Consolidated premiums written by Vienna Insurance Group reached EUR 2.7 billion in the first quarter of 2014, representing a year-on-year increase of 1.0 percent. When adjusted for exchange rate effects, the increase rises further to 2.9 percent.
Profit (before taxes) was EUR 152 million. Adjusted for exchange rate effects and the first interest payment on the subordinated debt issued in autumn 2013, profit (before taxes) rose by 2.8 percent. It is particularly satisfying to note that all Vienna Insurance Group segments and markets made positive contributions to profits.
"Vienna Insurance Group has made a strong start in 2014. Premiums recorded solid growth. A substantial reduction of more than 4 percentage points in the combined ratio confirms that the measures taken in the second half of 2013 were correct."
Peter Hagen, CEO Vienna Insurance Group
The combined ratio improved strongly to an excellent 96.4 percent. This was half a percentage point lower than the same period in the previous year. Compared to the end of 2013, the level improved significantly by 4.2 percentage points.
The Group’s financial result remained stable at around EUR 272 million. Vienna Insurance Group investments (including cash and cash equivalents) were just under EUR 30 billion (as of 31 March 2014).
VIENNA INSURANCE GROUP MARKET HIGHLIGHTS
Performance was mixed in the property and casualty segment. While the motor lines of business suffered under strong competitive pressure, the Group‘s premiums rose by 2.1 percent (unconsolidated) in the strategically attractive non-motor lines of business. Austria (+3.1 percent), Slovakia (+2.1 percent) and the Remaining Markets (+10.3 percent) are some examples of the excellent performance achieved by Group companies.
Aside from exchange rate effects, the slight overall drop in property and casualty insurance (-1.8 percent) was once again primarily due to the difficult market environment in Romania and the intentional reduction in Donau Versicherung's motor business in Italy. Adjusted for Donau Versicherung's Italian business, Austrian premiums rose by around 3 percent in this segment.
STRONG GROWTH IN LIFE INSURANCE
Premiums developed strongly in this segment. Group companies achieved an overall growth of 4.7 percent to EUR 1.2 billion. Particularly strong growth was recorded in the Czech Republic (+8.9 percent) – in spite of negative exchange rate effects – and Slovakia (+7.2 percent). In Hungary, life insurance premiums rose by more than two thirds and in Bulgaria by more than a quarter. The Baltic States also grew strongly with an increase of 36.5 percent.
In health insurance, Vienna Insurance Group generated EUR 102.6 million in premiums, representing an overall increase of 1.9 percent.
PROFITABLE IN ALL SEGMENTS AND MARKETS
In the Czech Republic, profit (before taxes) rose by 8.1 percent to EUR 51.0 million. In Poland, the Group increased profit (before taxes) by a further 4.4 percent to EUR 15.9 million. In the Remaining Markets, profit (before taxes) rose by a considerable 32.9 percent. Wiener Städtische Versicherung and s Versicherung recorded highly positive growth in profits and, as a result, made a significant contribution to the Group result. There were initial signs of improvement due to the restructuring measures implemented in the Romanian Group companies, which moved into profit in the first quarter of 2014.
"I consider the return to profitability in all segments and markets to be an outstanding achievement in the first quarter."
Cost-oriented measures reduced administrative expenses substantially in many markets (overall -7.0 percent). The expense ratio decreased by 1.5 percent in Austria and 1.4 percent in the Czech Republic.