The European insurance industry is the largest in the world,1 with a 35% share of the global market in 2014. Insurance Europe, the European insurance federation, reports that its members invest over €8 500bn in the economy. French, German and UK insurers hold the largest share of investments, with a significant proportion held in government and corporate bonds.
Over 5000 insurance companies, of which 30 are large groups, operate in Europe.2 Of the nine insurers identified by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) as Globally Systemically Important Insurers (G-SIIs), five are EU-domiciled: Allianz, Aviva, Axa, Generali and Prudential plc. Together they directly employ nearly one million individuals. As many outsourced employees and independent intermediaries3 work in the sector. Bancassurance is the main life distribution channel in many European countries, whereas sales of non-life policies are dominated by agents and brokers.4
EIOPA5 reported in December that positive market sentiment had contributed to increased stability in the large EU insurance companies. As of October 2014 over 80% of the top 30 European insurance companies had a stable outlook. However, EIOPA warned that the weak macroeconomic environment, the risk of a prolonged low yield environment and credit risk would present challenges to European (re)insurers this year.6
The full briefing is available here.