"All of the key figures in our 2017 half-year report show an improvement compared to the same period last year. This demonstrates our commitment to being a stable, reliable partner for our stakeholders. We are also working consistently and efficiently on our 'Agenda 2020' management programme, which has made significant progress since the last quarter, particularly in the assistance area," said Elisabeth STADLER, CEO of Vienna Insurance Group, summarising the result at the end of the first half of 2017.
VIG generated EUR 4.97 billion in Group premiums, representing an increase of around 1% y-o-y, GWP continuing to be affected by the decrease in single-premium life insurance business (-24.4%). Excluding single-premium products, the increase was a satisfactory 5.2%, a VIG press release states.
With an improving combined ratio after reinsurance (not including investment income) at group level (96.9% compared to 97.9% in 1H2016), VIG recorded a profit before taxes of EUR 220.5 million, around 10% higher y-o-y. The financial result was EUR 488.4 million, up y-o-y by about 9%.
The Group's investments including cash and cash equivalents were EUR 36.8 billion at the end of the first half of 2017 (EUR 36.2 billion as per 31 December 2016).
The Solvency ratio at the level of stock-listed VIG was up to 224.5% for the first half year 2017 after 194.5% at year-end 2016.
Lines of business recorded gains
With the exception of single-premium life insurance, clear gains were again achieved in all lines of business. Further premium increases were recorded in the neighbouring countries of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. A very satisfactory 7.3% increase in premiums was achieved in Poland due to growth in motor, property and health insurance. Georgia, Serbia and Bulgaria recorded double-digit growth rates. In addition to a generally very positive performance, the exceptionally high premium increase in the Baltic States (+132%) was due to the first-time consolidation of the acquired company BTA Baltic this year.
Due to the restrictive underwriting policy for single-premium business, Austria recorded an overall 4.3% drop in premiums. When adjusted for single-premium business, premiums increased by 1.2%.
Positive development of key figures
The Group profit (before taxes) of EUR 220.5 million was significantly higher than the previous year result of EUR 201.3 million. The increase in profit was primarily due to improvements in the combined ratio and financial result. Romania (+62.9%) and Poland (+58.4%) recorded particularly large profit increases. This was mainly due to the measures taken for long-term improvement in the motor insurance business in both countries. Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland were among the countries making the largest absolute contributions to profit.
The combined ratio was 96.9%, one%age point below the previous year's ratio, primarily due to the positive performance achieved in Austria and Poland. The claims ratio was 65.6% and the cost ratio 31.3%.
The financial result was EUR 488.4 million, 8.7% higher than in the previous year. This was primarily due to increased income from full consolidation of the non-profit housing societies and large profits realised from the sale of shares.
As of 30 June 2017, the solvency ratio was 224.5% (31 December 2016: 194.5%). A moderate increase in the risk-free yield curve, positive market developments and the issuance of subordinated debt in the first half of the year had a positive effect on the solvency ratio at the level of stock-listed VIG.
Assistance services further expanded
VIG is also promoting the area of assistance in its "Agenda 2020" management programme. VIG is focusing on establishing its own companies in this area. "Where possible, we prefer to provide the entire value chain, all the way from offering insurance to customers, to claims handling and assistance support. Control of the claims processing process - from initial contact to payment of compensation - allows us to significantly influence and further improve service quality in our companies. In addition, selectively working together with authorised repair shops and eliminating third-party providers offers additional cost advantages," explained Elisabeth STADLER.
A new VIG assistance company has just been established in Romania. The assistance company successfully established in Bulgaria in 2015 will now also start to provide travel assistance for VIG Group companies in Macedonia and Serbia from autumn 2017. These services were previously offered by third-party providers in both countries. The services provided by VIG assistance companies are recognised in the market and have received many awards. In some countries, they are already being successfully sold to other financial companies (insurance companies, banks and leasing companies).
The first VIG assistance company was launched in 2013 in the Czech Republic. "Global Assistance" is not just the market leader, it also received the "Assistance Company of the Year" award from the Czech automobile association for the fifth time this year. The company operating in Slovakia since 2015 has been offering legal protection assistance in addition to motor assistance since the beginning of 2017. The Polish service company, "VIG Assistance", uses its own GPS technology to provide the most modern motor assistance in the Polish market.