According to Allianz SE, nearly half of global premium growth in 2016 can be attributed to China. Global insurance premiums were up by 4.4 per cent last year, reaching over €3,600 billion, with nearly 50 per cent of this driven by rapid developments in China. Western Europe, conversely, is ‘stagnating’, according to Allianz, due to a faltering life insurance business. Without China, said the company, global insurance would have achieved only 2.7-per-cent growth.
This ‘China effect’, according to Allianz’s data, was particularly notable in the life insurance segment – 2016 saw China’s life insurance market report 30-per-cent growth, the highest growth rate seen since 2008. However, ‘this does not signal the end of China’s catch-up process’: “After all, just like their Chinese neighbours in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where the penetration rates top the international league table at 15 per cent and 16 per cent respectively, the mainland Chinese are also having to set an increasing amount of money aside for old age.” China’s dominance was also partly due to a general slump observed in global life insurance markets – in Western Europe, for example, premium income dropped by approximately 1.2 per cent last year, the first time such a negative trend has been observed in nearly five years.