Sector

Insurance

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Research

THE MARKET’S PERFORMANCE IN 2024 WILL BE DETERMINED BY A DOWNTURN IN LIFE INSURANCE AND CREDIT INSURANCE AND GROWTH IN CAR INSURANCE

  • The insurance market recorded significant growth in 2023, which was driven by favorable conditions in the three largest market segments — car insurance, credit insurance, and investment and endowment life insurance. Over 9M 2023, the total volume of insurance premiums increased by more than 20%. The premium for the year is expected to be RUB 2.16 tln, which is 19% higher than in 2022.

  •  ACRA assumes that the market will slow down in 2024, with growth forecasted at 2%. This is mainly due to expectations of a decline in premiums in the credit insurance and non-credit life insurance segments on the back of the key rate hike and a likely cooling in the retail lending market.

  • Car insurance is the only major segment that is able to deliver a strong performance in 2024. This prediction is based on expectations of a further recovery of car sales, as well as continued growth of car prices. In addition, ACRA assumes that the Bank of Russia will take the next step to liberalize motor third-party liability (MTPL) insurance by widening the pricing corridor.

  • Insurance penetration in Russia is declining, although premiums are rising. The global average ratio of insurance premiums to GDP is just under 7%. The corresponding figure for Russia, according to ACRA’s estimates, decreased from 1.4% to 1.3% from 2016 to 2023.

INSURANCE PREMIUMS WILL GROW BY 19% IN 2023 AND AROUND 2% IN 2024

The Russian insurance market demonstrated high growth rates in 2023. Across three quarters of 2023, the Bank of Russia recorded a 24% increase in the volume of insurance premiums compared to the figure for the same period in 2022. It is worth noting that the standards for generating statistical reporting, on the basis of which growth rates are calculated, were changed in 2023. According to ACRA’s estimates, if the volume of premiums had been calculated as per the previous standards, growth would have been even more significant, at around 25–26%.

Such an impressive breakthrough was achieved due to the three largest market segments, which include car insurance, credit insurance, and investment and endowment life insurance. Collectively, premiums for these segments account for approximately two thirds of the total market premium. According to ACRA’s projections, the total volume of insurance premiums will be RUB 2.16 tln by the end of 2023, exceeding the result of the previous year by 19%. The Agency associates the decline in growth rates in Q4 2023 with the significant tightening of monetary policy during this period. Rising interest rates will negatively affect demand in the credit insurance and investment and endowment life insurance segments.

Figure 1. The insurance market will grow slightly in 2024


* 2023 is an estimate (data for 9M), 2024 is a forecast.
Sources: Bank of Russia, ACRA

The prospects for 2024 will largely depend on monetary policy and other macroeconomic indicators. The base case scenario at the heart of ACRA’s insurance market forecast for 2024 takes into account the assumptions listed below, which are described in detail in our macroeconomic forecast Charting a Course from November 28, 2023.

  • After recovery growth of the economy in 2023, ACRA expects GDP growth to be relatively low in 2024 and range from 0.5% to 1.3%.

  • Inflation will decline to 5.2–5.8%, thereby allowing the Bank of Russia to start reducing its key rate. The key rate is expected to be 10.5–11.5% by the end of 2024.

  • Given the stable oil prices and the positive balance of foreign trade, the weakening of the ruble in relation to key currencies will be moderate.

  • Unemployment will remain low.

  • Amid heightened interest rates and regulatory restrictions, the annual growth rates of retail lending will fall to 10% in 2024.

Under these conditions, credit insurance and investment life insurance will remain under pressure and decline compared to the indicators of 2023. At the same time, ACRA expects to see a continuation of car insurance growth. According to the Agency’s forecasts, insurance premiums for other market segments will grow slightly. General growth rates for 2024 are expected at 2%, and in absolute terms, insurance premiums will amount to about RUB 2.2 tln.

PREMIUMS FOR NON-CREDIT LIFE INSURANCE REACHED A HISTORIC MAXIMUM IN 2023 AND WILL DECLINE BY 16% IN 2024

According to ACRA’s estimates, premiums for non-credit life insurance (includes all types of life insurance and pensions, with the exception of borrower life insurance) will reach a historic maximum at the end of 2023 and range from RUB 460 to 465 bln. This result is largely due to the growth of the population’s nominal disposable income in the context of the relatively loose monetary policy in effect for most of this year. As a result, premiums for 9M 2023 amounted to around RUB 372 bln, which approximately corresponds to the amount of premiums for all of 2022 (RUB 376 bln), and is slightly lower than the previous record, which was achieved in 2018 (RUB 393 bln).

