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In the first six months of the 2021 financial year, UNIQA Insurance Group AG (UNIQA) generated earnings before taxes of nearly €216 million. Premiums written rose by 17 per cent in the first half of 2021. This is predominantly due to the successful integration of the former AXA companies in CEE, but in Austria, too, UNIQA increased premiums by almost 2 per cent. “Our Group’s underwriting result developed positively in the first half of 2021. Despite significant strains caused by hailstorms, storm damage and flooding ‒ particularly in Austria and the Czech Republic ‒ we improved the combined ratio to an encouraging figure of 92.6 per cent. 2021 marks the first year of implementing our ‘UNIQA 3.0 – Seeding the Future’ growth programme, and we are seeing pleasing development in our profitability, particularly in property and casualty insurance and in health insurance. The first six months of 2021 have been a successful milestone along the road as we work towards substantially improving the health and prosperity of our customers,” said Andreas Brandstetter, CEO of UNIQA Insurance Group AG.
There was a significant improvement in the investment result year-on-year as it rose from €215 million to €307 million. While write-downs on shares and fixed-income securities caused some heavy losses in the first half of 2020, in the first six months of 2021 UNIQA made gains from investments in shares and bonds in a strong capital market environment. “Our cost programme in Austria is on target and the integration of the former AXA companies in CEE is showing great promise as well. This, together with the excellent results for the first half-year, prompted us to raise our outlook for the year as a whole as early as July. We are anticipating earnings before taxes of €330 million to €350 million for the 2021 financial year,” Brandstetter continued.
Under the ‘UNIQA 3.0 – Seeding the Future’ strategy programme, UNIQA has set itself ambitious growth targets for 2021 through to 2025. Average annual premium growth of 3 per cent, a reduction in the cost ratio to 25 per cent, a combined ratio of around 93 per cent on a sustained basis by 2025 and a return on equity that is consistently above 9 per cent form the basis of progressive dividend growth. The programme is underpinned by an explicit customer focus and by maintaining high investments in digitalisation, IT and data. The first milestones have already been achieved with the successful integration of the AXA companies in CEE, a reduction in the cost ratio, the transformation of the corporate culture and the focus on innovations in disruptive business models.
Key Group figures – January to June 2021 in detail
Premiums written by the UNIQA Group – including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance – rose by 17.1 per cent to €3,310.0 million in the first half of 2021 due primarily to the first-time consolidation of the AXA CEE companies (January to June 2020: €2,827.8 million). While recurring premiums grew by 16.3 per cent to €3,239.2 million (January to June 2020: €2,784.8 million), single premiums in life insurance climbed by 64.7 per cent to €70.8 million (January to June 2020: €43.0 million). Premiums earned – including the net savings portion of premiums from unit- and index-linked life insurance totalling €160.1 million (January to June 2020: €152.9 million) – rose by 15.1 per cent to €2,983.2 million in the first half of 2021 (January to June 2020: €2,592.7 million). Retained premiums earned (in accordance with IFRS) increased by 15.7 per cent to €2,823.1 million (January to June 2020: €2,439.8 million).
In the first six months of 2021, premiums written in property and casualty insurance grew by 19.9 per cent to €1,877.4 million (January to June 2020: €1,565.4 million).
Premiums written in health insurance rose by 5.0 per cent to €615.2 million in the reporting period (January to June 2020: €585.8 million). Premiums written in life insurance – including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance – increased by 20.8 per cent in total to €817.5 million in the first six months of 2021 (January to June 2020: €676.7 million). The key driver behind this performance was the first-time consolidation of the AXA companies in CEE. Single premiums went up by 64.7 per cent to €70.8 million in the first half of 2021 (January to June 2020: €43.0 million).
The total amount of retained insurance benefits of the UNIQA Group increased at a slower rate than growth in premiums earned in the first half of 2021, growing by 11.4 per cent to €2,050.3 million (January to June 2020: €1,840.0 million). This meant that, despite heavy losses due to the weather, the loss ratio after reinsurance fell by around €45 million to 62.2 per cent in the first six months of 2021 (January to June 2020: 64.3 per cent). The combined ratio after reinsurance improved to 92.6 per cent (January to June 2020: 96.7 per cent).
Total operating expenses less reinsurance commission received rose by 12.3 per cent to €802.5 million in the first six months of 2021 (January to June 2020: €714.4 million). Acquisition expenses increased by 10.5 per cent to €495.8 million (January to June 2020: €448.6 million). Reinsurance commission received of €11.0 million was already deducted from acquisition expenses (January to June 2020: €8.0 million). Other operating expenses (administration costs) rose by 15.4 per cent to €306.7 million in the first half of 2021 as a result of the first-time consolidation of the AXA companies in CEE (January to June 2020: €265.8 million). This includes costs in connection with the innovation and investment programme amounting to roughly €24 million (January to June 2020: roughly €34 million).
The total cost ratio – the ratio of total operating expenses to premiums earned including the net savings portion of premiums from unit- and index-linked life insurance – less reinsurance commission received decreased to 26.9 per cent (January to June 2020: 27.6 per cent).
The investment portfolio of the UNIQA Group (including investment property, financial assets accounted for using the equity method and other investments) shrank as at 30 June 2021 compared with the end of the previous year to €21,903.8 million (31 December 2020: €22,319.2 million).
Investment income increased by 42.8 per cent to €307.2 million in the first half of 2021 (January to June 2020: €215.1 million). While write-downs on shares and fixed-income securities pulled down investment income in the first half of 2020, in the first six months of 2021 UNIQA made gains from selling shares and fixed-income securities worth around €69 million in a strong capital market environment. Investment income was impacted by currency effects of approximately €5 million.
The UNIQA Group’s underwriting result jumped by 194.1 per cent to €111.1 million in the first half of 2021 predominantly on account of the improved loss ratio in property and casualty insurance (January to June 2020: €37.8 million). Operating earnings grew by 224.3 per cent to €277.0 million (January to June 2020: €85.4 million). The UNIQA Group’s earnings before taxes went up accordingly by 289.1 per cent to €215.7 million (January to June 2020: €55.4 million).
Consolidated net profit (net profit for the period attributable to the shareholders of UNIQA Insurance Group AG) rose by 321.6 per cent to €170.7 million (January to June 2020: €40.5 million). Earnings per share were €0.56 (January to June 2020: €0.13).
The equity attributable to the shareholders of UNIQA Insurance Group AG declined to €3,340.9 million as at 30 June 2021 (31 December 2020: €3,450.1 million). The main factors behind this development were the lower valuation of financial instruments held for sale on account of higher returns and the distribution of the dividend for the 2020 financial year. The solvency II ratio was 198 per cent as at 30 June 2021 (31 December 2020: 170 per cent).
The average number of employees at the UNIQA Group increased to 14,748 in the first six months of 2021 as a result of the first-time consolidation of the AXA CEE companies (January to June 2020: 12,777).
Thanks to improved profitability in the core underwriting business, earnings before taxes for 2021 are expected to be between €330 million and €350 million.
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 groups for its core markets of Austria and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Around 23,500 employees and exclusive sales partners serve around 15.5 million customers in 18 countries. UNIQA is the second-largest insurance group in Austria with a market share of more than 21 per cent. UNIQA operates in 15 markets in the CEE growth region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. The UNIQA Group also includes insurance companies in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
© UNIQA Group 2021