Bulgaria's insurance sector is underdeveloped by virtually all metrics. It will remain so through the 2013-18 forecast period. Most of the challenges that confront insurance companies in poorer countries of Central and Eastern Europe are present. These include significant numbers of people who are too poor to afford insurance solutions (be they property/casualty covers or long-term savings solutions. For many of the insurance companies that are present though, profitability should rise: ongoing consolidation should provide greater economies of scale and, perhaps, pricing power.
BMI's new insurance report format provides forecasts of the life and non-life markets, including gross and net premiums, reinsurance premiums and assets. Moreover, it provides forecasts for key growth drivers such as vehicle fleet size, demographic factors and private health expenditure. The report also contains a comprehensive breakdown of the non-life insurance market, providing forecasts for motor and transport insurance, property, personal accident, health, general liability and credit insurance. Finally, the new report offers a detailed breakdown of the life and non-life competitive landscapes, covering the top companies present in each segment by premiums and market share.
As of early 2014, the latest statistics from the Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) and comments from leading companies active in Bulgaria indicate that the insurance sector is, and will remain, underdeveloped through the forecast period. Motor related premiums, which account for nearly three-quarters of the non-life segment, have been constrained by the general softness of the economy (and, we suspect, competition in what is a fragmented market place). Fire and property cover accounts for about one-fifth of the premiums in the non-life segment.
Life insurance continues to develop - if from a low base. At a little over US$20 per capita, density is at a level which indicates that many households are too poor (and/or lack the understanding of the benefits) to use the offerings of life insurers in organised savings.
Over the last two years or so, several of the leading players have taken steps to boost profitability. KBC moved to full control of DZI so that the Belgian group could extend its proven bancassurance business model to Bulgaria. VIG has merged two subsidiaries in the country - Bulstrad and Bulgarski Imoti - in order to realise synergy benefits. The very dominant position of multi-nationals in both major segments of Bulgaria's insurance sector should be considered a major strength.
Key BMI Forecasts
- In 2014, total premiums should fall by 4.4% to US$1.0bn.
- Life premiums should slip by 6.9% to US$0.2bn.
- Non Life premiums will likely fall by 4.0% to US$0.9bn.
- This will be driven by a 4.7% drop in motor vehicle insurance premiums to US$0.6bn.Property insurance premiums will drop by 3.1% to US$0.2bn.