Insurance companies in Europe had almost €9.8 trillion investments in bonds, company shares and other assets in 2015, latest data from the continent’s re/insurance federation show.
According to Insurance Europe, insurers’ investments on behalf of millions of life and non-life customers in 2015 grew by 1.7% from a year earlier.
Developments in the investment portfolio are mainly driven by the life business, with the sector’s investment holdings accounting for more than 80% of the total.
The UK (€2.15 trillion), France (€2.23 trillion), Germany (€1.75 trillion) and Italy (€692.6 billion) jointly accounted for 70% of all European life insurers’ investments.
“Investments are an integral part of the insurance business model, in which the premiums insurers receive are invested until claims or benefits become due,” Insurance Europe said.
“The insurance sector is the largest institutional investor in Europe and a key source of the investment needed to support growth in the economy.”
Figures from the industry group also revealed that total European direct gross written premiums increased by 1.3% in 2015 to reach €1.2 trillion, including €254.4 billion in the UK.
Insurance penetration slipped to 7.4%, but ranged from 0.9% in Latvia to 11.4% in Finland.
European insurers paid out €976 billion, including €248.7 billion in the UK, in claims and benefits to insureds, up by 2% from 2014.
Life insurers paid out €649 billion in benefits to insureds, while non-life claims and health benefits paid rose to €222 billion and €101 billion respectively.
“These figures underline the unique protection that Europe’s insurers provide to our society and economy,” said Michaela Koller, director general of Insurance Europe.
In 2015, the number of insurance companies operating in Europe dropped by 3.1% to 3,700. The industry employed over 975,000 people, excluding outsourced workers and independent intermediaries.
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