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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

$163bn global insurance gap identified

A global insurance protection gap of $163bn (£126bn) threatens the livelihoods of millions of people across the world, with poorer countries some of the most at risk.

Tsunami underlines the important role insurance can play ©iStock
Tsunami underlines the important role insurance can play ©iStock

That is the latest warning from Lloyd’s of London, which found that around $160bn of assets in emerging economies remain underinsured – accounting for 96% of the total global insurance gap.

Despite being among the most exposed to climate change, countries including India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria and the Philippines all have insurance penetration rates of less than 1%.

China has the largest gap at $76bn, largely thanks to the size of its economy and a relatively infant insurance market, followed by India on $27bn and Indonesia on $14.6bn.

This comes after a recent tsunami claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people in Indonesia, with Lloyd’s estimating global economic losses of $165bn from natural disasters this year.

“Insurance is a major contributor to disaster recovery, often providing the quickest crisis relief available,” Lloyd’s chairman, Bruce Carnegie-Brown, said. 

“The terrible earthquake and tsunami disaster on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi underlines the important role insurance can play by increasing financial liquidity in catastrophe affected areas.”

Lloyd’s previously estimated that there were $168bn in assets underinsured worldwide back in 2012, meaning that the insurance gap has closed by less than 3% in six years.

Bangladesh is currently the most underinsured country relative to GDP at 2.1%, and also has the highest expected annual losses from natural disasters.

This is despite studies by the OECD and the UK Government Office for Science indicating that the benefits of greater resilience investment outweigh the costs fourfold.

The Centre for Global Protection has since outlined how insurance-linked loan packages, resilience bonds, resilience impact bonds, and resilience service companies could help boost investment.

Lloyd’s Risk Management Solutions global managing director, Daniel Stander, said: “The objective is to reduce initial costs of building resiliently and to finance the residual risk.

“In this way the benefits of insurance can be enjoyed by those who need it most.” 

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