Emerging Europe and Central Asia - Life sector contraction continues
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- The slump in life premiums in 2019 was mainly due to a stark decline in Russia (–13%), which had previously been the region’s main growth driver.
- In EU-CEE life insurance markets last year, premiums continued to fall in Poland (–7.3%), the Czech Republic (–7.8%) and Slovakia (–2.8%), after contracting in 2018. Poland stayed on a negative trend in single premium and linked business; the Czech Republic underperformed in regular life lines; and Slovakia took a larger-than-usual hit in unit-linked business. In Hungary (3.4%) and Slovenia (3.5%), growth remained on a positive trend.
- CIS countries excluding Russia continued to outperform with premiums in Kazakhstan growing by 57.9%, and by 11% in Ukraine. Albeit being relatively small markets, together with Turkey (22%) they contributed more than one fifth of the region’s life premium growth in 2019.
- The outlook for the region points to further disappointments in premium growth as most countries will experience COVID-19 induced recession.
- We expect credit-linked business in Turkey to be hit by a slump in the real estate sector. Savings products will underperform across the region in 2020.
- We expect the economic recovery to be accompanied by mid single-digit life premium expansion in 2021.
- Non-life premiums in the region grew by 4.4% last year, slower than in 2018 but higher than the 10-year average of 1.5%.
- The four CEE-EU member states, the Czech Republic (+10%), Hungary (+13%), Poland (+2.1%) and Bulgaria (+14%) accounted for just over half of the growth in the region. The strong growth in Hungary and the Czech Republic can be attributed to motor. Poland’s broad-based expansion moderated.
- Turkey (+4.6%), Ukraine (+7.5%) and Kazakhstan (+16%) all performed well, improving significantly on their 2018 growth numbers. The growth in Kazakhstan can be mainly attributed to a better performance in property lines, outweighing heavy contractions in general liability.
- Meanwhile Russia’s non-life business stagnated in 2019, as liability insurance premiums almost halved due to regulatory changes enacted back in 2018. However, added flexibility in agricultural insurance regulation led to a strong growth in this business line, which we expect to continue.