SEE insurers send off 2012 with glimmer of hope

by Emiliya Atanasova

2012 was not a year Europe would want to remember, at least when it comes to matters of economy. Rising unemployment, persistent sovereign debt problems in the eurozone and public backlash against austerity programmes: these were some of the problems the European Union had to wrestle with. Against that dismal backdrop, the performance of SEE’s TOP 100 insurers in 2012 is something of a feat. Judging by the overall figures, insurance companies may have finally glimpsed the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel given expectations for a return to GDP growth (albeit very modest) in the region.

A look at the 2012 results provides ground for optimism. After sliding to 6.05 billion euro in 2011, the combined amount of gross written premiums (GWP) went up to 6.33 billion euro last year. Moreover, the number of unprofitable companies on the TOP 100 list inched down from 17 to 16 (full-year data was not available for two companies in 2012 and three in 2011).

Modra Zavarovalnica d.d. merits special mention for its GWP growth, which stood at a mightily impressive 1,060.51%. This achievement resulted in GWP of 17.6 million euro and granted the Slovenian company entry into the TOP 100 club, placing it at number 69. At the other end of the spectrum was Romania’s Omniasig Vienna Insurance Group SA, whose GWP plunged by 69.49% to 52.5 million euro. As a result, it finished at number 34 on the list as opposed to seventh in the 2011 ranking. It should be noted, however, that the company was acquired by BCR Asigurari VIG and its results cover only the January-April period of 2012. Overall, 39 insurers wrapped up 2012 with lower GWP, while 44 suffered declines in 2011.

Slovenia’s Zavarovalnica Triglav d.d. refuses to let go of the SEE insurance crown, holding firmly to the top spot for yet another year. SeeNews published its first insurer league table in 2010 and Zavarovalnica Triglav has always finished way ahead of the competition. In 2012, the company recorded yet another slide in GWP, which fell by 7.05% to 647.6 million euro. Nevertheless, the amount was far greater than the number featuring next to the name of perennial number two: Croatia Osiguranje d.d. In 2012, it delivered GWP of 351.9 million euro. In an interesting turn of events, the third place was occupied by a new chart entrant: Vzajemna Zdravstvena Zavarovalnica d.v.z. of Slovenia stormed in with GWP of 270.9 million euro. The former occupant of that slot, Adriatic Slovenica d.d., slid to number four but it was still a win for Slovenia. The country ended with four representatives on the top ten list, compared to three in 2011, including fourth-ranked Zavarovalnica Maribor d.d. Romania had the same number of representatives but the country did better in 2011, when it had five. In 2012, positions six to nine were occupied by Romanian insurers Astra SA, Allianz – Tiriac Asigurari SA, Groupama Asigurari SA and Omniasig Vienna Insurance Group SA (former BCR Asigurari VIG). The tenth place went to a Serbian company, Dunav Osiguranje AD.

Not surprisingly, the most profitable SEE insurer in 2012 was Zavarovalnica Triglav. The company exited the year with a net profit of 50.4 million euro compared to 43.8 million euro in 2011. The former BCR Asigurari VIG rose from number 15 to number nine thanks to an 80.26% surge in GWP but it was a whole different story on the profit front. The Romanian company posted the biggest net loss, recording a deficit of 51.5 million euro. A year earlier, it had delivered 320,000 euro in net profit.

The TOP 100 club of SEE insurers welcomed eight newcomers in 2012. In addition to the two Slovenian companies already mentioned, the doors opened before BRD Asigurari De Viata SA, Certasig – Societate De Asigurare Si Reasigurare SA and Credit Europe Asigurari- Reasigurari SA of Romania (ranked 78th, 97th and 100th respectively); Bulgaria’s DZI Life Insurance AD (71st); Winner Vienna Insurance Group AD of Macedonia (95th) and Montenegrin Delta Generali Osiguranje AD (99th). In 2011, Bulgaria managed to overtake Romania as the SEE country with the highest number of representatives on the TOP 100 list. However, Romania snatched back the title in 2012 as the number of its insurers rose to 22 from 20 a year earlier. In contrast, Bulgaria’s contribution amounted to 18 names versus 21 in the 2011 chart. Slovenia and Montenegro were winners in that respect: the list featured 11 Slovenian names compared to nine previously, while the number of Montenegrin representatives rose from two to three. Croatia did worse, placing 17 companies in the chart as opposed to 19 in 2011. The rest of the countries maintained their share steady: Serbia with 11 names, Bosnia and Herzegovina with ten, Macedonia with five, Moldova with two and Albania with one.