All insurance enterprises were nationalized by January 1964. Although insurance never accounted for more than 1% of national income, new opportunities began to emerge throughout the insurance sector as a result of the changes in economic structure. Seven insurance companies and two reinsurers had offices in Cuba in 1997. They concentrated on freight insurance, but there was interest in development and diversification.
Cuba's domestic state insurance company, Esen, appeared to be preparing to compete with foreign companies in the domestic market in 1997. It launched a major marketing drive with an expanded sales force of 3,500 to persuade Cubans to take out new personal insurance policies. Apparently, they were having some success, despite the lack of a private insurance tradition. The volume of premiums was 30% higher in 1995 than in 1990. New products include not only travel and medical insurance, but also pensions and life insurance policies. In 1997, a new insurance law was passed to permit the establishment of private insurers to compete with the state-owned companies. Although limited foreign penetration into the Cuban market will help to develop the sector, the authorities will continue to foster the development of Cuban insurers before the sector is fully opened. Private insurance schemes will not replace state social security provision.