How big an impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on one of the insurance industry’s true global giants? Zurich, at least, appears to have held strong.
In releasing its financial results today, the Switzerland-based insurance group announced that P&C gross written premiums were up by 3% over the first nine months of the year compared to the same period in 2019, standing at US$27,258 million (around AU$37,545 million). Its life business, however, took a stronger hit at US$2,573 million (around AU$3,544 million) – representing an 8% like-for-like fall on the prior year. However, the group was keen to highlight that sales recovered in the third quarter with the annual premium equivalent up 7%.
“Over the third quarter, the group continued to successfully manage the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, a global recession and a record number of hurricanes making landfall in the United States. Our priority remains the support of our customers and the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues as we continue to execute on our customer-focused strategy,” said group chief financial officer George Quinn.
“Growth in our commercial business has remained strong with further improvement in commercial pricing and underlying underwriting performance. Our life business saw a return to growth in the third quarter despite ongoing challenges for face-to-face distribution channels, while Farmers continued to execute on their strategy to improve growth.”
Breaking its P&C results down by region, the Europe, Middle East and Africa region was the strongest performer with GWP climbing 7% on a like-for-like basis, with the UK highlighted as a particularly strong performer. North America saw 4% growth, though Farmer Exchanges GWP was 3% lower due to US$311 million customer rebates during the first half.
However, there were falls in both Asia-Pacific and Latin America – down 11% and 7% respectively. It was noted that the Asia-Pac region enjoyed growth in Japan, but this was largely offset by the loss of travel insurance premiums due to the pandemic’s impact.