Top SEE insurers mark another year of records, units of Germany’s ERGO storm ranking

by Mario Tanev

Against the backdrop of political and regulatory uncertainty, consistently low-interest rates and increased competition, the top insurers in Southeast Europe (SEE) booked record high gross written premiums (GWPs) and net prof- it for a second straight year in 2017. The top 100 insurers generated 7.5 billion euro in GWP in 2017, as 79 of them saw an increase in their GWP, including 31 that posted double-digit growth. The major insurers in the region also managed to grow their combined profit by an annual 10.2% to a record-high 397.9 million euro. There are five new entrants in this year’s edition of the ranking, three of which are units of Germany’s ERGO, part of Munich Re insurance group – ERGO Asigurari de Viata in Romania, ERGO Osiguranje in Croatia and ERGO Versicherung AG – Branch Slovenia.

ERGO’s units ranked highest among new members, with ERGO Asigurari de Viata taking the 47th place on the back of a 66.6% rise in GWP to 32.8 million euro in 2017.

Once again, Slovenian giant Zavarovalni-ca Triglav topped the ranking, following a 4.86% growth in GWP to 621.9 million euro – nearly as much as the next two insurers in the ranking combined. In 2017, the company operated in a more favourable macroeconomic environment in Slovenia but faced fierce competition on the local market.

Despite the growth in GWP, Zavarov-alnica Triglav posted a 17% drop in net profit, which totaled 62.5 million euro in 2017. The insurer’s gross claims paid rose 5% on the year to 411.3 million euro, following a significant increase in natural disaster-related claims.

Slovenian peer Zavarovalnica Sava kept its second place with 363.8 million euro of GWP in 2017, up 5.45% year-on-year. Croatia Osiguranje outpaced both Zavarovalnica Triglav and Zavarovalnica Sava in terms of GWP growth but remained in third place with 328 million euro of GWP, 8.34% higher than in 2016.

Slovenian members of the ranking came first both in terms of GWP and net profit in 2017. Insurers in the country grew their GWP by an annual 2.8% to 2.06 billion euro in 2017, equal to 27.6% of the combined GWP of all 100 members.

Despite the rise in GWP, insurers in the country cut their combined net profit by 9.4% to 129.1 million euro, following a year marked by a number of extreme weather events.

Slovenian insurer Modra Zavarovalnica posted the highest rise in GWP last year, booking a 76.65% increase to 29.2 million euro and climbing to 57th place from 78th in 2016.

The Romanian market kept its second place in the 2017 ranking, despite a 0.65% drop in GWP of local insurers. Romani-an members generated 1.99 billion euro of GWP in 2017, equal to 26.6% of the combined figure for the top 100.

Romanian insurers grew their combined net profit by a massive 51.8% in 2017, largely due to a significant improvement of the country’s three highest ranked members – City Insurance, Allianz – Tiri-ac Asigurari and Euroins Romania Asigu-rare Reasigurare.

Romania’s Eurolife ERB Asigurari de Via-ta is the top mover in this edition of the ranking, gaining 21 spots to 74th place.

In terms of M&A activity, 2017 saw a number of insurers consolidate their holdings in SEE subsidiaries. Austrian insurers Vienna Insurance Group and UNIQA completed buyout bids for their units in Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina, respectively, while Triglav INT Group launched a buyout bid for Triglav Osiguruvanje Skopje. Bulgaria’s Euroins Insurance Group (EIG) was particularly active on the M&A front. The company consolidated its holdings in Sofia-based Euroins via a buyout bid and subsequently reached a deal to acquire a 49% stake in Russia’s RSO Euroins. At the same time, EIG’s unit Euroins Romania Asigurare Reasigurare acquired the non-life insurance portfolio of ATE Insurance Romania, a subsidiary of Greece’s Piraeus Bank.

METHODOLOGY

SEE TOP 100 insurers is a ranking of the largest insurers (excluding reinsurers) in Southeast Europe in terms of gross written premium from non-consolidated income statements for 2017. To allow comparison, all local currencies have been converted into euro, using the central banks’ official exchange rates on the last working day of 2017 and 2016, respectively. Local currency figures have been used when calculating year-on-year changes. All data is sourced from central banks, national commercial registers, financial supervision commissions, insurance associations, government and corporate websites, and companies themselves. The initial pool of companies exceeds 200 insurers.