The Tunisian Insurance Market after the Revolution

Insurance was introduced in Tunisia at the end of the 19th century by the French regime and up to the time of independence, the Tunisian insurance market was dominated by foreign companies. However, at independence, Tunisia made a legislative effort by laying down the regulatory framework to better integrate insurance into the economic and social life. Thus, Société tunisienne d’assurance et de réassurance (STAR) was set up in 1958 with the direct participation of the State as part of the plan to revitalize the sector. Subsequently, several private Tunisian companies were established in the 1960s and 1970s which took over the portfolios of foreign companies. On 25 March 1981, the first national professional reinsurer in Tunisia - Tunis Re – saw the light of day.

At present, the Tunisian insurance market has 23 domestic companies and 4 off-shore companies. Twenty of the domestic companies are limited liability companies and three are mutual companies. The written premium in 2014 stood at 1,527.4 million Tunisian dirham, representing an 8% growth, compared to 2013. When compared with the other countries of the MENA region, Tunisia is 4th and 2nd in the Maghreb, after Morocco (3%) and ahead of Algeria which has a penetration of 0.8%. Premium per capita increased from 98.3 dinars in 2009 to 139.1 dinars in 2014 (US$73.2), representing an average annual increase of 7.2% over the period (2009-2014).

In contrast to the experience in the developed countries where life assurance and annuity constitute a significant proportion of market premium income (more than 50%), life insurance is still low in Tunisia, representing about 15 % of market production.

The response to the events, resulting from the revolution which Tunisia faced in 2011 clearly demonstrated the commitment, support and understanding of all the stakeholders, especially the officials of the insurance institutions in Tunisia, who had to work together to meet the exigencies of the economic recovery of the country in a post-revolution context. The damage caused during the revolution affected several insured industrial and business units. The insurance market has been able to cope with the difficult situations in the last few years after the crisis and has indeed shown positive signs of redressing the catastrophic situation of the 2011 claims experience. The market share of life insurance was less than 9.8 % in 2006 and has been improving ever since, reaching 15 % in 2012, 15.6% in 2013 and 17% in 2014.

There are clearly favourable conditions for the insurance market in Tunisia to move on to the next level of growth. Indeed, the achievements recorded so far- a reformed legal framework, simplified and streamlined taxation, a special accounting regime- constitute an enabling environment that can promote and reinforce new reform actions.

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