Worldwide: Global Growth: Entering New Insurance Markets

As insurers/reinsurers start to look beyond their domestic, often mature, markets for growth opportunities they face an almost overwhelming choice in terms of which markets to consider, the structures available and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

If you are looking to set up a new insurance underwriting business, location is a critical issue – not just where you want to be doing business, but also the speed of set up and the regulatory environment in which you will operate.

There is no doubt that London (of which the Lloyd's market is a major component) is one of the most pre-eminent insurance centres in the world, with around 15% of global industrial risks being placed there. Over the last five years a steady stream of foreign insurers – from both mature markets such as the US and Japan, as well as emerging economies such as China - have, either through acquisition, start-up or joint venture, established themselves in this insurance hub. But a range of other jurisdictions are making themselves attractive for start-ups; such as Zurich and Gibraltar, and increasingly Singapore for South East Asia.

An insurer/reinsurer looking to establish themselves needs to consider a number of different issues when looking at various locations – the time taken to obtain authorisation, capital requirements and the ability to do business around the world. For example the main advantage of Gibraltar or Malta is the speed of set-up. From the decision to apply for a licence to it being granted is typically between three and six months, whereas in the United Kingdom it would take that long just for the regulator to consider the application.

Over the last 20 years, Bermuda has proved to be a popular domicile – particularly for reinsurance businesses. The island's ability to respond to capacity shortages through the rapid creation of new carriers has been demonstrated time and time again. It combines rapid regulatory approval, an attractive tax environment and a geographic position that is convenient for both the US and Europe. Singapore too has made clear its ambitions to be a regional insurance hub and has taken steps to position itself as the market of choice in South East Asia.

This Report aims to offer a high level review – by region – of the opportunities and challenges available to an insurer/ reinsurer. We hope that you find this Report useful as part of your international underwriting strategy. If you have any follow up questions or would like to get in touch with a member of our Global Corporate Insurance Group then please do contact us.

Kind regards

Andrew Holderness



Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB).

Key market facts

  • The Bahrain market (all classes) is ranked at 82 in the world in terms of gross premium size and the Bahrain non-life market is ranked at 84

General information

  • Population 1,346,613 (July 2015 est.)
  • Population growth rate 2.41% (2015 est.)
  • Median age 31.8 years
  • GDP real growth rate 4.5% (2014 est.)


  • Following a consultation process, the CBB decided not to pursue the proposal to permit the establishment of composite companies, subject to certain provisos. The position therefore remains that an insurance company cannot transact short-term (general) insurance business and long-term insurance business at the same time, except in the case of captive insurers or pure reinsurers, or takaful companies, which may transact general and family takaful business within the same company
  • There are strict fund separation rules, however, and takaful general and family funds have to be managed as though they were two separate licensed companies

Regulatory capital requirements

  • The insurance rulebook incorporates regulations for the calculation of solvency and capital requirements.
  • Branch – reduced capital requirements apply depending on the type of insurance business


  • The Commercial Companies Law 21/2001 requires commercial registration with the Ministry of Commerce prior to applying for an insurance licence from CBB
  • Public joint stock companies must be 51% owned by Bahraini nationals under the Commercial Companies law. Holding company structures are permitted, although the CBB does not supervise holding companies but instead the insurance companies owned by holding companies


Bahraini closed joint stock companies can be 100% owned by a foreign entity under the terms of the Commercial Companies Law 2001.


  • There are no taxes, other than corporation tax levied on oil companies and social security payable by individuals
  • The Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance is funded by a levy on the annual payrolls of banks and insurance companies in Bahrain
  • Bahrain has no taxes on personal or corporate income, sales, capital gains, estates, interest, dividends or fees but stamp duty is payable on property transfers



Insurance Division of the Financial Industry Department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).

Key market facts

  • Remains a relatively underdeveloped market, with a small number of insurers
  • GWP of USD 52.98 Million in 2014, approximately a 27% growth from 2013
  • The insurance market in Cambodia is driven primarily by income from one-off projects, rather than annually renewable businesses
  • Insurance penetration into the Cambodian population, both for personal and commercial line, has been minimal
  • Life insurance business only started in Cambodia in 2012

General information

  • Population 15,708,756 (July 2015 est.)
  • Population growth rate 1.58% (2015 est.)
  • Median age 24.5 years
  • GDP real growth rate 7% (2014 est.)


Insurers must be licenced by the MEF.

Regulatory capital requirements

  • Minimum Capital Requirement equal to USD 7 million for life or general insurance companies.
  • 10% of registered capital is deposited with the National Treasury
  • Minimum solvency margin of 50% of the registered capital during the first year of operation and thereafter adjusted based on annual net premiums


  • Locally incorporated risk carriers only. Branch offices of foreign insurers are not permitted to conduct insurance business


  • 100% foreign ownership is permitted

Recent changes

Insurance Law No NS/RKM/0814/021 became effective on 4th February 2015 to replace the previous 2000 law.

Other facts

  • Cambodia has a young population, with 96% of its approximately 15.7 million inhabitants being under the age of 65 years
  • The economy of Cambodia is highly dollarised and the vast majority of transactions are conducted in USD. Fees and taxes are required to be paid in KHR
  • Compulsory cession of 20% of each risk to Cambodia Re

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