Until the 1950s, insurance companies operating in Egypt were mostly branches of foreign institutions. In July 1961, Egypt promulgated laws nationalizing all insurance companies. From 1996, the insurance market was dominated by four public-sector insurance companies (one of which was a re-insurance company), although three private-sector companies existed. Two joint ventures with foreign firms operated in the free zones. The domestic insurance market was closed to foreign companies, although they were able to operate as minority partners in Egypt's eight free zones.
As part of its IMF agreement, the government pushed a new, if still restrictive, insurance law through the People's Assembly in early May 1995. This allowed foreign access to the domestic market on condition that the foreign company owned no more than a 49% stake in the insurance company, that the manager of the company was Egyptian, and that the company met the capitalization requirement of $9 million. By 1998, the Egyptian Parliament had passed a law allowing 100% ownership by foreign insurance companies, and complete privatization of public-sector insurance companies, but little progress has been made towards these goals. In 1999, there were 12 national insurance companies practicing in Egypt, and by 2001 there was $174 million in life insurance premiums written.