The Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS), the Costa Rican insurer that previously enjoyed a national monopoly, recently announced the launching of 17 new insurance products and also confirmed its intent to enter each of the other Central American insurance markets in 2009.

The new products, to be marketed and sold through public and private banks, include various personal lines policies, such as a family protection policy and a cancer coverage policy. The family protection policy offers coverage for food, housing, education and transport for surviving family members, while the cancer policy provides coverage for diagnostics, funeral expenses and hospitalization. Guillermo Constenla, executive president of the INS, reportedly commented that the new products were chosen because the INS expected new competitors entering the market to offer such products. HSBC Bank, which has 38 branches and 200,000 accounts nationwide, will reportedly begin selling the policies on January 2, 2009.

Mr. Constenla also reportedly commented on the INS’ plans for expansion and its financial performance for the year. First, Mr. Constenla confirmed the INS’ intent to enter each of the other Central American markets in 2009 and noted that negotiations concerning the acquisition of several entities are at an advanced stage. Second, he stated that the INS will finish the year with after-tax revenue of $111.7 million, reflecting 15% growth over the last year. This growth rate is down from 46% the prior year, a decline that Mr. Constenla reportedly attributed to premium declines and higher operating costs.