#Saudi #insurers soar after decision to allow women to drive

Investors in Saudi Arabia are betting insurance stocks will be key beneficiaries from allowing women to drive. An index composed of 33 insurance stocks rose the most in three months. The Company for Cooperative Insurance, or Tawuniya, increased the most in seven months, other beneficiaries include Al Rajhi Takaful and Walla. The announcement to allow women to drive is one of the most dramatic moves in the government’s bid to open up society. Accroding to Jaap Meijer, head of research at Arqaam Capital, the number of cars in Saudi Arabia is likely to increase at least 20% in the next ten years as a result of the decision. He added that the increase is expected to be gradual. Net loss ratios on female drivers is likely to be lower than for men, as empirical evidence suggests that women are in fact safer drivers than men.

Islamic insurers need to focus on profitable lines

The overall profitability of Takaful industry is under strain largely because the industry has yet to break into some of the most profitable lines of business that are dominated by conventional payers, according to rating agency Standard & Poor’s.
“In our view, the takaful sector is underperforming, especially in the UAE, because it lacks the advantages of conventional insurers, which are often larger and benefit from better economies of scale. They have more-established distribution mechanisms and so their revenue generation is less dependent on intermediaries,” said Emir Mujkic, Associate Director, Finance Services of Standard & Poor’s.
The crowded UAE and other Gulf Cooperation Council insurance markets often suffer from overcapacity, which can often trigger aggressive price wars. “In our opinion, Islamic insurance companies require considerable capital investment to become established, yet relatively new companies often come under pressure to generate profits and deliver healthy returns to their investors,” said Mujkic.

Tawuniya selects Thomson Reuters investment operations platform

Thomson Reuters PORTIA was chosen by Tawuniya.
PORTIA will offer Tawuniya a global solution to manage, analyze and report on their broad, multi-currency investment portfolio, mitigating risk and improving investment operations.
Thomson Reuters global managing director of PORTIA Christy Bremner stated that as the Middle East insurance market continues to grow, firms will ask for automated solutions that are both Shariah-compliant and meet global accounting requirements.

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