AXA: Everything you need to know
Corporate headquarters: 25 Avenue, Matignon 75008 Paris, France
Commercial lines revenue (2021): €32.7 billion
Personal lines revenue (2021): €16.6 billion
Size (employees): 153,000
Clients served: 105 million
Countries of operation: 54
Underwriting expertise: Property & casualty, life, and health insurance
Key people: Thomas Buberl (chief executive officer), Frédéric de Courtois (group deputy CEO), George Stansfield (group deputy CEO and general secretary), Helen Browne (group general counsel), Patrick Cohen (CEO, AXA France), Ulrike Decoene, group chief communication, brand, and sustainability officer), Georges Desvaux, chief strategy and business development officer), Scott Gunter(CEO, AXA XL), Alban de Mailly Nesle (group chief financial officer), Marco Morelli (executive chairman, AXA Investment Managers), Jacques de Peretti (senior advisor), Antimo Perretta (CEO, Europe and Latin America), Karima Silvent (group chief human resources officer), Gordon Watson (CEO, Asia and Africa)
AXA’s origins can be traced back to a small mutual insurer from Normandy – Ancienne Mutuelle de Rouen – established in the early 19th century and specialised in property and casualty (P&C) insurance. After a rather uneventful history before the 1950s, the company experienced tremendous growth under the leadership of Claude Bébéar.
The charismatic French businessman spearheaded the acquisition of several companies, some of which were twice AXA’s size. Among these were the Drouot Group in 1982, France’s leading private insurance company at that time, giving AXA, then known as Mutuelles Unies, a nationwide presence.
The company officially changed its name to AXA in 1985. This was followed by several major acquisitions, including US firm Equitable in 1991 and rival UAP, which was twice its size, five years later.
Bébéar yielded his leadership role to Henri de Castries in 2000. The succession was marked by the dot-com bubble and the 9/11 attacks, resulting in almost €650 million in losses for the company. But in 2006, with global economy recovering, AXA returned to profitable growth, allowing it to acquire the Swiss firm Winterthur and invest in emerging markets.
In 2010, the company launched Ambition AXA, its new strategy and “transformation” plan focused on taking a selective approach to mature markets, while accelerating its growth in emerging markets. Thomas Buberl and Denis Duverne took over from de Castries in 2016. Two years later, AXA acquired the XL Group, propelling the company as the top commercial P&C insurer in the world. To date, AXA builds on its robust growth in target segments and key markets, while maintaining its strong commitment to combat global warming.
Earth-friendly products and services
In line with its commitment to contribute to a “stronger, safer, and more sustainable” society, AXA’s entities in the P&C business have developed a range of product offerings and services with social or environmental added-value. These include:
- Limited mileage motor policies: These products offer policyholders “gradual discounts” depending on the distance covered. According to AXA, research has shown that such packages effectively encourage customers to use their vehicles less, resulting in reduced greenhouse emissions and claims.
- Insurance for “clean” vehicles: The market for hybrid or low-consumption vehicles has been booming in certain regions around the world. In response, many AXA entities have developed discounted policies for the types of vehicles. AXA France, for instance, offers the Libre Voiture package – an innovative model where customers are offered the use of a small urban, low-emissions vehicle during the week and a large family car over the weekend or vacations, to help reduce overall emissions without the need to purchase two cars. AXA Spain, meanwhile, offers electric scooters premium discounts. Several local entities also offer discounts for low-carbon emission vehicles.
- Environmental risk audits and modified underwriting guidelines: AXA Corporate Solutions (AXA CS) offers risk analysis and prevention services, helping clients reduce total loss experience through stronger prevention measures. AXA CS conducts hundreds of site visits each year and provides underwriting manuals that incorporate clients' sustainable development policies, with audits taking in energy and security aspects, and safety and human rights in the workplace.
- Ground pollution cover: AXA CS also offers the XS Depoll service, which aims to encourage businesses to clean up any form of pollution at their sites. The policy guarantees reimbursement of any excess costs linked to certain random aspects such as the complexity of the ground or the limited results that can be achieved with certain depollution techniques.
