Insurance industry shows signs of growing optimism despite industry challenges

By Business & Finance
15 May 2014
European Insurance Forum
Sarah Goddard, CEO of the Dublin International Insurance & Management Association (DIMA) with guest speakers from the ‘Leader’s Perspectives’ session, Patrick Manley, EMEA CEO at Zurich; Michael Mainelli, executive chairman, Z/Yen Group.

The Dublin International Insurance & Management Association (DIMA) has today welcomed key findings from a PwC survey of international insurance leaders and DIMA members that provides the sector with significant cause for optimism.

The survey results, unveiled at today’s European Insurance Forum, shows that despite greater uncertainty and complexity involved in managing the business of risk, nearly three-quarters (72%) of international insurance leaders are confident about business volume growth in the years ahead, up from 62% last year.

Sarah Goddard, CEO, DIMA, commented: “In this 25th anniversary year for the international re/insurance industry in Ireland, the sector cements its position as a leading centre both in Europe and globally, a position which is reinforced by the survey results. Ireland has long passed the “critical mass” stage of market development, but this is not a time to sit back and congratulate ourselves on our success, rather it is an opportunity to push forward to the next stages in the continuous evolution of Ireland’s market success.”

Globally, 92% of insurance CEOs are confident that their revenues will increase over the next three years.  This buoyant outlook globally and in Ireland is reflected in the fact that most industry leaders (globally: 59%; Ireland: 63%) are planning people or volume growth.

Speaking at the survey launch, Garvan O’Neill, partner, PwC Insurance Consulting Practice, said: “The immediate and longer term prospects for the insurance industry are strong.  With economies recovering, both in Ireland and globally and longer living populations, we expect to see an increased demand for business insurance as well as for pensions and savings products.  As a centre for insurance innovation, Ireland has a great opportunity to make a strong contribution to the global insurance industry.”

According to the PwC survey, the top challenge facing the insurance sector right now is the regulatory burden followed by implementing Solvency II.  Nearly three quarters (70%) of survey respondents are of the view that Ireland’s regulatory regime is more demanding when compared to other EU territories. Goddard commented: “Ireland has significantly reshaped its re/insurance regulatory system to anticipate European-wide changes coming into force in 2016. Although this has resulted in the regulatory regime being regarded as more demanding compared to other EU member states, ultimately it means Ireland is in a stronger position to meet the new regulatory structures under the ‘Solvency II’ Directive than other countries. Earlier this year, we received a European award – for the second year running – for ‘Solvency II Initiative of the Year’, reflecting Ireland’s advanced position and the huge amounts of work already undertaken here in shaping the industry’s new regulatory structure across Europe.”

The survey findings were presented today to delegates attending the 2014 European Insurance Forum, a two-day conference organised by DIMA and taking place at The Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin. Over 50 industry-leading speakers and more than 200 attendees comprising top executives from political, regulatory and insurance sectors are attending the conference.  This year’s European Insurance Forum is themed ‘Seismic Shifts: Rethinking Re/Insurance and Risk’.