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Swiss private insurance industry: a return to profitability

Zurich (ots)

The Swiss Insurance Association (SIA) calculates
that the private insurance sector returned to profitability in 2003.
The insurance industry seems to have come through the worst of a
rather turbulent period, nevertheless, any talk of having turned the
corner is still premature. There are several factors pointing to a
recovery: most insurers' investment returns rose over the past year,
underwriting results (particularly in non-life) improved and, in some
cases, good combined ratios were achieved. However, insurers are
still faced with some major challenges. Their capital strength has
been stretched and some of the parameters in FSOPP-related business
do not reflect the reality of the situation. Furthermore,
underwriting results in several lines are still negative and the
financial markets are showing signs of volatility.
The SIA estimates that, due to the generally satisfactory claims
situation, premium volume in Swiss non-life business rose by
approximately 5% from CHF 18.4 billion to CHF 19.3 billion in 2003.
Swiss life business, however (group and individual) incurred a drop
in premium income of 4%, from CHF 34.6 billion to CHF 33.2 billion.
Group life business volume is estimated to have remained unchanged,
whereas individual life business results proved disappointing.
Preliminary SIA estimates indicate a drop of 12% from CHF 11.3
billion to CHF 9.9 billion. The fall in single premium business was
particularly severe.
Albert Lauper, the SIA Chairman, outlined the priorities for the
coming year as being an overall improvement in non-life claims and
expense ratios and the achieving of a highly-developed approach to
risk management. Further priorities include improving transparency
and the level of communication in the industry. Joe Bättig, Chairman
of the SIA Life Committee and CEO of La Genevoise, highlighted the
need for reform in the occupational pension system. He requested the
introduction of a compulsory model for establishing the minimum
interest rate, based on 60% of the rolling average for 10-year
federal bonds and a conversion rate based on realistic actuarial
principles. Lucius Dürr, CEO of the SIA, added his voice to the
debate on gender-specific premiums. So-called unisex premiums would
contravene the principle of risk-based premiums and freedom of
contract and would ultimately act against the interests of the
insured parties.


Margrit Thüler
Head of Communications
Swiss Insurance Association
phone +41/1/208'28'28
fax: +41/1/208'28'14

You can find a copy of this media release, the speeches given and
photographs of the speakers at