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In spite of a challenging environment in 2015 with moderate global economic growth of 2.5%, direct premiums written grew 3.8% in real terms, up from 3.5% growth in 2014. However, in nominal US dollar (USD) terms, global premiums were down by 4.2%, due to currency depreciation against the USD, particularly in the advanced markets. There was a slight slowdown in the life sector in 2015, with global premium growth dipping to 4.0% from 4.3%, due to weaker performance in the advanced markets. On the non-life side, strong growth in the advanced markets of Asia, and improvement in North America and Western Europe, contributed to a 3.6% increase in global premiums, up from 2.4% growth in 2014.The sigma includes a special chapter on the slowdown in global trade in recent years, and its possible impact on the insurance sector.
Behind the excitement created by the leading emerging markets such as Brazil, India or China, there is a group of "frontier markets" which have a promising outlook for economic growth and offer attractive long-term potential for insurers. Swiss Re's latest sigma study looks at 21 frontier markets such as Nigeria, Ecuador, Vietnam and Azerbaijan. It provides an outlook for premium growth and an overview of the economic fundamentals which will lead to increased demand for insurance in these countries. The report also looks at the individual features of each market, covering topics such as impending regulatory changes and the influence of external factors such as regional trade agreements.
According to the latest sigma study, global insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2015 were USD 37 billion, well-below the USD 62 billion average of the previous 10 years. There were 353 disaster events last year. Of those, 198 were natural catastrophes, which is the highest number in one year, according to sigma records.
The life insurance industry is at a crossroads: new technologies pave the way for a revolution in the way insurers write business, handle data and engage consumers. Swiss Re's latest sigma study "Life insurance in the digital age: fundamental transformation ahead" looks at how life insurers have adopted some of the capabilities now available and how the future may take shape. It explores issues such as the use of Big Data, cognitive computing and how digital data can help insurers broaden their reach.
The global insurance industry gained momentum in 2014, even though the economic environment improved only marginally, says Swiss Re's latest sigma study. Total direct premiums written were up 3.7% to USD 4 778 billion after having stagnated the previous year. The life sector returned to positive growth, with premiums up 4.3% after a 1.8% decline in 2013, and non-life premium growth accelerated to 2.9% from 2.7%. A notable feature of the renewed momentum across the insurance industry was a significantly stronger performance in the advanced markets.
Underinsurance of property risks1 is a global challenge. Much of the protection gap is due to uninsured global natural catastrophe risk, which has been rising steadily over the past 40 years. Swiss Re’s sigma data show that total economic losses from natural disasters have averaged around USD 180 billion annually in the last decade, with 70% (USD 127 billion, or USD 1.3 trillion in total over the 10 years) of that uninsured. Earthquakes, floods and windstorms are the main perils, particularly in areas of high population and property value concentrations.
Mergers and acquisitions (M & A) tend to come in waves. After declining sharply in the wake of the financial crisis, overall M & A activity in the insurance sector has been relatively low in recent years and has only just started to increase. Surveys also suggest sentiment towards M & A is turning as insurers look for ways to deploy excess capital, boost or diversify revenue growth, build scale and ultimately bolster profitability in the face of ongoing economic headwinds.
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(Swiss Re Institute) Risk Dialogue Magazine
The Risk Dialogue Magazine is a newsletter exploring future risk topics, featuring multimedia articles from the Swiss Re Institute's events and insights from our global network of experts.
Our sigma publication series provides comprehensive information on the international insurance markets and analyses of economic trends and strategic issues in re/insurance and financial services.
Swiss Re Publications
Our publications share our expertise on issues of concern to our clients, the re/insurance industry and society - from food, health, longevity and financial security to managing climate and natural disaster risk.