Georgia is a mountainous country with a mild climate which facilitates the growing of many crops - it is home to one of the oldest wine-producing regions of the world. It is a fascinating country, popular with tourists and, for business, is generally regarded as one of the most transparent and investor-friendly countries of the former Soviet Union. The people are renowned for their warm hospitality and excellent cuisine and of course fine wines, especially reds.

The Georgian insurance market is a small but emerging one with total direct gross premiums written of GEL 542.20mn in 2018 (USD 185.05mn) and a growth in local currency of 22.83%.

I spoke with Axco's researcher following his visit to the capital Tbilisi. The insurance market report for Georgia will be republished this month.

WHAT HAS CHANGED IN THE MARKET SINCE YOUR LAST VISIT?

There were a number of changes to the insurance market in 2018, with new and significantly increased minimum capital requirements for insurers, a new supervisory levy and the introduction of several new compulsory insurances, the main one being compulsory motor third-party liability (CMTPL) for vehicles crossing the border into Georgia. A new law on accumulative pensions that came into force from the beginning of this year, has proved unpopular and has led to a constitutional challenge.

WHAT SHOULD WE LOOK FOR IN THE FUTURE?

Georgia is unusual in that there is currently no CMTPL requirement in the country. A draft bill is currently under consideration by parliament which will introduce this. Due to the unpopularity of the measure and concern over affordability for citizens, the implementation date remains unclear, but the government is under pressure to progress this and other commitments (such as Solvency II) outlined in its Association Agreement with the EU. Implementation of CMTPL will undoubtedly help improve insurance premium penetration and local insurance culture. One local contact's estimate for the size of the domestic CMTPL premium is GEL 150mn (USD 51.20mn).

A local company to watch is TBC Insurance (part of the TBC Bank Group) which has gained a rapid 11.38% market share since its start-up in 2016 and already ranked fourth in 2018. Its disruptive success is based around the bancassurance distribution model and a high level of digital marketing. I expect the company may well be a market leader by the end of 2020.

WERE THERE ANY SURPRISES DURING YOUR VISIT?