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Insurance in the CIS: Reality strikes back!

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It is known, that the CIS markets may be highly profitable, yet highly risky.

But in the long-run the low rates often indicate that the insurer is experiencing solvency problems.
The recent crisis shook the global insurance industry and proved especially disastrous for the CIS countries. The reasons were simple: while European companies are used to insurance being an additional protection of their business, the post-soviet world still thinks an insurance policy to be only another document for a successful mortgage. As crisis spread through the banking system, the traditional sales methods were severed, causing a great number of CIS insurers forfeit their agreements and declare bankruptcy. Altogether it received a highly negative response on the client's market causing the latter to doubt the efficiency of insurance. As the insurers were one by one loosing their share of the market, additional struggles were made to crush the weakened competitors. As a result, the rates plunged down.

In 2010 only the Russian market showed a growth of 8,7% reaching over $30 bln. in premiums. All other countries were stagnating. Although the official reports may as well boast a different picture which arises mainly from fictitious insurance and laundering. For example, the Ukrainian insurance market consist of over 400 insurers, while 20 of them hold over 75% of the market. And remind you, the post-soviet insurance markets' opportunities may best be described as "modest".

Under these conditions any businessman operating on the territory of the ex-USSR may be advised to exercise an extremely conservative approach to insurance partners. It wouldn't be unwise to stick to representatives of well-established international insurance groups like Allianz, AXA and Chartis while trying to avoid insurers with local capital and ownership. In the short term, insurance companies owned by large local enterprises may look like a perfect idea, since they often seem to combine low rates and client-oriented approach. But in the long-run the low rates often indicate that the insurer is experiencing solvency problems. From our own experience, last year's fire caused our client a massive loss of insured goods. He recently received $8mln worth of reimbursement from an international insurance group making it one of the largest insurance claims of 2010.

Feb 28, 2011.

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