UK mutual insurers outperform the rest of the market

13 October 2017


The UK mutual insurance sector continued to outperform the rest of the UK insurance market in 2016, according to the latest financial research from the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF).

The Market InSights: UK 2016 report will be officially launched next week at ICMIF’s Biennial Conference in London, attended by more than 350 delegates from 147 organisations and 37 countries.

The report shows that the UK mutual sector reported a post-crisis record level of insurance premiums of GBP 19.6 billion in 2016, representing an increase of almost 10% from the previous year (2015: GBP 17.8 billion). Mutual growth exceeded the average market growth in six of the previous nine years, resulting in the mutual sector’s share of the total UK market rising from 4.4% in 2007 to 8.7% in 2016, its highest level since the 1990s. The mutual sector has performed especially strongly in recent years, reporting a market share gain of more than one percentage point over the previous three years (2013: 7.6%).

The report also highlights that there were approximately 100 mutual (including not-for-profit) insurers writing business in the UK in 2016. These insurance companies collectively employed around 27,000 people and served over 30 million members/policyholders. The majority of the UK’s oldest insurers still operating today are mutual (mostly friendly society) insurers and many have been writing business and serving their members for over 150 years.

Gina Fusco, Director of Strategy and Marketing at the nation’s largest rural insurer NFU Mutual will be speaking at ICMIF’s Biennial Conference. Commenting on the findings from the research she said:

“Mutual insurers in the UK delivered a good performance for their members and strong growth in a year of many challenges and a more uncertain environment. At NFU Mutual, our commitment to serving our customers’ long-term interests instead of generating short-term shareholder profits, underpins our solid results and sustainable growth.”

Tim Harris, Group Finance Director at the UK’s largest mutual insurer, Royal London, will also be speaking at ICMIF’s Conference. Commenting on the finding from the research he said:

“The findings of this report recognise the benefits of a diverse insurance industry and also the unique offering of the mutual sector which puts consumer outcomes firmly centre-stage. Consumers are giving our sector a vote of confidence by trusting us with their money and choosing the mutual ethos. Mutuality’s roots may stretch back long into the past but it is very much alive and growing today.”

The Market InSights: UK 2016 report was published in partnership with the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM), the UK trade body that represents mutual and not-for-profit insurers, friendly societies and other financial mutuals.

Commenting on the report, Andy Chapman, Chairman of the AFM and CEO, The Exeter said:

“The results in the latest Market InSights UK report prove how resilient the UK mutual insurance sector is now. In the last 10 years, while the UK insurance market has lost GBP 1 in every GBP 6 of premium income, amongst mutuals, we have grown premiums by two-thirds. The sector continues to promote its consumer-focused credentials, and is lobbying for rule changes that level the playing field and help maintain our impressive recent growth.”

Shaun Tarbuck, Chief Executive of ICMIF, added:

“Now that we are approaching the 10 year anniversary of the onset of the global financial crisis, it is especially encouraging to see that UK mutual insurers are continuing to grow, and at a faster rate of than the rest of the market. The consistent growth in market share is very positive, but more so is the growth in membership numbers for our sector. Over the previous five years, there has been a 13% increase in the number of members or policyholders of mutual insurers, highlighting that in the backdrop of political and regulatory uncertainty, the UK consumer is recognising the benefits of being protected by a mutual, especially in terms of their life insurance and savings business.”

The Market InSights report includes a year-on-year analysis of the premium and market share growth of the mutual sector since 2007, with comparison to the rest of the UK insurance sector. The report also includes analysis of mutual premium income by line of life and non-life business; asset growth; and a definitive list of the 30 largest mutual insurers ranked by 2016 premium income.

For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub.

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