In Q4 2023, the key rate was increased to 16%; we cannot rule out a further increase. Interest rates on bank deposits also grew, which made them a lot more attractive and resulted in significant growth in the volume of funds held in these accounts. Simultaneously, the Agency expects to see the population losing interest in other investment and savings products, including non-credit life insurance contracts. ACRA projects that the volume of insurance premiums for these types of insurance will decrease to RUB 90 bln in Q4 2023, which is approximately 36% lower than the figure for Q3. Nevertheless, despite the reduction in the size of premiums, their volume at the end of 2023 will be a record for the entire history of the Russian market.

ACRA assumes that the anticipated gradual decline in the key rate (to 10.5–11.5% by the end of the year) will contribute a certain restoration of the population’s demand for non-credit life insurance. Taking this into account, the total size of insurance premiums for the specified types of insurance are expected at RUB 385–390 bln in 2024, which is approximately 16% lower than the indicator for 2023.

Figure 2. ACRA’s base case scenario assumes a decline in non-credit life insurance premiums in 2024

* 2023 is an estimate (data for 9M), 2024 is a forecast.
Sources: Bank of Russia, ACRA

ACRA estimates that the share of investment insurance will continue to decline and the share of endowment life insurance will continue to grow in the product structure of the non-credit life insurance segment. From 2012 to 2018, investment life insurance (ILI) was the main driver of the entire insurance market. According to the Agency, during this period the annual amount of premiums for this type of insurance increased from RUB 10 to 291 bln, while in the market as a whole this figure increased by RUB 667 bln (almost half of the increase was achieved through the development of ILI).

Since 2019, ILI premiums have experienced a number of sharp declines and periods of stagnation caused by regulatory restrictions. Their significant decline in 2022 was due to the freezing of assets acquired under ILI contracts held in accounts at Western financial institutions. Under these conditions, a significant share of income became unavailable to policyholders, and concluding new contracts linked to foreign assets has become impossible.

In 2023, ILI premiums again began to grow compared to the low base of 2022. Russian insurers and banks were able to adapt the ILI structure to the current realities. In lieu of access to Western markets, profitability under ILI contracts is tied to the performance of Russian financial instruments. An inflow of retail investors to the national stock market is taking place, including via investment life insurance.

However, ACRA continues to take a sceptic view of ILI’s prospects in the Russian market. In the Agency’s opinion, ILI is more of an investment product than an insurance product, while its structure is excessively complicated and therefore ineffective. This is confirmed by the low profitability on expired contracts, which is seriously inferior to the profitability of bank deposits with higher risks on the client side. Clients’ disappointment is expressed in the net outflow of funds from ILI contracts. Payouts for this type of insurance exceeded premiums by RUB 127 bln in 2022, and by RUB 79 bln over 9M 2023, while under endowment life insurance contracts the net inflow of clients funds (premiums minus payouts) was RUB 163 bln in 2022, and RUB 126 bln for 9M 2023.

Figure 3. The share of investment life insurance is gradually declining




Sources: Bank of Russia, Russian Union of Insurers, ACRA

The Russian life insurance market has substantial growth potential (this is covered in detail in the last section of this paper). At the same time, the realization of this potential has been largely undermined by the negative, in the Agency’s opinion, influence of ILI, which disappointed most policyholders. In connection with this, ACRA considers the increase in the share of endowment life insurance to be a positive trend that is capable of forming the foundation for sustainable growth of the analyzed segment in the long term.

CREDIT INSURANCE: GROWTH OBSERVED IN 2023 WILL GIVE WAY TO A FALL IN 2024

The credit insurance segment includes borrower life insurance (credit life insurance) and accident and illness insurance, where the bank borrower insurance also accounts for the vast majority of premiums. Due to the high growth rates of retail lending over 9M 2023, credit insurance premiums increased significantly during this period (by 46% year-on-year).

This trend was largely caused by the low base of 2022, when banks significantly reduced the supply of retail loans in the second and third quarters. By the end of 2023, ACRA expects a much smaller increase in insurance premiums — by 18% year-on-year.

The slowdown is explained by two factors. First, in Q4 2022, deferred demand for retail loans materialized, which contributed to an increase in lending volumes and a surge of credit insurance premiums. Second, a significant increase in interest rates in Q4 2023 will hold back demand for retail loans, and therefore ACRA does not expect high performance in the credit insurance segment in 2024.

In 2024, the Agency forecasts that credit insurance premiums will decline to RUB 370–375 bln, or by 8% compared to 2023. The main reason is a drop in demand for retail loans on the back of high interest rates. In addition, banks will be forced to limit the supply of loans to certain categories of borrowers in view of certain regulatory measures of the Bank of Russia aimed at preventing excessive debt burden of households.

Figure 4. The credit insurance segment will shrink following the cooling of the retail lending market



* 2023 is an estimate (data for 9M), 2024 is a forecast.
** Percentage means yearly growth of the respective indicator.
Sources: Bank of Russia, ACRA

An important constraining factor is also the Bank of Russia’s opposition to imposing credit insurance on borrowers. The average level of payouts from 2018 to 2022 is 9.7% of premiums, which is extremely low for a mass segment of insurance. Over 9M 2023, the ratio of payouts to premiums for the credit insurance segment amounted to 11.4%. The overwhelming share of premiums is directed to lending banks as fees. In fact, this means that credit insurance is more a tool for generating additional fee income rather than managing insurance risk.

