Region: ING Latin America recently reported that its pre-tax profits in the region were up 17% (US$95 million) when comparing 1Q09 to 1Q08. After excluding currency effects, the growth was even more pronounced at more than 33%. The company’s earning release noted reduced integration and operating costs and improved equity market returns as factors in the growth, but noted that the positive results were negatively impacted by increased claims in Brazil and inflation in Chile.

Mexico: Despite the economic crisis in the United States and throughout the world, which has significantly impacted the performance of the Mexican economy, the Mexican insurance industry continues to grow. The Comision Nacional de Seguros y Fianzas recently reported that direct premiums for 1Q09 grew by 15.9% over 1Q08. The growth was led by the property and casualty sector, where total premiums grew 38.8% quarter over quarter. In related news, Hiscox recently reported that its Mexican reinsurance business in the first quarter of 2009 grew by 51% when compared to 1Q08.

Ecuador: Total premiums in the Ecuadorian life insurance market increased 23.6% when comparing March 2009 to March 2008, totaling US$41.12 million for the month. More than 74% of those premiums were concentrated among the top ten Ecuadorian life insurers. Nicaragua: Despite the economic downturn in the country, the Nicaraguan insurance market continues to grow, according to local officials and companies. After experiencing 12% growth in 2008, the market reportedly grew by an additional 4% when comparing March 2009 to March 2008.

Costa Rica: The Contraloria General de la Republica recently issued a statement informing the Institute Nacional de Seguros (the former national insurance market monopoly-holder) that, despite new laws permitting the INS to expand internationally, it is empowered only to partner with foreign companies, not create or acquire foreign companies. The announcement appears to have been news to the INS, which until recently was reportedly in detailed discussions to purchase a Nicaraguan insurance company.