Europe coming together – also in insurance

Like in other economic areas, differences between the Eastern European countries and the rest of Europe are also disappearing in insurance. CEE states have travelled a long way after the fall of the Iron Curtain: they started at a very low point of insurance volume, but insurance penetration has steadily been growing, “Western” insurance practices and legislations have been introduced very fast. Today the CEE insurance market consists of both subsidiaries of international groups and strong local companies.

Whereas at the beginning there was only motor insurance and industrial insurance in the focus, the population can by now afford better insurance for their property as well as life insurance. Only liability insurance remains behind, as the jurisdiction is still not at the high level of protecting the interests of claimants like in the rest of Europe.
For this reason, the change in underwriting behaviour we are currently facing is somehow smoother on the CEE markets, but the general strategy of international groups and business exchange with reinsurance will lead to similar situations like in other highly developed markets.
For the most recent developments on the CEE insurance markets we have picked Poland, Czech Republic and Russia as a model for other markets.

Poland

In 2020 the Polish insurance market achieved a premium volume of 20.7 bn PZN (4.6 bn EUR) in Life insurance and 40.7 bn PZN (9 bn EUR) in Non-Life. Insurance penetration stands at 3.7 %, thus reflecting the country’s overall picture as one of the well-advanced economies among the Eastern countries. There is a typical consolidation tendency on the insurance market, as shown by the recent sales between international groups: Nationale Nederlanden bought MetLife, Allianz took over Aviva and Uniqa purchased Axa. Despite these changes, most European insurance groups are active in Poland, contributing largely to the capacity of the market along with major Polish insurer PZU. For overall market figures see:www.piu.org.pl

For many years, Poland has been a rather low-premium market due to high competition and relatively good results in most lines of business. This has changed by now in industrial insurance, where international standards and practices are more and more adopted. So, we have seen the same tendencies like in Western Europe at the last renewal and are expecting them for the renewal(s) to come:

  • more underwriting information required in order to support a policy of selective underwriting, but still no withdrawal from certain branches or occupations;
  • increase of deductibles;
  • price increase in PDBI and Cyber of 10 % – 20 %, and of 20 % – 30 % in D&O, thus more moderate than in other countries.
  • CAR insurance is well developing due to the booming construction industry in the country, but bad loss experience in civil engineering for roads, hydrotechnical plants and tunnelling is leading to a reduction of market capacity, available only at higher price.

One of the great changes the Polish economy will have to face is the transformation from coal as the country’s most important energy source, to other, “green”, sources. Although this will take some time, opportunities for innovation of both the technical bases and insurance solutions will positively influence the insurance market.
Still, one of the main concerns of the insurers is to obtain higher market shares, which leads on the one hand to product innovation and product enrichment in life insurance and to a wild price war on the other.

Czech Republic

The Non-life insurance premium of this traditional industrial nation amounted in 2020 to 94.7 bn CZK (3.6 bn EUR) and the Life insurance premium reached 46.5 bn CZK (1.8 bn EUR). This results in a good average insurance penetration of 3.2 %. Market shares of the insurers working in the country remain stable. After the integration of former state-owned market leader Ceska pojistovna into Generali a short time ago, the market is dominated by the big European insurance groups. Generali will also reach out to integrate their company in neighbouring Slovakia into Generali CZ, thus again creating one market for both countries.
The insurance market has gone well through the Covid-19 pandemic, as the peril was excluded from all wordings except travel insurance. It seems that the market will become interesting for MGAs working with the capacity of German and British insurers. The year 2020 was relatively good for the insurance market with the same claims experience like in the previous year.

  • The general underwriting policy remains unchanged except for some insurance lines like D&O, cyber and similar financial lines, where local carriers follow the approach of the international markets, reducing the capacities and increasing the price by 10 – 20 %.
  • In industrial insurance, pricing remains stable and is rather competitive.
  • There is also a strong tendency to increase prices in motor insurance for all clients with a long-term loss ratio above 60 %. There is a high stability in the scope of coverage provided, with no signs of restrictions.

Russia

The Russian insurance market consists of 229 market players (154 Insurers, 57 Insurance brokers, 18 other insurance related companies), but their number is decreasing (e.g. minus 13 within one year) due to the consolidation between local insurance groups. Despite the enormous size of the nation, business is concentrated in Moscow, with 10 insurers collecting 70 % of the whole market’s premium of 865 bn RUB (10 bn EUR) in non-life and 430.5 bn RUB (4.9 bn EUR) in life insurance.

Supervision of the insurance market by the Central Bank of Russian Federation is quite effective, focusing on financial stability and good business standards, approaching the high levels valid in the European Union. After the restrictive measures by the state in connection with Covid-19 in 2020, the insurance industry is recovering and will reach a growth rate of 8 % in credit and life insurance and of at least 3 % in non-life insurance until the end of 2021.

There is still a soft market for property and casualty insurance, as well as employee benefits and the marine lines, but, like anywhere else, a hard market in financial lines such as D&O, Cyber and Crime. After price increases of 20 – 30 % in D&O in 2020, a further 5 – 10 % rise has been registered at this year’s renewal, all at rather limited capacities. If, in all lines, a major reinsurance share is needed due to the size of the risk, the strategy of the international carriers will influence local underwriting decisions, leading to the well-known price increase and other measures.

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Andreas Krebs

Andreas Krebs

Head of Insurance Mediation Services

T +43 5 0404 229