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Romanian premiums grew by a third in 2006: Data


SINAIA, Romania—Romania's top 10 insurers reported that their gross written premiums rose 34.18% last year, to €1.3 billion, according to audited data released at this week's FIAR International Insurance/Reinsurance Forum.

That growth was due in large part to growth in insurers' motor business, according to the data.

Commercial lines insurance is growing but at a much slower rate, said Antonio Souvannasouck, managing director at Asigest Broker, an insurance brokerage firm in Bucharest.

While international companies in Romania seek out business insurance, domestic companies typically buy coverage only when required to as part of bank financing, Mr. Souvannasouck said.

For the country's three largest insurers in terms of gross written premiums — Allianz-Tiriac, a unit of Allianz S.E., ASIROM, and OMNIASIG, part of Vienna Insurance Group — commercial lines represented about 25% of their insurance portfolios, with automobile policies representing some 65% to 68% due to a boom in auto leasing, he said.

Overall, insurance penetration in Romania, calculated as the weight of the insurance field in gross domestic product, is about 1.7%, according to data compiled by Media XPRIMM, organizer of the FIAR event.

Insurers need to take steps to improve the awareness of the overall necessity of insurance "as a necessary tool in a modern society," said Christian Constantinescu, president of UNSAR - The National Association of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies in Romania, in a speech Tuesday.

"We talk a lot about the fact that the low penetration rate for insurance has deep rooted causes," he said, citing living standards and consumer mentality.

"Nobody can challenge this local reality, but I believe that the insurance industry has reached a point where those of us working in this field must start thinking about joint initiatives that can lead to improving the reputation of the insurance industry," he said.