The majority of executives polled in the recently published 2016 Mena Insurance Barometer continue to believe that premium growth will outpace GDP growth.

The MENA Insurance Barometer is an annual survey based on in-depth interviews. In 2016, senior executives of 36 regional and international re/insurance companies, intermediaries and trade associations operating in the MENA region were interviewed.

The 2016 edition shows that between 2009 and 2014 the region’s total non-life and life insurance premium volume expanded from about US$ 32bn to more than US$ 51bn.

Growth is driven by the low insurance penetration in the region, with premiums accounting for just 1.5% of GDP in 2014, less than a quarter of the global average.

However, as the region’s governments introduce compulsory insurance schemes in motor and healthcare, the survey said the gap is slowly narrowing: From 2009 to 2014 MENA insurance markets have expanded more than twice as fast as the region’s economies.

The Mena Insurance Barometer added that slowing economic growth and continued geopolitical instability weigh on executive sentiment in the MENA insurance markets.

However, the industry is believed to remain resilient, with 61% of executives polled expecting regional premiums to outgrow GDP. Survey participants continue to be particularly bullish about personal lines business which benefits from additional compulsory insurance requirements as well as corrective pricing and reserving measures.

According to the survey, 36% – up from 19% – of respondents anticipate MENA insurance markets to consolidate over the next 12 months. Some international and domestic insurers are exiting the market as a result of severe underwriting losses and unsustainable pricing.

Yousef Mohamed Al-Jaida, CEO of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), said: "On the back of the sector’s above-average growth performance, insurance is set to further increase its share in MENA economies. This is the main finding of the most recent edition of the MENA Insurance Barometer, which we have been publishing since 2013."

Al-Jaida added: "A greater role of insurance in absorbing and transferring risk is a welcome development. It generally goes hand in hand with more risk-conscious behaviour of individuals and companies as well as deeper and broader domestic capital markets."