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Thursday, Nov 26, 2015

Strengthening global economy to support insurance sector growth:

[Source : The Economic Times]

MUMBAI: The demand for non-life insurance is expected to grow by up to 9 per cent globally, with life premium forecast to rise by 4 per cent in 2016 in the emerging markets, including India, says a report.

Swiss Re's, Global Insurance Review 2015 and Outlook 2016-17, revealed the demand for non-life insurance is expected to grow at 8-9 per cent annually in the emerging markets during 2016 and 2017.

The life insurance sector faces challenges, in particular from ongoing low interest rates.

Nevertheless, it said global life premiums forecast to rise about 4 per cent in each of the next two years, which will also be led by the emerging markets.

It added that the global economy is expected to strengthen moderately next year. The emerging markets will grow by about 5 per cent in each of the next two years, an improvement on the current 4 per cent.

"Global economic growth is a good sign for insurers. This is especially so in the emerging markets, where urbanisation and growing wealth will support overall sector growth. We've said for some years now that emerging markets are the growth engines for the insurance industry - and this is expected to continue for at least several years more," Swiss Re's Chief Economist Kurt Karl said.

Non-life premium growth will improve along with economic activity and demand for primary non-life insurance should increase in the next two years, it opined.

Global primary non-life premium growth is forecast to improve to 3 per cent in 2016 and 3.2 per cent in 2017, from 2.5 per cent this year.

The growth in advanced markets is expected to fall slightly due to softening prices and only modest improvement in the economic growth, it said.

The emerging markets will be the main drivers in non-life, with premiums rising by an estimated 7.9 per cent and 8.7 per cent in 2016 and 2017, respectively, after a 5.6 per cent gain in 2015.

Premium growth is expected to be the strongest in emerging Asia (12 per cent annually), and a recovery is expected in Central and Eastern Europe after contraction in 2014 and 2015.

Despite the challenging pricing environment, underwriting profits in primary non-life insurance have been sustained by low natural catastrophe losses and a continuation of reserve releases from past years, it added.

The report further said that primary life insurers face a significant downside risks in the short-to-medium term from the modest global growth outlook, persistently low interest rates, volatility in financial markets and regulatory changes.

Nevertheless, in the advanced markets, real premium income is forecast to rise by about 2.5 per cent in 2016 and 2017, up from about 2 per cent this year.

In emerging markets, premiums are estimated to grow by 10.7 per cent in both 2016 and 2017.

This improvement will, in part, be attributable to improved use of currently available technologies, such as wearable devices and cloud computing.

Again, emerging Asia is expected to have the most robust growth of about 13 per cent each year. A key issue in many emerging markets will be the implementation of risk-based solvency regimes, it added.

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