The region, which has a total insurance penetration below 10 percent, is expected to witness rapid growth in near future, according to "Middle East Insurance Market Forecast to 2012" report.
Young educated population and government initiatives will fuel growth in the insurance sector of the region, according to RNCOS, the intelligence and creative solutions provider for contemporary businesses.
Separately, a study by Booz and Company said the MENA region's insurance market saw 26 percent compounded annual growth between 2005 and 2008, which was surpassed only by Central and Eastern Europe's 27 percent growth rate.
In 2008, the UAE market was the largest in terms of gross premium income (GPI), representing more than $5 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia with $3.1billion and Morocco with $2.5bn. According to a study by Research and Markets, total premiums earned by UAE insurance companies are expected to jump 76 percent to $9.11 billion over the next four years from $5.17 billion at the end of 2009.
The country's insurance market posted 9.8 percent year-on-year growth in premium income to $5.5 billion in 2009, the UAE Insurance Authority revealed recently.
Premiums from property and casualty business increased 7.7 percent over the previous year to $4.57 billion in 2009, accounting for 83.6 percent of total premiums, while underwriting premiums for life insurance and accumulation of funds operations grew 22.2 percent year on year to $816.79 million last year.
The UAE insurance market made investment of $6.26 billion in 2009, of which 47.3 percent were invested in stocks and bonds, and 34.2 percent in bank deposits. In comparison, the sector contributed $5.88 billion worth of investment towards the economy in 2008.
At the end of 2009, there were 32 national insurance companies and 26 foreign companies operating in the UAE.
Bahrain, Algeria and the UAE showed the strongest GPI growth rates between 2007 and 2008 at 46 percent, 45 percent and 41 percent respectively, said Booz and Company.
"The MENA region's share of the world market accounted for 0.42 percent last year. Furthermore, insurance penetration -- GPI as a percentage of gross domestic product -- remains low in the MENA region," said Peter Vayanos, a partner at Booz & Company. This ratio grew to 1.08 percent in 2008 from 1.05 percent in 2005, but paled in comparison to other major regions of the world.
"With MENA insurance expected to grow throughout the coming years, policymakers and regulators will have to address the challenges that lie ahead for the region to capture insurance's full growth potential, including developing an insurance talent base, fostering the development of takaful, creating and improving public awareness about insurance and supporting the growth of a regional insurance market," said Vayanos.