Earnings improved overall, and a number of players saw materially higher profits in the absence of pandemic-related losses

The positions of the top 10 European insurers have remained unchanged in AM Best’s ranking of the 30 largest European insurers, with Allianz and AXA maintaining their dominance.

Based on 2021 gross written premium (GWP), the data shows that most companies in the ranking returned to growth, with total GWP 10.8% higher than the aggregated figure for 2020. Many of the insurers reported double-digit growth.

The five largest participants accounted for around half of the total GWP written by the top 30, with the 10 largest accounting for around 73%. Allianz and AXA—both predominantly retail focused—are the two largest participants, and accounted for just under a quarter of total GWP. Most European insurance markets are relatively competitive.

Many of the insurers in AM Best’s ranking reported materially better results than the year before, driven mainly by the absence of adverse developments from COVID-19-related claims, which had negatively impacted many of the market participants’ 2020 results.

While lockdowns continued to feature in 2021, this did not lead to significant claims, as insurers acted quickly to tighten contract wordings and update pandemic exclusions. In addition, insurers’ reserves for COVID-19-related claims have so far proved to be conservative and reserve strengthening was typically not required in 2021.

European insurers, for which motor business dominates, continued to see a positive effect on technical performance due to lower claims frequency during the periods of lockdown and semi- lockdown throughout the year.

AM Best also notes that the rate strengthening carried out over the last few years by commercial and specialty lines insurers is starting to manifest itself in the form of improved technical profitability.