Zurich has welcomed a “strong” start to its financial year, with gross written premiums largely reporting positive growth across the business in the quarter ended 31 March, 2021.
Its Property & Casualty (P&C) gross written premiums were up 14% to $11bn (£7.8bn), with a 9% growth on a like-for-like basis driven by strong growth in commercial insurance and further improvement in pricing. Total growth was also supported by higher premium rates, which were above the level in the prior-year period in all regions and driven by commercial insurance.
In EMEA, P&C gross written premiums increased 5% on a like-for-like basis, with growth driven by commercial insurance, most notably in Germany, Switzerland and the UK. Premium rates increased by 11% in commercial insurance compared with 5% in the prior-year period, while retail insurance gross written premiums were up “modestly” year-on-year, driven by improved new business and stable retention and premium rates.
While Zurich’s Life new business value was up 21% on a like-for-like basis over the period, largely driven by a favourable business mix, APE sales were down 4% on a like-for-like basis. According to Zurich, the decline reflects the lower sales in corporate life and pensions and annuity products, while unit-linked business showed “strong growth momentum”.
In EMEA, APE sales decreased by 11% compared with the same period in 2020, driven by the reduction in corporate pensions business in Switzerland due to the pandemic-related economic slowdown
Over the period, the group said there was continued delivery on its customer-focused strategy, with approximately 300,000 net new retail customers added in the first quarter.
Group CFO George Quinn said: “The group has made a strong start to the year and remained on track with its strategy and financial plans in the first quarter.
“During the quarter, the Group has taken full advantage of the hard pricing conditions in the commercial business to deliver strong growth and further improvements in the underlying underwriting performance of the P&C business.”
He added: “In Life, the group’s focus on growing higher-margin products, rather than simply increasing volume, has continued to support the performance of the business, while the Farmers Exchanges returned to growth even before the addition of the MetLife P&C business at the start of the second quarter.
“These trends, together with our very strong balance sheet, allow us to look forward to the remainder of the year with great confidence.”