Zurich has announced property and casualty (P&C) gross written premium (GWP) growth of 14%, or 9% on a like-for-like basis to more than $11 billion for the first quarter of 2021, supported by higher premium rates in all regions and driven by commercial insurance.
Overall, rate changes in P&C came in at 7% for Zurich in the opening quarter of the year.
In Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), GWP increased by 16%, or 5% on a like-for-like basis to $6.2 billion for Q1 2021 compared with the prior year quarter, with a rate change of 5%. Growth here was driven by commercial insurance, notably in Germany, Switzerland and the UK.
North America premiums increased by 17%, or 16% on a like-for-like basis to $3.9 billion for Q1 2021, with crop insurance contributing over 50% of the growth. With a rate change of 14%, North America increases remained in double-digits for the fifth consecutive quarter.
In Asia Pacific, premiums increased by 2% to $782 million. However, on a like-for-like basis, premiums declined by 1%. The insurer notes lower sales in travel insurance due to COVID-19 restrictions that were only partially offset by growth in Japan and Malaysia.
Lastly, in Latin America, premiums declined by 9%, or increased by 5% on a like-for-like basis to $574 million for Q1 2021, benefiting from growth in commercial insurance and Zurich Santander.
Zurich notes that the first quarter of the year saw a relatively elevated level of natural catastrophe and weather losses, mainly as a result of winter storm Uri. Assuming a normal level of cat activity for the rest of 2021, Zurich expects Uri to add roughly one percentage point to the usual level of cat losses in the full-year combined ratio.
George Quinn, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), commented: “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. 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.”
In the carrier’s Life operation in Q1 2021, new business annual premium equivalent (APE) declined by 4% on a like-for-like basis to $919 million, reflecting lower sales in corporate life and pensions and annuity products.
The new business margin increased by 8.1 percentage points to 31.8%, or 31.7% on a like-for-like basis. At the same time, new business value increased by 21% on a like-for-like basis, driven by the more favorable sales mix in EMEA and Asia Pacific and higher sales volumes in Latin America. On a reported basis, NBV increased by 23%, reports Zurich.