Swiss Re Study Examines World Insurance Market – 1999 Results

December 14, 2000

A new Swiss Re Sigma study gives an in depth look at the global insurance market based on 1999 premium figures from 134 countries. The industry, paced by booming life insurance sales, posted a 4.5 percent gain last year.

“Worldwide premium volume in 1999 amounted to USD 2324 billion, with life insurance accounting for 61% and non-life for 39%. Over nine tenths of premiums derived from the industrialised countries, where on average 8.7 of GDP or USD 2297 per capita was spent on insurance,” said Swiss Re’s announcement.

“Non-life growth of +1.2% in 1999 was below the long-term average,” it continued, and increased less than the average growth of GDP for the same period, due to deregulation in Europe and Japan, that put pressure on personal lines, and by continuing over capacity in international commercial business.

The U.S. is still the biggest area for insurance, accounting for almost 35 percent of worldwide sales. Unlike most other countries where life sales predominate, premium income in the U.S. is split about evenly between life and p/c.

While life sales soar, the report confirms downward trends in the non-life sector, stating, “The soft market, i.e. the low price phase which has come about in the last five years on the back of capital inflows into the insurance industry and the stock market rallies in the US and Europe, has sent prices spiralling (sic) downwards across the globe to an unsatisfactory level – especially in commercial insurance.”

It concludes that “A marked increase in premium rates will therefore be unavoidable.”

Copies of Sigma 9/2000, “World insurance 1999: Soaring Life insurance business,” may be obtained from Swiss Re’s website – – by e-mail – – or by phone -212 317 51 35, or fax 212 317 54 55.

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