Uneven recovery constrains insurance business in SEE

The patchy performance of the economies of the countries in Southeast Europe (SEE) proved a drag on the region’s insurance industry in 2013, leading to a drop of 2.0% to 6.2 billion euro in the combined gross written premiums (GWP) of the entrants in the 2013 edition of the SEE TOP 100 insurers ranking compared to the companies that made the 2012 cut.

The challenging market conditions also affected the profitability of the SEE insurers, pushing them to a combined net loss of 70 million euro last year from a combined net profit of 156.42 million euro in 2012. The count of profitable insurance companies in the region edged down to 77 in 2013 from 78 in the previous year*.

The total combined net profit of the region’s top five insurers dropped 18.3% to 75.8 million euro in 2013, weighed down by the tough economic environment. Overall, 68 insurers in the 2013 edition of the ranking recorded higher GWP with 32 posting a drop.

Ljubljana-based Zavarovalnica Triglav kept the mantle of the region’s biggest insurer in 2013, posting a total of 605.8 million euro GWP, retaining its sizeable lead ahead of second-ranked Croatia Osiguranje, which recorded GWP of 343.7 million euro.

Zavarovalnica Triglav has enjoyed an uninterrupted run at the top ever since the inaugural edition of the ranking of the 100 biggest SEE insurers in 2010.

Zavarovalnica Triglav also led the rest of the field in terms of net profit earned in 2013 with 48.3 million euro. Romania’s Allianz-Tiriac Asigurari ranked second while Croatia’s Euroherc Osiguranje placed third, earning a net profit of 19.8 million euro and 13.9 million euro, respectively.

The top five spots in the 2013 edition of the SEE TOP 100 insurers ranking underwent only minor changes, with only two companies exchanging their positions compared to 2012 – Adriatic Slovenica advanced by one position, taking the third place in the ranking and pushing down to fourth Slovenian peer Vzajemna Zdravstvena Zavarovalnica. Croatia Osiguranje’s runner-up spot prevented a Slovenian sweep of the Top 5 which was rounded off by Zavarovalnica Maribor.

Bulgarian insurer SiVZK, a newcomer to the ranking, recorded the highest GWP growth rate in 2013 of 179.47% to 13 million euro. This performance earned the company an entry into the SEE TOP 100 insurers list for 2013, placing it as the 84th largest SEE insurer in terms of GWP.

Romanian life insurer BCR Asigurari de Viata, a member of the Vienna Insurance Group, led the decliners with a GWP drop of 49.82% to 47.6 million euro. This decrease sent the company tumbling 16 places on the SEE TOP 100 insurers ranking to 35th position compared to its showing in the 2012 edition.

No less than six of the newcomers in the ranking’s 2013 edition hail from Romania and Bulgaria – evenly split between the two, while the remaining three came from Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia.

The Bulgarian newcomers are UBB-Alico Life Insurance Company, SiVZK and Alico Bulgaria Life Insurance Company. They ranked 78th, 84th and 100th , respectively. The newcomers from Romania were Lig Insurance, Gothaer Asigurari Reasurari and Pool-ul de Asigurare Impotriva Dezastrelor Naturale, taking 72nd, 76th and 79th positions in the ranking, respectively.

Serbia’s UNIQA Life Insurance (95th), Macedonia’s UNIQA (96th) and Montenegro’s Uniqa Nezivotno Osiguranje (99th), all part of Austrian insurance group UNIQA, also made their debut in the regional ranking. The spike in the number of UNIQA subsidiaries that made the list was the result of a deal signed in October 2013 for the acquisition by the Austrian group of the business of Swiss-based Baloise Group in Croatia and Serbia as part of a push for a bigger SEE footprint.

Romania was the market with the biggest presence in the 2013 edition of the SEE TOP 100 insurers ranking, notching up 21 entrants, one less compared to the previous year. The Bulgarian entries rose by two to rank the market second – just one company short of the top-placer. The Croatian companies that made it into the 2013 ranking fell by one from the previous year to 16, ensuring the no.3 ranking for that market.

* full-year data was not available for six companies in 2013 and two in 2012