Insurance corporations are financial intermediaries which offer direct insurance or reinsurance services, providing financial protection from possible hazards in the future.
Under an insurance policy, the insurance corporation undertakes to compensate the policyholder for losses caused by a pre-defined event against a fee, or “premium”.
Typically, insurance corporations may cover specific kinds of events.
- In the case of life insurance policies the event is usually the death or a deterioration of the health of the insured person. Life insurance contracts are often held to save money over a longer time span and sometimes for retirement.
- Non-life insurance policies protect against risks of financial loss. They cover expenses the policyholder incurs from damages to health or property (policies typically offered are medical expenses, or house, motor vehicle and fire insurance), and financial losses like a loss of income.
- A special case of non-life insurance is reinsurance. Under a reinsurance contract an insurance corporation agrees to take on the risk related to a policy held by another insurance corporation against a premium. If a payment obligation arises, the reinsurance corporation has to pay.
Why are they important?
Insurance policies are an important cornerstone of many households’ income and wealth in Europe. Insurance corporations also play an important role in financial markets as institutional investors and investment targets. For these reasons, the ECB collects statistical data on the balance sheets and other financial information of insurance corporations for its analyses of the financial system and household wealth.
Insurance corporation statistics
Our insurance corporation statistics combine data on insurance corporations in euro area countries in one harmonised set of statistics.
The statistics show separate information according to the insurance corporations’ operating license. This split results in four reporting sectors: reinsurance, life, non-life and composite insurance. Reinsurance corporations can only engage in (life and non-life) reinsurance business. Composite insurance corporations hold both life and non-life operating licenses.
Data on insurance corporations are divided into three sections: 1) balance sheet; 2) premiums, claims and acquisition expenses; and 3) large insurance groups.
- The balance sheet section presents the assets and liabilities data for reinsurance, life, non-life and composite insurance corporations, as well as more detailed data for the insurance corporation population as a whole (“total insurance corporations”).
- The asset section provides information on the holdings of insurance corporations: it shows the investments of the paid premiums and other liabilities, as well as loans provided. It also shows the claims that insurance corporations might have against other parties – for example claims against reinsurance firms resulting from reinsurance contracts.
- The liabilities section provides information on claims against euro area insurance corporations. These liabilities mainly consist of the funds (“insurance technical reserves”) that insurance corporations have put aside to fulfil their future payment obligations towards policyholders. Liabilities also include insurance corporations’ equity, loans received and other financial obligations.
- The premiums, claims and acquisition expenses section presents financial data that is closely related to the insurance policies. Premiums refer to the payments policyholders regularly transfer to the insurance corporation in order to be covered in the event of losses. Claims incurred, or simply claims, are the financial obligations arising from both insurance and reinsurance. Acquisition expenses relate to the costs an insurance corporation incurs when issuing new contracts.
- The large insurance groups section contains data collected from approximately 90 insurance groups operating in the European Economic Area (EEA) under the Solvency II regime. These data consist of indicators and growth ratios that the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) compiles for the purpose of monitoring financial stability.
Data and reporting
For detailed information on the available insurance corporations data series and the relevant reporting framework, see Data and reporting.