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UNIQA Insurance Group AG (UNIQA) has again significantly exceeded the increased forecast for the year of €330 million to €350 million in earnings before taxes communicated in July 2021. "We had an extremely successful 2021 with outstanding business performance, highly pleasing development in profitability and strong investment results. Despite exceptionally heavy costs of over €300 million gross caused by major claims and natural disasters, we improved our combined ratio to 93.7% and continued on our growth trajectory, particularly as a result of the successfully completed integration of the former AXA companies in CEE,” said Andreas Brandstetter, CEO UNIQA Insurance Group AG.
Total premiums written by the UNIQA Group (including savings portions) increased by 14.2 per cent to €6,358.0 million in 2021. Premiums written by UNIQA Austria increased by 2.1 per cent to €3,916.6 million in the last financial year. At UNIQA International, premiums written rose by 42.1 per cent to €2,423.3 million following the first-time integration of the AXA companies. The UNIQA Group’s underwriting result was up by 167.2 per cent to €209.2 million in 2021 on account of an improved cost ratio and the favourable losses figure. Operating earnings increased by 137.4 per cent to €588.0 million. Accordingly, UNIQA’s earnings before taxes increased sevenfold year-on-year to €382.3 million.
Continued focus on innovation, digitalisation and sustainability
“Our strategy programme “UNIQA 3.0 – Seeding The Future”, with the clear aim of tangibly improving our customers’ health and wellbeing, is already showing initial signs of success. We intend to become more customer-focused and efficient in all 18 markets in order to further improve our profitability. Obviously, this is also set to be reflected by a progressive dividend policy. Consequently, the Management Board will propose to the Annual General Meeting that a dividend of 55 cents per share be paid – compared with 18 cents per share in both 2019 and 2020 – bring us back into line with the pre-coronavirus period and the level of the 2018 financial year of 53 cents per share,” added Brandstetter. Along with strict cost discipline and the transformation of the corporate culture, there is a continued focus on comprehensive investment in digitalisation, IT and data as well as the strategically important field of healthcare. The long-term aim is to become a holistic healthcare provider with innovative products and services above and beyond pure insurance – in particular with the subsidiary SanusX.
In addition, there is the Group’s clear commitment to sustainability in all areas, and to the goal of climate neutrality by 2040 in Austria and by 2050 worldwide. In addition to numerous other cooperations and memberships, UNIQA has entered into a strategic partnership with the leading climate network Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance and has thus undertaken to provide detailed reporting on its progress in the field of sustainable investment.
Outlook for 2022
In the last two years, UNIQA has demonstrated that its core business is highly resilient despite the pandemic. UNIQA expects premiums to remain unchanged or to rise in 2022 and envisages a combined ratio at around the level of 2021. On account of the business performance last year, the development of and focus on ongoing optimisation of the underwriting result and further steps to implement the growth programme “UNIQA 3.0 - Seeding the Future”, UNIQA is optimistic with regard to 2022.
This outlook assumes that the macroeconomic developments do not deteriorate significantly over the year, there is no serious turbulence on capital markets, and claims from natural disasters are in line with the average for previous years. In view of the highly tense political situation between Russia and Ukraine, all expectations for the 2022 financial year are subject to considerable uncertainty. Therefore, it is currently hard to forecast further impacts of the political crisis on macroeconomic developments in Europe in particular, the assessment of future ECB policy, reactions on the capital markets and the development of inflation.
Preliminary key Group figures for 2021 in detail
Total premiums written by UNIQA increased in 2021 – taking account of the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance – by 14.2 per cent to €6,358.0 million (2020: €5,565.3 million). As far as insurance based on recurring premiums was concerned, there was a gratifying increase of 13.4 per cent to €6,207.8 million (2020: €5,472.2 million).
UNIQA grew in line with its strategy in 2021: premiums written in property and casualty insurance grew by 15.9 per cent to €3,489.5 million in 2021 (2020: €3,010.3 million). In the reporting period, premiums written in health insurance rose by 5.0 per cent to € 1,226.5 million (2020: €1,167.6 million). In life insurance, premiums written – including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance – increased by 18.3 per cent in total to €1,642.0 million (2020: €1,387.5 million).
Retained consolidated insurance benefits saw a smaller upturn than premium income earned, rising by 11.1 per cent to €4,104.2 million (2020: €3,694.6 million).
The loss ratio after reinsurance in property and casualty insurance decreased to 61.3 per cent in 2021 (2020: 63.2 percent) on account of a favourable trend in basic losses, despite significant losses caused by natural disasters and major claims. At around €94 million, losses caused by natural disasters were well above the average of recent years. However, in vehicle insurance in particular, there were declining claims expenses because of decreased mobility in 2021 in connection with COVID-19. Consequently, due to the lower cost ratio at Group level, the combined ratio after reinsurance improved strongly to 93.7 per cent (2020: 97.8 per cent).
Total consolidated operating expenses less reinsurance commissions received and profit shares from the reinsurance business increased in financial year 2021 by 5.2 per cent to €1,648.5 million (2020: €1,566.4 million). Other operating expenses included here fell by 1.9 per cent to €619.4 million (2020: €631.5 million). Expenses of around €60 million were incurred in connection with the innovation and investment programme (2020: around €62 million).
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 – decreased in the past year to 27.4 per cent (2020: 29.4 per cent), partly because of the initial success of the cost program.
The investment portfolio of the UNIQA Group (including investment property, financial assets accounted for using the equity method and other investments) decreased in the 2021 financial year by 2.4 per cent to €21,785.0 million (31 December 2020: €22,319.2 million).
Investment income increased by 28.2 per cent to €648.0 million (2020: €505.4 million). This was mainly because of purchase prices from equity funds, fixed-income securities and, to a lesser extent, gains from selling properties. Investment income was negatively affected by currency effects of €8.8 million.
The UNIQA Group’s underwriting result was up by 167.2 per cent to €209.2 million in 2021 on account of an improved cost ratio and the favourable losses (2020: €78.3 million). Operating earnings increased by 137.4 per cent to €588.0 million (2020: €247.6 million).
Accordingly, UNIQA’s earnings before taxes increased almost sevenfold to €382.3 million (2020: €57.1 million).
Consolidated net profit (net profit for the period attributable to the shareholders of UNIQA Insurance Group AG) was €314.7 million (2020: €19.4 million). As a result, earnings per share increased to €1.03 (2020: €0.06).
Equity attributable to the shareholders of UNIQA Insurance Group AG decreased in the past financial year by €146.5 million to €3,303.6 million (31 December 2020: €3,450.1 million). This was due to the decline in valuation of financial instruments held for sale on account of the increase in general interest rates. Non-controlling interests amounted to €19.7 million (31 December 2020: €24.8 million). The Group’s total assets reached a level of €31,547.8 million on 31 December 2021 (31 December 2020: €31,908.0 million).
The average number of employees at the UNIQA Group increased to 14,849 in 2021 following the incorporation of the former AXA CEE companies (2020: 13,408).
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.
UNIQA GroupThe UNIQA Group is one of the leading insurance companies in its core markets of Austria and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Around 22,400 employees and exclusive sales partners serve almost 16 million customers across 18 countries. UNIQA is the second largest insurance group in Austria with a market share of about 21 per cent. In the CEE growth region, UNIQA is present in 15 markets: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. In addition, insurance companies in Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also part of the UNIQA Group.
© UNIQA Group 2021