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Once again, UnitedHealth is the world’s largest insurer ranked by NPW

11th January 2023 - Author: Luke Gallin

Over 12% growth in net premiums written (NPW) in 2021 ensured that UnitedHealth Group Incorporated remains the world’s largest insurance company when ranked by NPW, while global insurer Allianz sits atop the table when ranked by non-banking assets.

worlds-largest-insurers-2021Our directory of the World’s Largest Insurance Companies, which is based on research data from AM Best, ranks the top 25 global insurers by 2021 NPW and non-banking assets.

The data shows that for the eighth consecutive year, U.S. domiciled UnitedHealth Group is the world’s largest insurance firm in terms of NPW, which rose to USD 226.2 billion in 2021 on the back of 12.3% growth.

In fact, of the 25 companies in the list, only three grew their NPW more than UnitedHealth Group in 2021, while the average growth across the cohort stands at just over 7% for the year.

Centene Corporation moved up two places to second in 2021, driven by growth of 12.1%, resulting in NPW of USD 120.3 billion.

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Elevance Health, Inc. completes the top three with growth of 12.7% in 2021 leading to NPW of USD 117.4 billion.

So, the three largest insurers by NPW in 2021 are all based in the U.S., as Chinese firms Ping An and China Life fell from second and third, respectively, in 2020, to fifth and fourth place in 2021.

While still positive, China Life’s 2021 NPW of USD 115.1 billion reflects growth of just 1.1%. While Ping An is the only insurer ranked in the top 25 to report a contraction in NPW, which fell by 5.7% to USD 114.7 billion.

In sixth place sits Kaiser Foundation Group of Health Plans, the only other carrier to record NPW of more than USD 100 billion in 2021, as growth of 3.4% resulted in NPW of USD 106.4 billion for the year.

The top 10 also includes AXA (seventh with USD 95.7bn NPW), Allianz (eighth with USD 88.9bn NPW), People’s Insurance Co of China (ninth with USD 84.5bn NPW), and Generali (10th with USD 80.3bn NPW).

As the table shows, in terms of NPW in 2021, U.S.-based health insurers strengthened their positions.

When ranked by non-banking assets, Germany’s Allianz is once again the leading insurer, after growth of 7.2% in 2021 saw non-banking assets hit USD 1.2 trillion.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway moved up three places to second, as the conglomerate’s non-banking assets rose by 9.7%, year-on-year, to USD 958.8 billion.

Third placed Prudential Financial is one of three firms in the top 10 to report a fall in non-banking asset in 2021, although only slight at -0.3%, to USD 937.6 billion.

China’s Ping An remains in fourth place with non-banking assets of USD 936.9 billion following growth of 3.5%, while China Life saw strong growth of 13.2% in the year to USD 900.5 billion, which took the company up to fifth spot from eighth in the previous year.

French insurer AXA is another to see a decline in non-banking assets in 2021, as a 3.4% reduction to USD 846.3 billion saw the firm move from second place to sixth.

The UK’s Legal & General sits in seventh place with non-banking assets of USD 786.1 billion after growth of 2.1%; MetLife moved down two places to eighth on the list after a 4.5% dip in non-banking assets to USD 759.7 billion.

Nippon Life Insurance and Manulife Financial complete the top 10. The former saw growth of 3.3% in 2021 and recorded non-banking assets of USD 725 billion, while Manulife’s growth of 10% to USD 718.1 billion enabled it to remain in 10th place for another year.

In its analysis, ratings agency AM Best notes the fall in the rankings by non-banking assets of Japan domiciled firms, which reflects the yen’s depreciation.

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