Despite ongoing competition and pricing challenges in many areas of the industry, various opportunities for growth remain open to re/insurers, including new lines of business, technological efficiencies, and emerging markets, according to Ulrich Wallin, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hannover Re.
Speaking in an interview with Reinsurance News, Wallin explained that Hannover Re had continued to experience strong growth over 2018 even after suffering heavy catastrophe losses in 2017 and disappointing pricing trends at renewals this year.
“Our performance has actually been quite good,” he said. “We have had growth in the business, a benign development of claims and continued growth in our life reinsurance business. Of course, we had similar things a year ago in 2017 only to learn that we had a very active third quarter, and that’s still possible. But it is overall good.”
One factor in Hannover Re’s success has been an increase in demand for reinsurance, which has allowed it to write more business and grow its property and casualty (P&C) business by 27.5% in the first quarter alone.
A large part of the additional demand is for “capital optimisation on both the Life & Health and the P&C side, where we are helping our clients to deal with optimising their cost of capital and the volatility of the earnings” said Wallin.
Hannover Re has also been actively seeking growth opportunities by working with larger clients on a more holistic basis, and by collaborating with start-ups and other InsurTech companies to generate new business.
The company has also been leveraging technology to improve the efficiency of its internal processes, utilising tools like the ACORD standard for automatic bookings and blockchain, evidenced by its membership to the B3i Initiative.
This technological growth strategy also involves the use of softer applications called bots, which allow different IT systems to be automatically combined, rather than relying on slower manual processes.
Wallin explained: “We have for example had quite an efficiency gain when we combined the quoting of our natural catastrophe business with the controlling of our natural catastrophe aggregate exposures. This improved the accuracy of the results and also allows us to calculate the aggregate usage via real time rather than a month after the renewals.”
Furthermore, Wallin stressed that emerging markets continue to represent a huge growth opportunity for global re/insurers, with Hannover Re having substantially increased its premium income in areas like China recently, both on the Life & Health and on the P&C side.
In particular, Asian markets like India and China offer more promising areas for growth than regions where Hannover Re is already more firmly established, such as in Latin America, where on the Life & Health side it currently has the largest market share by premium.
“If you have such a large market share generating additional growth is not that easy,” said Wallin. “So we have been growing faster in Asia than in Latin America.”
In other regions that Hannover Re has identified growth opportunities, such as South Africa, Wallin noted that local currencies pose challenges due to their instability.
Companies looking to write more business in other African countries will also face difficulties due to the largely protectionist policies of many governments in the region, Wallin added.