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The direct insurance industry is on the road to recovery with further progress expected this year, according to Swiss Re’s latest sigma study. Worldwide premiums for life and non-life insurance grew by an inflation-adjusted 2% to USD 2 941 billion in 2003. sigma’s annual review of developments in world insurance shows premiums and results in non-life business increased markedly in 2003. Life insurers reported improved profitability despite a slight decline in premium income. The recovery is set to continue in 2004.
Millions of consumers around the world lack adequate life insurance protection, according to a Swiss Re sigma study released today. "Mortality protection: the core of life" identifies significant shortfalls in the amount of mortality cover purchased when compared with consumers’ real protection needs. If the protection gap were to be filled, the average amount a family spends on life insurance premiums each year would need to increase by USD 98 to USD 444, depending on the country.
From the beginning of 2005, all listed insurers in the European Union (EU) will be required to comply with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The latest Swiss Re sigma study, “The impact of IFRS on the insurance industry”, finds that while the standards will increase transparency, they may also bring higher earnings and capital volatility.
Swiss Re’s latest sigma study reveals unprecedented economic losses of USD 370 billion from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2011. Despite immense insured losses of USD 116 billion (a 142% increase over the previous year) arising from record earthquake and flood losses, the insurance industry weathered the year well and played a key role in risk management and post-disaster recovery financing
Consolidation in the global life insurance market is set to accelerate in the coming years. Underlying this trend is an increase in the capital available to life insurers. Cost-cutting and thriving equity markets have strengthened life insurers’ balance sheets.
In 2005, more than 97 000 people lost their lives due to natural catastrophes or man-made disasters. The Swiss Re sigma statistics for 2005 counted almost 400 catastrophes, which caused damage totalling more than USD 230 billion. About one third, or USD 83 billion, was covered by insurance. In the previous year, insured catastrophe losses had amounted to USD 48 billion. 2005 turned out to be the costliest year ever for property insurers.
The non-life insurance industry posted sound underwriting profits in 2004, according to Swiss Re’s latest sigma study. Over the last decade, however, the contribution of underwriting to overall profitability was small, and non-life insurers faced difficulties in earning their cost of capital.
The Solvency II Directive will strengthen European insurers’ focus on risk/return. According to Swiss Re’s latest sigma study, Solvency II will reinforce risk-adequate pricing. An improved supervision framework will benefit both policyholders and insurers.
In 2005, the worldwide insurance industry wrote premiums to the tune of USD 3 426 billion. According to a Swiss Re sigmastudy, life insurance grew by 3.9% and non-life by 0.6%. The 2003/04 trend towards improved capitalisation and profitability continued in 2005 in both life and non-life insurance.
Rapid rise of international trade creates growth opportunities for credit insurance and surety in the emerging markets and in OECD countries. Risk management holds the key to success for insurers.
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