The Kyrgyz life insurance market in 2018 was very small with reported life premiums of just KGS 20,000 (USD 274.52, or USD 0.00027mn) according to market statistics. To put that into perspective, a flight from London to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital, would cost over double that to visit for a week in August (USD 804.88).

Why might this be?

This tiny market total figure refers to the premiums written by the Kyrgyzstan Insurance Company. Only one other insurer, Jubilee Kyrgyzstan Insurance Company, is active in the country's life insurance market (since 2015), but reports show that the KGS 115.9mn (USD 1.59mn) of the company's total premiums written are almost entirely pertaining to the non-life sector.

It is also understood that some life business is included within official statistics as PA & healthcare business, which preliminary figures for 2018 show total premiums written as USD 2.3mn, 14.41% of the total market. This inclusion may well inflate the total statistics for the life market, maybe even past the price of the flight to Bishkek from London.

In Axco's Global Statistics service, Kyrgyzstan has consistently ranked as the lowest in the global life insurance market (177th) for the past 14 years, since 2005, in terms of total premiums written in terms of USD. In 2004, the Kyrgyz life market was ranked 157th, writing a total of USD 0.23mn in premiums. In 2016 and 2017, there was no reported life business written whatsoever.

In short, the Kyrgyz insurance market in 2019 is small and undeveloped, with a very low insurance penetration and a very underdeveloped insurance culture compared with its neighbours Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and also Russia. This underdevelopment reflects the condition of the economy where disposable incomes are modest. There is also a very low awareness about insurance and its benefits amongst individuals and companies who will often only buy insurance when it is a compulsory requirement.

So, considering all of this, what does the future hold for this minuscule life insurance market?

Despite the apparent difficulties and very low levels of business, several companies are actually very interested in launching a life insurance capability, and it is thought that the Kyrgyz life market is now poised to start developing finally.

At the moment, the Kyrgyz insurance market consists of 16 licensed insurance companies, all of which are joint-stock companies. Several Kyrgyz insurers hold life licences but in 2019 only two companies, Kyrgyzstan Insurance Company and Jubilee Insurance, were transacting life business. Most of the insurers hold licences to transact healthcare insurance.

Axco will continue to monitor the future of Kyrgyzstan's market and if there indeed will be any developments that bring the market to a more evolved environment.

For more information about Axco's Insurance Market Report for Kyrgyzstan or guidance about Axco updates, please contact axco@axcoinfo.com.