The world insurance market, a slowing growth

The world insurance market has experienced a slowdown in 2009 as regards the growth of contributions. Hit by the impact of the financial crisis, the sector reported a 3.6% decline in the collected premiums which amounted to 4,066 billion USD.

Image provided to Microsoft by iStockphoto. Used with permission from MicrosoftLife premiums are the ones pulling the turnover down(-4.4%), while non-life insurance decreased by just 2.6%.

Evolution of life and non life insurance: 2005-2009*
in billions USD
 200520062007200820092008/2009 evolution
Life premiums
2003.62209.32 393.12 4392 331.5-4.4%
Non life premiums
1442.21514.11 667.71 7811734.5-2.6%
3445.8 3723.4 4060.8 4 220 4066 -3.6%
* The mentioned growth rates do not take inflation into account

Industrialized countries: a fall in premiums

Industrialized countries, which generate nearly 87% of the world contributions volume have posted a negative progression in their written premiums (-4.6%): the United States and the United Kingdom are the hardest hit, especially in life insurance, with respective decreases of 14.9% and 23.9% in nominal value.

Same trend in non-life business. Most industrialized countries (USA, UK, Japan, Italy) are exhibiting negative indicators: the fall is of 2.1% in the United States and 16.4% in the United Kingdom.

This decrease in premiums is accounted for by:

  • the consequences of the financial crisis, which has continued to slow down growth,
  • the depreciation of most currencies against the American dollar,
  • the collapse in sales of savings and insurance products in unit of account,
  • the uncertainty prevailing over financial markets.

Emerging markets: a substantial growth

Used with permission from MicrosoftIn most emerging markets, mainly in Asia, insurance has continued its growth but at a slower pace. Premiums rose by 3.9% against 23.8% in 2008, that is, the poorest growth in 35 years. Despite this slowdown, the share of the emerging markets in the world premium volume has increased. It rose from 12% in 2008 to 13% in 2009.

Premiums' growth has varied significantly from region to region

Life insurance has been up by 4.9% against 23.9% a year earlier. Growth remained strong in South East Asia with an increase of 14%. Premiums have also increased in Latin America and the Caribbean (+4.3%) , whereas in Central and Eastern Europe they went down by 30%.

As for non-life insurance, growth has varied significantly from region to region. Premiums have increased by 14.8% in South East Asia and fallen significantly in Central and Eastern Europe (-7.8%).

For all of these markets, growth has been of 2.7% against 23.7% in 2008. This lack of dynamism is accounted for by a decline in marine and motor insurance.

Middle East: stagnation

After years of solid growth, the Middle East has exhibited deceiving results in 2009. Estimated at 3 billion USD, life premiums fell by 9% in comparison with the 27% increase in 2008. Large disparities have been noticed between the countries of this region. In Saudi Arabia, life and personal accident insurance has maintained a double-digit growth (+68%) in 2009, while in Oman, Jordan or Lebanon, the life and personal accident insurance premium volume has shrunk by respectively 4.6%, 2.2% and 20%.

Negatively impacted by the economic recession, non-life insurance has suffered a stagnation of its 2009 turnover which amounted to 24 billion USD, following a 20% rise in 2008.

Africa: a slight growth

The future of the African insurance market is promising despite the modest results achieved in 2009. Africa, whose share of the world insurance market remains minimal, at 1.2%, has collected 51 billion USD of premiums.

Life insurance has declined by 10% to reach 33 billion USD, whereas in 2008, it rose by almost 1%. The non-life class of business has grown by 1.1% compared to 5% in 2008. South Africa remains, by far the largest, market in the region accounting for over half of the non-life premiums and 90% of life premiums.

Evolution of premiums per zone: 2005-2009
in millions USD
shares in %
Western Europe
1288 3861398 5151606 3241605 6231525 95337.53
North America
1187 8531262 0601330 0661344 1051238 58630.47
Japan & South East Asia
748 504758 100817 408906 047960 89923.63
Latin America & the Caribbean
58 78771 53287 397106 302110 9102.73
Central & Eastern Europe
46 67156 99474 36998 09084 6672.08
56 19058 23868 81878 54367 2411.65
42 71849 87453 29452 82949 2871.21
Near East & Central Asia
16 70619 57923 19428 53128 5520.70
Total world
3445 815 3674 892 4060 870 4220 070 4066 095 100
Nota: Premiums' growth rates do not take into account the effects of inflation and represent nominal values.
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