“After good premium growth of 3.2% in the first quarter – the lockdown began on 16 March, already towards the end of the quarter – premium income declined sharply in the second quarter. Overall, this resulted in minor growth of 0.5% in total in the first six months,” said UNIQA CEO Andreas Brandstetter of the trend in premium income. “New business was down significantly by up to 70% in April and May, but began rising forcefully once again from June. Our growth has now almost returned to pre-COVID-19 levels,” said Brandstetter.
Expenses due to COVID-19 were at their highest in property and casualty insurance, at EUR 90 million in the first half of the year. Nonetheless, the combined ratio improved to a gratifying 96.7% (first half of 2019: 97.3%).
At EUR 215 million, the investment result is down by approximately 29% on the figure for the extraordinarily good prior-year period. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis was especially pronounced on the capital markets.
“Taking into account the negative developments on the capital markets and other COVID-19 repercussions, earnings before taxes in the second quarter alone were highly satisfactory at EUR 69 million,” said Brandstetter. Over the first half of the year, earnings before taxes amounted to EUR 55.4 million in total owing to the negative result in the first quarter (minus EUR 14 million). The renewed strong contribution by the Group’s international subsidiaries in CEE was very gratifying at EUR 46 million.
“UNIQA has a sound capital position among its international peers, and this remained stable in the first half of the year in spite of the effects of COVID-19,” said Brandstetter of the strong equity situation. At 204%, the solvency capital ratio is currently well in excess of the defined target corridor of 155% to 190%.
The acquisition of the AXA subsidiaries in Poland, Czechia and Slovakia is proceeding according to plan. The EU Commission has since approved the purchase without imposing any conditions. The financing for the acquisition was secured at the start of July 2020, partly by placing a senior bond and a tier 2 green bond. Regulatory approval in the countries concerned is still pending before the transaction can close, which is scheduled for the fourth quarter. After the acquisition is complete, UNIQA will grow by around five million customers, 2,100 employees and EUR 800 million in premiums per year, rising from number seven to number five in Central and Eastern Europe.
A reliable forecast for 2020 as a whole is not possible at this time on account of the uncertainty still entailed by COVID-19.
Key Group figures – January to June 2020 in detail
Premiums written by the UNIQA Group, including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance, rose slightly by 0.5% to EUR 2,827.8 million in the first half of 2020 (January to June 2019: EUR 2,814.9 million) in spite of the limited sales opportunities due to COVID-19. While recurring premiums moved up by 0.9% to EUR 2,784.8 million (January to June 2019: EUR 2,759.8 million), single premiums in life insurance declined by a further 22.0% in line with strategy to EUR 43.0 million (January to June 2019: EUR 55.1 million). Retained premiums earned (in accordance with IFRS) increased by 0.6% to EUR 2,439.8 million (January to June 2019: EUR 2,425.1 million).
In the first six months of 2020, premiums written in property and casualty insurance grew by 2.0% to EUR 1,565.4 million (January to June 2019: EUR 1,535.0 million). Premiums written in health insurance rose by 3.1% to EUR 585.8 million in the reporting period (January to June 2019: EUR 568.1 million). Premiums written in life insurance, including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance, contracted by 4.9% in total to EUR 676.7 million in the first six months of 2020 (January to June 2019: EUR 711.8 million). The main driver behind this performance is the consistently low interest rate environment and the reduction in single premiums in line with strategy.
The total amount of retained insurance benefits of the UNIQA Group declined by 0.9% to EUR 1,840.0 million in the first half of 2020 (January to June 2019: EUR 1,857.4 million).
Total operating expenses less reinsurance commission received rose by 2.5% to EUR 714.4 million in the first six months of 2020 (January to June 2019: EUR 696.8 million). Operating expenses for acquisition dipped by 0.1% to EUR 448.6 million (January to June 2019: EUR 449.0 million). Other operating expenses (administration costs) climbed by 7.3% to EUR 265.8 million in the first half of 2020 (January to June 2019: EUR 247.8 million) as a result of higher investment and additional resources and staff requirements for strategic projects. This includes costs in connection with the innovation and investment programme of around EUR 34 million (January to June 2019: around EUR 27 million). The growth in total costs essentially relates to investment in digitisation, a new core IT system and content management system.
The total cost ratio – the ratio of total operating expenses to premiums earned, including the net savings portion of the premiums from unit- and index-linked life insurance – less reinsurance commission received rose to 27.6% (January to June 2019: 27.0%). The combined ratio after reinsurance declined to 96.7% as a result of a significantly lower loss ratio (January to June 2019: 97.3%).
Investment income fell by 29.0% to EUR 215.1 million in the first half of 2020 (January to June 2019: EUR 303.1 million). This was mainly due to write-downs on shares and fixed-income securities. Investment income was also negatively affected by currency effects and the fact that, unlike in 2019, no properties were sold in Austria in 2020.
The investment portfolio of the UNIQA Group (including investment property, equity-accounted financial assets and other investments) rose marginally to EUR 20,661.3 million as at 30 June 2020 (31 December 2019: EUR 20,624.8 million).
The UNIQA Group’s underwriting result rose by 75.0% to EUR 37.8 million in the first half of 2020 (January to June 2019: EUR 21.6 million), predominantly on account of the improved loss ratio in property and casualty insurance. By contrast, operating earnings were down by 48.0% at EUR 85.4 million (January to June 2019: EUR 164.1 million) due to the lower investment result. The UNIQA Group’s earnings before taxes declined accordingly by 59.2% to EUR 55.4 million (January to June 2019: EUR 135.9 million).
The consolidated net profit (net profit for the period attributable to the shareholders of UNIQA Insurance Group AG) decreased by 61.7% to EUR 40.5 million (January to June 2019: EUR 105.6 million). Earnings per share were EUR 0.13 (January to June 2019: EUR 0.34).
As at 30 June 2020, the equity attributable to the shareholders of UNIQA Insurance Group AG declined to EUR 3,285.3 million (31 December 2019: EUR 3,401.0 million).
The average number of employees at the UNIQA Group rose slightly to 12,777 in the first six months of 2020 (January to June 2019: 12,731).
Owing to the high level of uncertainty regarding the general economic and financial impact of COVID-19 as the year progresses, and the current development of our UNIQA 3.0 strategy programme, UNIQA anticipates that earnings before taxes for 2020 as a whole may potentially be negative. UNIQA does not intend to distribute a dividend for the 2020 financial year. No Management Board bonuses (STI) will be paid for the 2020 financial year.
This press release contains statements concerning UNIQA’s future development. These statements are estimates based on all the information available to us at the current time. If the assumptions on which they are based do not occur, the actual results may deviate from the results currently expected. No guarantee can therefore be given for this information.