Insurance Industry in Costa Rica

Fitch Rating's Special Report: "Insurance Industry Costa Rica: End of the State's Monopoly"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Costa Rica's insurance industry had been dominated by a state-owned monopoly until the new Insurance Law of 2008; up to December 2008 it is the largest and fastest growing market in Central America (excluding Panama). Total premiums by the end of 2008 summed $611.5 million, with the region's largest year-on-year growth (19.4%). However, market penetration is still very low: 2.2% of the GDP in December 2008, less than the region's average of 3%.

The administration index puts Costa Rica slightly ahead of the region, with 91% vs 87%. From Fitch's point of view, some of the highlights of the national insurance industry in 2008 were low operational costs and moderate accident rates (27% and 56% of earned premiums). This was mainly due to relatively high prices (there was no competition), and good performance in auto insurance, both compulsory and voluntary, which represent 37% of the total portfolio, while their accident rate is only 41% of earned premiums.

More on this topic

Insurance in Central America: 2015 Outlook

January 2015

Fitch Ratings expects moderate growth in premiums in Costa Rica, increased interest in personal insurance in Guatemala, and stable performance in Nicaragua and Honduras.

From the report "Outlook 2015: Central American Insurance Sector":

Costa Rica:

Moderate growth in premiums

Insurance: First Half 2009 and Outlook for 2010

January 2010

Fitch Central America published a special report called "Central American Insurance Sector: Performance in the First Half of 2009 and Outlook for 2010".

Despite the economic contraction of Central American economies in the first half of 2009, the region's insurance industry grew 3% (excluding Panama) when compared to the same period of 2008, reaching $928.1 million in net premiums.

Guatemala: Insurance Industry Keeps Deteriorating

September 2009

"For the sector's improvement, it will be key to adjust fees for products with high accident rates, as well as more careful subscription"

By the end of June 2009, net premiums had grown at an inflation adjusted rate of 9.8%, although lower growth should be expected for the end of the year, due to worse economic performance.

Central American Banks: Biannual Results and Perspectives

August 2008

In Fitch's opinion (in the Special Report), the complex economic environment in the region is starting to have an effect on the performance of the banks in Central America.

"Results for the first half of 2008 indicate that the slump in the economy and the increase in inflation have weakened the quality of bank assets," indicated the report.

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