Sunday 19, March 2017 by Georgina Enzer

S&P: Growth set to continue across Gulf insurance markets

S&P Global Ratings said that the Gulf States have started to look much more critically at their expenditures (Despite Economic Pressures, Growth Is Set To Continue Across Largest Gulf Insurance Markets).

When oil prices were at their peak, revenues from hydrocarbon products enabled governments in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region to generate fiscal surpluses while spending heavily on infrastructure development. Oil prices were above $100 per barrel for significant parts of 2011-2014, supporting this government spending and creating insurable activity that benefited both insurers and reinsurers.

However, prices peaked in June 2014 and the picture has since changed markedly. S&P now forecasts that Brent crude oil prices will average $50 per barrel in 2017 and 2018, and $55 per barrel in 2019 and beyond. Most regional governments have taken steps to defer nonessential infrastructure spending and, where possible, to shift the burden of funding services such as health care to the private insurance sector and away from government. Some authorities are also now pushing to address uninsured motorists and private sector employers, who are evading their obligation to take out compulsory cover for liability and group health risks. Despite budgetary pressures, insurable activity remains considerable as selected infrastructure projects continue, particularly in Qatar. Finally, to varying degrees, insurance supervisors are leading initiatives to adopt more economically justifiable, risk-based pricing, leading in practice to premium increases on most lines of business.

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