All articles by Stafford Thomas

Stafford Thomas

SA Insurers face ‘mountain of regulation’

Regulatory and reporting changes have towered above other challenges facing insurers in South Africa, according to a study undertaken for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) by Brian Metcalfe, associate professor in the Business School at Brock University, Canada. Published in June 2012, the study included a survey of 30 of the largest life, general and foreign reinsurance companies in South Africa.

Countdown to regulatory storm

Destined to be the blueprint for insurance regulation worldwide, the European Unions (EU) Solvency II regime is tantalisingly near Implementation of sweeping changes across the EUs 27 member states is set for 1 January 2014, but whether this deadline will be met is fraught with uncertainty.

Two decades of dramatic change

While there are many aspects to the change that have occurred in the Australian life market over this period, the shift in its ownership structure and consolidation stand out as being amongst the most significant. Back in 1990, Australias 55-member life insurance industry was still characterised by the significant presence of mutual insurers of which there were seven holding a combined share of premium income of just over 40%.

Australia looking for a break after 3 bad years

The premium income of Australias life insurance industry has been on the decline for three years, with only risk business in a grossly underinsured market providing some glimmer of hope Now, even risk business faces the threat of a setback thanks to a sharp fall in the housing market and regulatory reform. There was little respite for Australia life insurance industry as a whole in 2010 with total premium income sliding 5.5% compared with 2009 to A$36.03bn ($39.5bn), according to data from Australian actuarial and research firm Plan For Life (PLF)

Insurers looking to Africa for growth

South Africas life insurance industry weathered the global financial crisis well, with premium income sustaining only a minor setback South Africas life insurance industry did not escape the impact of the global financial crisis entirely, but compared to damage done in many other markets it weathered it well.

Aegon in round two of restructuring

Hammered by the financial crisis, Aegon has made solid progress in restoring its financial stability, including repaying a third of the assistance extended to it by the government of the Netherlands Aegon CEO Alexander Wynaendts has unveiled a strategy aimed at accelerating the restructuring the Dutch insurers global operations over the next five years in move designed to increase profitability and reduce risk.

Online channel leaps to the fore

In a world where consumers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, using the internet to manage financial affairs is fast gaining in popularity Insurance buyers are increasingly turning to the internet, a trend Accenture strongly advises will demand a reassessment of distribution strategies

Shareholders to bail out UK’s top bancassurer

Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), the UKs largest bancassurer, has received shareholder approval to proceed with a £13.5 billion ($21.6 billion) rights issue, the worlds largest. The rights issue follows a £4 million rights issue in May this year and forms part of a £22.5 billion capital raising exercise that includes a £9 billion swap of bonds into enhanced capital notes and equity. The latest rights issue, in which shareholders will be offered 1.34 new ordinary shares for every one share held, and bond swap will enable LBG to avoid making use of the British governments onerous asset protection scheme.

Munich Re to launch buy-out of Ergo minorities

Moving to streamline its primary insurance operations, Munich Re is to make a compulsory offer to buyout minority shareholders in its Ergo life, health and general insurance business unit. This action has been made possible by the purchase of Ergo shares from German bank HypoVereinsbank, a move that increased Munich Res stake in Ergo from 94.7 percent to over the 95 percent threshold required for compulsory minority buyouts.

A new look for the US VA market

Though US individual variable annuity (VA) sales ended 2009 on a slightly better note than the previous year, data from research and consulting firm LIMRA provides little convincing evidence that a sustainable recovery is underway.