As it prepares to compete in the country's newly de-monopolized insurance, Costa Rica's state insurance giant, the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS), has recently announced the creation of four new insurance entities: INS Internacional, INS Servicios, INS Vida and INS Comercializadora. The move is part of an effort by INS to restructure, retain customers and grow its business in the face of new competition.

A new law regulating the insurance industry came into force in August 2008 (for a discussion of the law, please click here) that brought INS's 80-year insurance monopoly in Costa Rica to an end. Domestic and foreign companies are expected to set up operations in the country in the near future, while the INS has been granted permission to operate in foreign markets. Initial target areas are Central America and the Caribbean, according to the INS website.

INS Internacional will manage these overseas operations, while INS Servicios will serve an auxiliary function, enabling INS to restructure areas such as auto/motor insurance. Efficiency savings achieved through INS Servicios will be fed back to customers through reduced policy premiums, according to local press reports. INS Vida will focus on the life insurance sector, which had been largely neglected during INS's time as the monopoly provider. Finally, INS Comercializadora will be the sales arm of INS, offering its range of products to the market.

INS has also stated that it may enter the catastrophe risk market, offering insurance on state-owned assets at first.