kuwait National Healthcare system is currently pushing for a new private health insurance scheme
in order to meet overcrowding, long waiting times, and a general growing dissatisfaction with the public health sector.
Bahrain National Holding (BNH) is also growing
despite the political turmoil occurring in the country. In its annual shareholder meeting on March 29th
, 2011, BNH announced that it remains adamant about continuing with plans on expanding its services throughout the Gulf region.
Sudan, which contributes $340 million USD to the Takaful insurance industry, is currently the largest market outside the Gulf region. However, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan's Takaful industries are all growing quite rapidly.
In fact, Egypt could even stand to benefit from the ongoing regional instability. The UAE-based Salama Islamic Arab Insurance's chief executive stated that turmoil in the Egyptian market has not only resulted in more claims, but has also generated more interest and awareness of Takaful insurance, which creates more demand and unprecedented opportunities for the market.
Regionally, the Indian subcontinent's Takaful contributions have increased by 85 percent, making it the fastest growing Takaful market in the world. The next fastest growing market is the Middle East, which has grown by 40 percent, followed by the GCC (31 percent), South East Asia (29 percent), and Africa (26 percent).
In terms of individual countries, Indonesia had the largest Takaful market growth rate with 67 percent. It is followed by Bangladesh with 58 percent and Saudi Arabia with 34 percent.
The overall Malaysian insurance industry is also growing at a rapid pace
with 12 percent projected growth in 2011. The Malaysian Takaful Association attributes this predicted growth to the expansion of the Takaful industry into rural areas of the country. There is a large interest in Takaful products. With only a 10 percent market penetration, there is much room for improvement and growth.
Generally, the Takaful industry receives a lower return on equity (RoE) because of the intense competition that small local insurers encounter from more established firms who have had experience in the conventional insurance market.
For the GCC, conventional insurers received an average RoE of 11 percent, while the Takaful insurers announced an average of 10 percent in 2010.
In Malaysia, the disparity is even greater with an average RoE of 16 percent for conventional insurers and 6 percent for Takaful companies. This difference, however, may arise from a significantly lower claim ratio than the GCC, mostly because of differences in business lines.
Also, in the GCC, the Takaful market is dominated by general insurance, while in Malaysia it is dominated by family Takaful. In the Mena region, the family Takaful market is still underpenetrated, contributing to only 5 percent of gross global annuals premiums, while conventional life insurance contributed to 58 percent. In comparison, in Malaysia, the family Takaful industry contributed to 77 percent of gross annual premiums in 2010.
Insurance Companies Mentioned
Bahrain National Holding
BNH, established in 1998, is based in Manama, Bahrain. Together with its many subsidiaries, BNH provides insurance and risk management solutions for many industries and individuals in the Gulf region.