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RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazil represents big potential growth for the insurance industry because of its booming economy, growing middle class and large population, leading Brazilian insurance executives said Monday.
And the domestic insurance industry, including 60,000 insurance brokers, is well-developed and will continue to play a major role in developing the industry, they said.
Foreign insurers have entered the market since insurance reforms were introduced during the past several years, said Patrick de Larragoiti Lucas, chairman of SulAmérica Seguros e Previdência in Rio de Janeiro.
“But domestic companies in Brazil still account for 62% of the insurance market,” he said, speaking through an interpreter during a panel session at the International Insurance Society Seminar in Rio de Janeiro.
Over the past eight years, the Brazilian property/casualty and life insurance market has been growing at a rate of 12% a year, but it still represents only 3.5% of gross domestic product, Mr. Larragoiti Lucas said, which is less than half the proportion of GDP in many developed nations.
The potential for growth is bright as the energy sector grows and the country begins major infrastructure projects associated with hosting the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics, several speakers at the seminar noted.
In addition, the expanding middle class likely will play a major role in the expansion of Brazil's insurance market, said Marco Antonio Rossi, CEO of Bradesco Vida e Previdência in Osasco, Brazil.
“Brazil will be predominantly a middle-class country.…In 2011, 55% of the population was considered middle class,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.
While there are big opportunities for insurers in Brazil, there also are barriers to growth, Mr. Larragoiti Lucas of SulAmérica said. For example, 3.4 million new cars were sold in Brazil in 2011 and 94% of the vehicles were insured, but consumers often let insurance lapse as cars age, he said.
As a result, only 30% of the total auto fleet in Brazil is covered by insurance, added Mr. Rossi of Bradesco.
In addition, only 10% of Brazilian homes are insured against property damage, he noted.
RIO DE JANIERO—Insurers expanding into new markets should be aware of the often significant differences between the countries they are moving into and not treat them as generic emerging markets, said Denis Kessler, chairman and CEO of Paris-based SCOR S.E.