Insurers circle Iran as restrictions lifted
Global insurance firms are circling Iran for business opportunities following the lifting of sanctions - and the first test of their appetite could come in March when some Iranian companies seek new cover.
Insurers, the reinsurers that share their risk and the brokers that forge deals are exploring ways to tap a market worth $7.4bn (€6.9bn) in premiums after a nuclear accord between world powers and Tehran led to the removal of restrictions on financial dealings with Iran this month.
Allianz, Zurich Insurance, Hannover Re and RSA said in recent days that they would evaluate potential opportunities in the country.
Insurance and reinsurance specialists regard the marine and energy sectors as among those offering the best opportunities in oil-producing Iran.
Alongside commercial cover, life insurance is a potential growth area as it represents less than a tenth of overall Iranian premiums, compared with more than half globally.
At first, international companies are likely to link up with Iranian firms to capitalise on their local knowledge and to reinsure local insurance in the international market, according to industry experts, with international brokers helping foreign firms get that business.
However, despite the lifting of sanctions, hurdles still remain which are making companies cautious about a speedy entry.
The US curbs still in place exclude American nationals, banks and insurance industry players from trading with Iran, including dollar business, so concerns remain on whether other foreign insurers can transact without the risk of penalties.