Swiss Re reported a Group net loss of USD 878 million for 2020. Excluding USD 3.9 billion of COVID-19-related claims and reserves (pre-tax) for the year, Swiss Re’s net income was USD 2.2 billion, a material increase from USD 727 million in 2019. Based on the Group’s very strong capital position and positive market outlook, the Board of Directors will propose a dividend of CHF 5.90 per share at the Annual General Meeting on 16 April 2021.
Swiss Re’s Group Chief Executive Officer Christian Mumenthaler said: “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect communities and businesses across the globe. The start of vaccination efforts brings hope that the situation will improve soon. Our Group has gone through this crisis with confidence and strength, and in our role as a shock absorber we are doing our part to help mitigate the challenges of the pandemic and improve resilience to future systemic risks.
“From the start of the pandemic, we took a disciplined and prudent approach to building reserves as actual claims have been slow to come in. While some further COVID-19 losses are expected in 2021, we have dramatically reduced relevant exposures in P&C lines. I am very encouraged by broad-based improvements in portfolio quality and underwriting margins in P&C Re and Corporate Solutions, including in the January renewals.“
Swiss Re expects additional COVID-19-related claims and reserves in its property and casualty businesses of less than USD 0.5 billion in 2021, based on current information. The uncertainty surrounding many factors related to the pandemic remains high and may impact actual claims developments either positively or negatively.
Swiss Re’s Group Chief Financial Officer John Dacey said: “Our capital position remained very strong throughout 2020, despite the unprecedented impact from COVID-19 and an unusually high frequency of natural catastrophes. Swiss Re’s businesses continued to run without disruptions, delivering a strong underlying performance. Together with a positive outlook, this allows us to propose a stable dividend payment to our shareholders even in these challenging times.“
Swiss Re has decided to replace its 220% Group SST target ratio with a target range of 200–250%. Providing a range is more aligned with market practice. As of 1 January 2021, the Group SST ratio was within this range. The Group SST calculation includes the forward-looking estimate for ultimate COVID-19-related losses and assumes the proposed dividend payment.
Swiss Re successfully managed volatile global financial market conditions throughout 2020, ending the year with a strong ROI of 3.5%. The investment result reflects early decisive portfolio management actions to cut exposure to sectors that were vulnerable to COVID-19. Active management was balanced with preserving sustainable income by maintaining significant unrealised gains in longer-dated fixed income maturities.
P&C Re delivers strong underlying result in improving market conditions
Excluding COVID-19 claims and reserves, P&C Re’s net income was USD 1.3 billion in 2020, up from USD 396 million in 2019. The ROE, excluding COVID-19 losses, was 13.2%.
P&C Re claims and reserves for COVID-19 amounted to USD 1.9 billion for the year, resulting in a US GAAP net loss of USD 247 million. Approximately 80% of P&C Re’s COVID-19 losses represent incurred but not reported (IBNR) reserves for affirmative non-damage business interruption, cancelled or postponed events, casualty and credit & surety losses.
Natural catastrophe losses amounted to USD 1.7 billion for 2020. This was largely driven by the Atlantic hurricane season, which included a record 30 named storms, and numerous secondary perils across the globe. Large man-made losses were dominated by the Beirut port explosion in the third quarter.
The combined ratio was 109.0% in 2020. The normalised1 combined ratio was 96.9%, in line with the estimate of 97% for the full year provided at the beginning of 2020.
Successful January P&C Re renewals
P&C Re renewed contracts with USD 7.8 billion in premium volume on 1 January 2021. This represents an 11% volume decrease compared with the business that was up for renewal, reflecting the focus on underwriting quality and improved terms and conditions. P&C Re achieved a nominal price increase of 6.5% in this renewal round, more than offsetting lower interest rates and higher loss assumptions. The successful renewals allow for an improved normalised1 combined ratio estimate of less than 95% for P&C Re for 2021, compared with the estimate provided in November 2020 of less than or equal to 96%.
L&H Re with solid underlying performance supported by a strong investment result
Excluding COVID-19 claims and reserves, L&H Re’s net income was USD 855 million in 2020, supported by a strong investment result with an ROI of 3.7%. Excluding the impact of COVID-19, ROE was 10.4%.
COVID-19 losses amounted to USD 999 million in 2020, reflecting increased mortality rates in the US and the UK. Including the COVID-19 impact, L&H Re reported a US GAAP net income of USD 71 million for the period.
Net premiums earned and fee income in 2020 increased 6.8% to USD 13.9 billion, supported by large transactions, including longevity deals.
Corporate Solutions delivers strong underlying performance, with turnaround ahead of plan
Excluding COVID-19 losses, Corporate Solutions swung to a net income of USD 393 million in 2020 from a net loss of USD 647 million in 2019. The ROE was 16.5% and the combined ratio was 93.2% on this basis. This is a result of disciplined underwriting, strict expense management, continued rate increases, favourable prior-year developments and lower-than-expected large man-made losses.
The normalised2 combined ratio was 96.8%, well ahead of the estimate of 105% for the year, with five percentage points of the improvement driven by lower-than-expected man-made losses. With pruning actions and gross cost reductions announced in 2019 largely completed, Corporate Solutions will now target a normalised combined ratio of less than 97% in 2021, compared with the original 98% goal.
Claims and reserves related to COVID-19 totalled USD 943 million for the full year, resulting in a US GAAP net loss of USD 350 million. Approximately 40% of the losses were reserves for anticipated claims related to event cancellations, a line of business which Corporate Solutions exited in 2019, one third from business interruption losses, and the remainder coming mainly from credit & surety claims.
Net premiums earned were 2.9% lower at USD 4.0 billion, as portfolio pruning was cushioned by realised rate increases and higher volumes in targeted growth areas. Corporate Solutions achieved average risk-adjusted price increases of 15% in 2020.
Life Capital successfully closed ReAssure sale
As previously announced, the sale of ReAssure to Phoenix Group successfully closed on 22 July 2020. This allowed Life Capital to pay a dividend to the Swiss Re Group of USD 1.5 billion.
Life Capital reported a net loss in 2020 of USD 265 million, largely driven by continued investments into the open-books businesses. Losses related to COVID-19 were modest at USD 27 million.
Net premiums earned and fee income were USD 2.0 billion. Gross premiums written for the core business of Swiss Re’s white-label digital insurance platform iptiQ rose 76% as it increased the number of partners by 11 in 2020.
Following the successful sale of ReAssure, the Life Capital Business Unit was disbanded at the end of 2020. Corporate Solutions has assumed responsibility for elipsLife, while iptiQ is now operating as a standalone division.
Swiss Re’s Group Chief Executive Officer Christian Mumenthaler said: “We are confident in the outlook for 2021 with COVID-19 losses mostly behind us. We look forward to improving profitability in the P&C Re business as a result of our focus on portfolio quality and the favourable market environment. Our L&H Re client franchise is very strong, positioning us to grow, especially through tailored transactions. On Corporate Solutions, we are well ahead of the turnaround we set for 2021. iptiQ is delivering impressive growth, creating new partnerships and underlining our position as a technology-driven risk knowledge company.“