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Costa Rica’s insurance market: A smooth opening

March 18, 2011

In analyzing the progress in opening up Costa Rica’s insurance market, David Garrett says the Insurance Superintendency’s (SUGESE) procedures for approval and registration are bureaucratic and excessive, and that “[S]ome believe the superintendency is pedaling slowly to allow [the National Insurance Institute, or INS] to shape up and face competition” (TT, Feb. 18). These comments are all the more surprising coming from an insurance broker.

Regarding the first issue, it is necessary to clarify that the rules of authorization and registration of the insurance market are consistent with the best international standards.

The development of financial markets – and the insurance market is no exception – should be based on good faith and transparency. Existing regulations clearly establish the requirements, deadlines and steps for the different licensing procedures.

This office helps applicants navigate the different stages of the process. Having passed such an authorization process, Mr. Garrett should be aware of this. Therefore his unwarranted comment is surprising.

As per the second point, we take strong exception to the reckless comment made by Mr. Garrett in his article. SUGESE acts independently and follows the highest technical standards.

Registration and licensing procedures are clearly regulated, and evaluation criteria are of public knowledge.

Furthermore, current rules were enacted just two months after the approval of the Ley Reguladora del Mercado de Seguros, following a public consultation process that allowed all concerned parties to make comments.

Moreover, since its inception SUGESE has shown total openness to eventually analyze current regulations. To be clear, Mr. Garrett has not presented any suggestion to SUGESE in this regard.

Opinions about whether or not the opening process has been slow or not depend on the role played by each participant in the market.

However, the facts abundantly show that there has been important and decisive progress in this process: not only were basic regulations adopted less than two months after the approval of the law, but the first company asked for permission to operate just a month and a half later, and that authorization was given just six months after the law was passed.

Two and a half years into the process we have already authorized 11 companies – eight of which are registered and operating. There are more than 200 products on the market, and 7 companies brokering insurance have been accredited, as well as more than 1,000 agents and 30 individual brokers.

It is hard to understand the motives of a recently authorized insurance broker to make such unwarranted comments, using the very convenient argument of attributing them to “some” people. We strongly believe that the development of the insurance market will be strengthened in the future by contributions with real value, not by simplistic comments containing no concrete proposals for further improvement.

Data Entities

Finally, it is necessary to clarify some incorrect data from the article in commentary:

• Seguros del Magisterio was licensed and registered in 2009. It has not been operating since 1920. In addition, its products are targeted to the general public, not just educators.

• Seguros Bolívar was authorized on Feb. 8, 2011, so its authorization is not conditioned in any way.

• Since Feb. 2, 2010, Mapfre got conditional approval to sell personal and general insurances.

Readers can find additional information on our website: www.sugese.fi.cr

Javier Cascante

Superintendent of Insurance

Tomás Soley

Intendant of Insurance

The Tico Times welcomes your feedback. Drop us a line at letters@ticotimes.net

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