ECONOMY

Insurance sector showed signs of recovery in 2003

The insurance sector recovered in 2003, according to the results posted by the 70 companies active in it. Insurance premiums increased more than 9 percent, to 2.9 billion euros. If one includes the production of subsidiaries active abroad, premiums rise to 3.2 billion euros, more than 11 percent higher than in 2002. The picture may be a good one but this does not mean that the sector is free of the doldrums. There are heightened problems, especially in the vehicle insurance sub-sector, where many smaller companies face closure, as well as among life insurance companies. Data shows a 13 percent increase in premiums in general insurance, to 1.7 billion euros from 1.5 billion in 2002. On the other hand, life insurance premiums rose by just 4.4 percent, to 1.2 billion euros. However, if we include subsidiaries active abroad, the increase is more than 9 percent and the total premiums 1.4 billion. A closer inspection of the results reveals that a single company, Alico, is responsible for most of the increase in life insurance premiums. Alico, of course, is a subsidiary of a foreign company, AIB. Its increase is mainly in group life insurance contracts. Another notable fact is the success of EFG Insurance in the bancassurance sub-sector. It more than tripled its production in 2003. Ethniki Insurance ahead Ethniki Insurance, a National Bank of Greece subsidiary, continued to dominate the life insurance sector. In second place, not far behind is Interamerican, now a subsidiary of a European firm and a large presence in the market for some 35 years. All in all, the life insurance sub-sector is one of the most concentrated. The 10 biggest companies account for 90 percent of the premiums, a number which rises if we consider that the 11th largest company, Commercial Value, is a subsidiary of Aspis Insurance. Ethniki Insurance is also the top company in general insurance and especially in vehicle insurance, with premiums of 875 million euros in 2003. Phoenix, an Emporiki Bank subsidiary, is second with 173.2 million euros and Agrotiki Insurance, an Agricultural Bank subsidiary, is third (60 million).