RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s insurance sector recorded a 31.9 percent increase in its total gross written premiums to SR13 billion ($3.46 billion) in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year, according to a recent report released by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA.
Gross written premiums are the total premiums an insurer writes during a specific period before deductions for expenses such as ceding and commissions, and its rise signifies an overall development of the sector.
SAMA’s Quarterly Insurance Sector Report revealed that the health sector’s GWP, which makes up 58.2 percent of the Kingdom’s overall GWP, rose by 26.5 percent in the third quarter to hit SR7.6 billion compared to the corresponding period of 2021.
Jarmo Kotilaine, an economist and strategist, focusing on the Gulf region, told Arab News that the increase in the Kingdom’s overall GWP is not necessarily linked to the financial performance of individual companies.
“Obviously, the companies have benefited from the more benign economic environment and the reduction in risks post-COVID. But the sector is diverse and still quite fragmented. The performance of individual companies varies. This is part of the reason why SAMA has been pushing for consolidation for a long time,” said Kotilaine.
According to Mohamed Ramady, a London-based economist and former professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, the Saudi insurance sector has turned the corner following the COVID pandemic slowdown.
“The rise in gross written premiums in Q3 2022 indicates that the private and government sector are now more encouraged to take on new business and insure risks, and individuals are also increasing their personal health insurance schemes, with more companies insuring employees in line with government regulations to do so.”
Moreover, the GWP of motor insurance also rose 30.1 percent in the third quarter to SR2.5 billion compared to SR1.9 billion in the same period last year. Motor insurance makes up 19.4 percent of Saudi Arabia’s overall GWP.
Other general insurance GWP, which constitutes 18.8 percent of the Kingdom’s total GWP, rose 56.5 percent in the third quarter to SR2.4 billion, compared to the same period in 2021.
Kotilaine added: “Interestingly, there does seem to be some evidence of product diversification as well. The category of “Other General Insurance” expanded by 56.5 percent year-on-year. While it is still relatively small in aggregate terms, it has somewhat reduced the traditional dominance of health insurance and other policy-driven policies.”
SAMA report further stated that protection and savings insurance GWP, which amounted to 3.6 percent of the aggregate, saw a 26.5 percent rise year-on-year reaching SR474 million in the third quarter.
Talking about the insurance sector in Saudi Arabia, Kotilaine noted that the market is heavily dependent on policy-driven compulsory insurance.
“The market, despite significant development, remains heavily dependent on policy-driven / compulsory insurance, whether health or motor vehicle. Other segments are still relatively small,” he said.
Despite improving numbers, Kotilaine noted that key metrics of the Saudi insurance sector — notably insurance penetration and density — remain low in global comparison. “The sector is fragmented. Continuing to encourage consolidation will boost productivity and likely accelerate the sector development toward the strategic objectives of the authorities.”
Ramady noted that the Saudi insurance sector will be faced with challenges in insuring large-ticket government projects and there will be “a need for consolidation in the sector to ensure higher capital adequacy to take on larger insurance risk, something that offshore insurance companies have been doing in the Saudi market.”