Report examines how insurers can drive positive economic behavior while protecting society from risk
Ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty, proposed tough new regulatory regimes and risk of contagion are the biggest long-term challenges facing insurers around the world, according to a new Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study sponsored by BNY Mellon, the global leader in investment management and investment services.
As a result insurers are rethinking business processes and product ranges in order to remain competitive under new risk-based capital regimes, to meet the evolving needs of their customer base and to continue to play a beneficial role in the economy and broader society over the next two decades.
The key findings of the study - Insurers & society: Challenges and opportunities in the period to 2030 - include:
Macroeconomic uncertainty, regulation and risk of contagion - Macroeconomic uncertainty is seen by survey respondents as the main challenge facing both life and non-life insurers (36% and 39% respectively) in the period to 2030. Regulation is the second-biggest challenge facing life insurers (34%), while risk of contagion from other parts of the financial system is a major concern for non-life insurers and reinsurers (33%).
Regulators and policymakers should consider socioeconomic goals - Almost four-fifths (79%) of respondents agree that regulators should balance concerns for policyholder protection with other socioeconomic objectives, such as promoting savings, while almost half (48%) believe that policymakers should incorporate socioeconomic goals into regulators' remits. Over half (54%) believe that regulators and legislators are focusing on near-term stability at the expense of longer-term economic growth.
Paul Traynor, Head of Insurance for Europe, Middle East & Africa at BNY Mellon, said: "If, as the study suggests, insurers believe their core competence of turning financial risk into reliable income streams is being undermined by regulation, then we are at risk of a vicious circle developing in which individuals underinvest for their future and are forced to rely on the government. In turn, governments who cannot afford to bear the burden attempt to meet the shortfall, pushing up their sovereign debt to unsustainable levels. This then undermines proposed solvency regulation, which encourages insurers to hold government bonds as these are considered 'risk free'."
Monica Woodley, Managing Editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said: "While market stability and consumer protection are important goals, regulators and policymakers should not lose sight of the vital role the insurance industry plays in helping households and companies to reduce risk and save for the future. Limiting the insurance industry's ability to transform risk will have serious ramifications for future generations, leaving consumers under-insured and without inadequate private savings and pensions."
The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed 332 companies around the world including insurers, reinsurers, wealth managers and independent financial advisers to find out what immediate and long-term challenges the insurance industry faces and how insurers are responding, as well as to explore ways in which the industry will develop in the future.