Damascus – The 6th session of the Damascus Insurance Forum entitled "Insurance ... Advance and Excellence" kicked off Tuesday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus.
The forum aims to promote the Arab insurance industry and the development of the potentials of the Arab insurance market through dialogue and discussion in this regard which would contribute to the optimal success of this industry and exchange of experiences and information at regional and international levels.
The event, organized by the Syrian Insurance Federation, was held in cooperation with the General Arab Insurance Federation (GAIF) and the Syrian Insurance Supervisory Commission (SISC).
Caretaker Minister of Finance Mohammad al-Hussein, at the opening of the forum, highlighted the extensive growth of the insurance sector in Syria in terms of quality and size, with insurance premiums tripling since 2006, amounting to around USD 500 million in 2010 with 31.5% growth compared to that of 2009, along with the development of most insurance portfolios especially those of health, life and fire.
The minister added that health insurance premiums amounted to SP 3.5 billion in the past year with a growth rate of 424 percent against 2009. This is due to the health insurance project for state employees and to an increase in the health insurance activity of the private insurance companies. Al-Hussein explained that this will lead to the advancement of medical services, upgrading the health care provided to citizens and the development of the health sector in Syria.
The minister pointed out that supervising all insurance portfolios of companies has shown that the Syrian insurance sector has surmounted the impacts of the global financial crisis in 2010 that indirectly affected the insurance sector. He affirmed that supervision on the insurance sector over the past years has significantly protected the companies working in the insurance market in addition to protecting the rights of insurance document holders with all parties concerned.
The minister said SISC has re-considered the procedures and decisions governing the operation of the market that resulted in the enhancement of activity mechanism and in creating new investment opportunities for insurance companies. This will definitely contribute to the distribution of investment risks, achieving the best investment return, and the enhancement of socio-economic development.
Chairman of the Syrian Insurance Federation Suleiman al-Hasan outlined the growth rate achieved in 2010 which amounted to 31 percent, highlighting the importance of Legislative Decree No. 43 issued recently by President Bashar al-Assad.
It is an advanced step to ensure health care for retirees and state employees in addition to Decree No. 45 on establishing the first specialized health insurance company.
Al-Hasan noted that the Federation seeks to develop the insurance market through working out solutions to market constraints resulting from the competitiveness among insurance companies, the issuance of insurance contracts on the Internet and the formation of a committee to resolve the problems facing companies. He pointed out that a website that takes care of insurance issues will be launched soon, in addition to opening regional offices, organizing training courses, and exchanging expertise with international institutes.
For his part, Secretary General of GAIF Abdelkhaleq Raouf Khalil called for establishing an advanced legislative environment to help the insurance sector to prosper in the Arab world, in addition to boosting awareness of the importance of insurance through benefiting from international experience in this area, exploring new methods to increase demand for insurance, development of laws and systems, activate marketing insurance products electronically, and facilitate access to market data.
Khalil also reviewed the recent achievements of GAIF, which include establishing the Arab Insurance Institute and setting up associations for insurance laws and insurance agents.
A documentary highlighting the advancement of the Syrian insurance market was screened at the Forum.