- Environmental damage cover: AXA CS has also developed the Ecosphere product range, which combines civil liability cover – protecting third parties on and off site – environmental liability cover, and a “damages” section to protect the policyholder’s assets. This solution aims to limit environmental damage by providing “flexible and rapid” emergency compensation measures.
- Environmental liability insurance for SMEs: AXA France Entreprises’ GREEN (Garanties des Risques Environnement de l'Entreprise) policy offers risk coverage – including civil liability, loss of business, legal protection, and support – in the event of an environmental crisis. The policy also aims to cover costs incurred by businesses for protecting the environment such as prevention, repair, and decontamination expenses. According to AXA, this policy helps prevent the ”orphan site phenomenon,” which occurs when an incident has bankrupted the business that owns the site, leaving a wasteland that poses long-term pollution problems.
- Flood-prevention solutions: AXA Insurance UK has developed a tailored consulting and insurance product offering called Climate Change & You, which focuses on flooding brought about by global warming. The group has also launched an online carbon calculator to help SMEs offset their carbon emissions. The calculator has been designed in conjunction with the Carbon Neutral Company and provides policyholders with a carbon assessment.
- Windfarms insurance: AXA Germany has supported the development of wind farms through its comprehensive lines covering the setup phase, machine breakage, loss of business and civil liability, while building up essential expertise on underwriting. AXA is now Germany's leading insurer for wind power facilities and other renewable energies.
- Renewable energy output insurance: AXA France’s Energies Nouvelles package insures environmental equipment such as solar electric and solar thermal panels, geothermal heat pumps, and wind turbines. Policyholders also benefit from additional financing if the equipment cannot be used due to an insured incident.
- Photovoltaic systems insurance: AXA Germany offers insurance policies for photovoltaic (PV) systems called EAR (Erection All Risk insurance, building phase) coverage for the installation phase and for the operation phase in the form of Electronic Equipment Insurance (EEI) and Electronic Business Interruption Insurance (EBI). These policies also cover financial losses resulting from a failure of the equipment due to an insured risk is covered.
AXA's approach to integrating long term environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into its business is based on detailed performance indicators that are reviewed every year by its local entities. These consist of:
- Strategy and commitments: Long-term balance between environment, social, and economic concerns.
- Environment and climate change: Commitment to reduce its direct impact on the environment by actively managing energy consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, and waste production.
- ESG integration: Ensuring long-term viability of the company through sound and transparent corporate governance and a culture of business ethics as part of its responsibility towards shareholders.
- Customer and products: Promoting responsible customer relations through clear and transparent communication, marketing of products, and responsible claims handling.
- Employees: Placing employee engagement at the heart of its business strategy.
- Active volunteering: Offering employees the opportunity to lend their time to support risk education and prevention.
AXA at a glance – 2021
- April 1: AXA SA’s successful placement €1 billion of subordinated green bonds due 2041, with an initial fixed coupon of 1.375% per annum
- May 31: Completed sale of AXA’s insurance operations in Greece for €200 million
- June 22: Announced sale of AXA’s insurance operations in Malaysia for €100 billion
- July 12: Announced transaction between AXA Hong Kong and Global Atlantic Assurance Limited to reinsure a closed book of whole-life insurance policies
- August 16: Announced sale of AXA’s insurance operations in Singapore for €500 billion
- September 7: Completed sale of AXA’s insurance operations in the Gulf region for €200 billion
- September 8: Completed combination of Bharti AXA General Insurance Company Limited into ICICI Lombard
- September 13: Announced buy-back of AXA shares to eliminate the dilutive impact of Shareplan 2021
- October 6: Completed sale of AXA’s shareholding of 17.5 million shares of ICICI Lombard for €3 billion
- November 4: Announced share buy-back program, including the immediate launch of up to €1.7 billion, and an intention to launch up to a further €500 billion in 2022 to offset earnings dilution from recent disposals
- November 26: Executed share repurchase agreement in relation to AXA’s share buy-back program of up to €1.7 billion as announced on November 4
- December 31: Completed sale of AXA’s banking operations in Belgium, AXA Bank Belgium, for €7 billion