Opportunities and challenges facing the insurance sector in Central America

​ Today in Central America, the ability to come up with new insurance products shall be a key factor in achieving greater market growth in 2016. With the increase in insurance premiums throughout the region, which based on a report issued by EY FSO Consulting is expected to reach between 6% and 7% this year, we are seeing a series of opportunities and challenges ahead hinging on greater innovation, product diversification and new distribution approaches. With the emergence of new digital tools, clients require their insurance products to be much more sophisticated and adapted to the new media and service channels. So insurance companies have been forced to diversify their business models, incorporating flexible, efficient and innovative strategies that allow them to address the challenges of a constantly changing market. For SURA adapting to this new landscape has constituted one of the key focuses of its strategic planning, along with other factors such as innovation and new businesses, geographic expansion and market development. For Gina Jiménez, Head of Sales, and Alexandra de Leon, Head of Persons and Families for Seguros SURA in the Dominican Republic, these are the opportunities that are being faced today from the performance and process standpoints: ​  Opportunities for the client: a multi-solution and multi-channel focus Focusing strategies on non-traditional segments such as SMEs and micro RDs. Creating greater access channels through new technological tools. Increasing the Company's visibility on social networks and other online communication channels. Diversifying client segmentation to include the hike in SMEs. Developing more and better professional advisory services on the part of our client care personnel.   Analyzing the dynamics prevailing within the region and the particular cases of each country, so that insurance companies can come up with new ideas for viable concrete strategies and models which the market is currently calling for. The study titled " Outlook for 2016 : The Insurance Industry in Central America and the Dominican Republic" drawn up by Fitch Ratings, has provided facts, figures and forecasts regarding the economic situation in each country, thus allowing for further reflection for future arrangements and alliances. The following are just some of the main takeaways corresponding to Panama, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, where SURA is currently present:   Panama With a dynamic economy, and serving as a major international financial center, Panama shall continue to encourage current competitors to bolster their positions and new players to make their debut on the local insurance market.  For this reason, competitors from the insurance sector shall be increasingly focusing on developing new lines of personal insurance in 2016.   El Salvador The importance of all those mergers and acquisitions that have affected the local insurance industry, especially those involving the transition from international groups to regional groups, could lead to a reduction in the increase in premiums and a decline in capitalization 2016. The profitability of the insurance industry is expected to be fuelled by the prospects of greater growth with the bancassurance and micro insurance products.   Dominican Republic In 2016, the effective implementation of reforms aimed at improving the country's productivity may have a favorable effect on the sector. Moreover, substantial competition is considered to remain a decisive factor for the sector´s growth. The greatest challenge and possibly the greatest opportunity for the local insurance sector has to do with modernization, having to rethink ways to adapt to the region´s ever-changing dynamics shall have an effect on how clients act and decide. Finally, innovation shall be the overriding factor for being able to ensure the sustainability and robust performance of insurance companies going forward.