On Wednesday 29 June the next edition of our World Insurance sigma will come out. This third sigma study of the year is an interesting one: it is the only comprehensive one around that looks at how insurance premiums have developed globally over the last year, examining insurance premium volumes data in 147 countries.
The sigma uses a consistent methodology and this study is based on a standard definition of the direct premium volumes of insurance companies, regardless of whether they are private or state-owned, in a large number of territories, whether they are in advanced markets or emerging. This is exciting, as it gives you a real deep dive into life and nonlife premium volumes globally and in real terms (i.e. adjusted for inflation).
The designation of the economies in this sigma as "advanced" or "emerging" is generally in keeping with the convention of the IMF. Advanced economies include the US, Canada, Western Europe, Israel, Oceania, Japan and the other advanced Asian economies (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan). All other countries are classified as "emerging".
The insurance data and estimates contained in the study originate primarily from national supervisory authorities and, in some cases, from insurance associations. Macroeconomic data was sourced from the International Financial Statistics of the IMF, Oxford Economics and IHS Global Insights.
Figures for past years are adjusted as new information becomes available, while the sigma world insurance tables are updated and published at the beginning of each year. As a reminder, the global premium volume for 2014 with global life premiums up 3.7% and nonlife premiums up by 2.9% - though this might be adjusted with the publication of the new study next week.
Now to the real nitty gritty stuff and small print.
The report is based on information concerning the premiums written for direct business by all registered insurers. This means:
1. Direct insurance premiums, including commissions and other charges, are considered prior to cession to a reinsurance company.
2. Domestic insurers – regardless of their ownership – and domestic branches of foreign insurers are regarded as domestically domiciled business units. Business undertaken by the foreign branches of domestic insurers is not regarded as domestic business.
3. Business that has been written in the domestic market includes premiums for cover of domestic risks as well as those covering foreign risks, as long as they are written by domestic insurers (cross-border business).
Life and nonlife business areas in this sigma are categorised according to standard EU and OECD conventions: health insurance is allocated to nonlife insurance, even if it is classified differently in individual countries.
Only insurance premium income from domestic risks is used to calculate insurance penetration and density. Cross-border business is not included. This has a significant effect in Luxembourg, Italy and Ireland.
Using the average exchange rate for the financial year, insurance premium volumes are converted into US dollars to facilitate comparisons between markets and regions. Where no premium data is available, the premium income in US dollars is estimated assuming a constant ratio of insurance premiums to GDP. Regional growth rates are calculated using a weighted average of the real growth rates of the individual countries. The weighting is based on the relevant premiums of the previous year in US dollars.
On Wednesday, we'll have a juicy infographic for you, which puts 2015's figures into perspective. There will also be a podcast, talking you through the key highlights. There will be a feature story on swissre.com and also be a press release on our media site, which a quick overview and some easy tables for a quick overview.
Believe it or not, Swiss Re has been producing sigma insurance research studies for almost 50 years (pretty nifty for a reinsurance group!). Sigma focuses on comprehensive information in international insurance markets and analyses of economic trends and strategic issue in reinsurance and insurance as well as financial services.
So if you are interested in some of the older reinsurance and insurance statistics, have a rummage through our archive, which has studies going back a few years. Otherwise just get in touch with our economic research & consulting team, headed by our Chief Economist Kurt Karl. Or shoot me an e-mail, I am happy to set up interviews or answer questions!
Feel free to follow the conversation on Twitter, we will be posting under #WorldSigma, or LinkedIn. If you want to be the first one to receive the next sigma publication, then feel free to sign up here.
In the meantime, check out our interactive Sigma explorer, by clicking here.