The regulator’s pressure aimed at increasing the customer value of credit insurance has forced banks to abandon insurance policies in favor of service contracts that do not cover insurance risk, but still generate non-interest income for them. An important role was also played by a government decree that, starting from September 1, 2023, requires banks to accept insurance policies issued by any insurance company rated at least A- on a national rating scale. As a result, it will become difficult to earn significant fee income due to an inflated insurance premium, and this situation has sharply reduced the banks’ interest in credit insurance. Under the current conditions, the volume of credit insurance premiums may fall below the values expected by the Agency, but the effect of this decline is still difficult to estimate.

THE CAR insurance segment is growing steadily

The car insurance segment, which includes hull insurance, as well as voluntary and mandatory liability insurance, showed a steady positive trend over 9M 2023. According to ACRA’s estimates, the total volume of motor insurance premiums grew by 22% in the specified period, which was facilitated by a noticeable increase in insurance premiums in both motor hull insurance and liability insurance.

The main factor behind this trend is a significant increase in the number of cars sold in 2023 compared to 2022, when the Russian automotive market experienced a record drop in sales. The refusal of Western automakers to supply and manufacture cars in Russia led to a 60% fall in sales of new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles over 9M 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

Figure 5. After several years of stagnation, motor insurance segment is growing steadily



* 2023 is an estimate (data for 9M), 2024 is a forecast.
Sources: Bank of Russia, ACRA

The recovery of car supplies began in H1 2022 and continued in 2023 mainly due to the entry of Chinese cars to the market, growth of sales of Russian brands, and expansion of parallel import channels. According to the Association of European Businesses, over nine months of 2023, about 760,000 new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles were sold in Russia, which is about 50% higher than in the same period of 2022.

ACRA believes that further growth of the car market will be recorded in Q4 2023, and this trend will continue in 2024. According to the Agency’s forecast, the number of new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles sold will amount to about 1.08 mln in 2023 (+58% vs. 2022), and 1.44 mln (+33% vs. 2023) in 2024.

Prices of cars and car parts also continue to rise. This creates additional potential for premium increases and may prompt the Bank of Russia to further expand the tariff corridor. Taking into account the above factors, ACRA forecasts a 23% increase in car insurance premiums in 2023 (to RUB 605–615 bln), including hull insurance and liability insurance by 28% and 19% compared to 2022 (to RUB 280–290 bln and RUB 320–330 bln, respectively).

In 2024, the Agency expects a 20% increase in car insurance premiums to RUB 730–740 bln. This is the only one of the large segments of the insurance market that, in ACRA’s opinion, can perform well in 2024.

premiums in the private health insurance and property insurance segments will RECORD slight growth in 2024

Life insurance, credit insurance and car insurance account for about two thirds of the Russian insurance market in terms of total premiums. Among the other insurance segments, the largest shares belong to private health insurance (PHI), corporate property insurance, and private property insurance.

Over 9M 2023, PHI insurance premiums grew by 8% year-on-year. By the end of 2023, ACRA forecasts the total amount of PHI premiums at RUB 230–235 bln (+9% year-on-year). The Agency still considers PHI to be one of the most steadily growing insurance segments in the Russian market. ACRA expects a 10% increase in premiums in 2024, which in absolute terms corresponds to RUB 255–260 bln.

The private property insurance segment has also shown steady growth in recent years, which can largely be explained by the expansion of mortgage insurance. In 9M 2023, the amount of premiums in this segment grew by 41% due to both a significant increase in mortgage lending in 2023 and the low base effect of 2022, in the middle of which many mortgage programs were suspended. In 2023, private property insurance premiums are projected at RUB 110–115 bln (+34% compared to 2022). The slowdown is explained by the expected decrease in mortgage lending volumes against the backdrop of an increase in interest rates in Q4 2023. This may put pressure on the results of 2024, when the Agency expects private property insurance premiums to remain at the level of 2023 (RUB 110– 115 bln).

Figure 6. PHI and other corporate property insurance segments may record minor growth in 2024


* 2023 is an estimate (data for 9M), 2024 is a forecast.
** Other corporate property excludes freight vehicles, cargoes, and farm assets.
Sources: Bank of Russia, ACRA

The dynamics of the corporate property insurance segment remained rather weak in 2023, similar to the past 10 years. Premiums grew mainly due to the inflationary revaluation of assets. ACRA believes that by the end of 2023, the volume of premiums will remain at the level of 2022, and no significant changes in dynamics are expected. According to the Agency’s forecast, the premium growth rate in 2023 and 2024 will amount to 8%. In absolute terms, premiums are projected to range from RUB 135 bln to RUB 140 bln by the end of 2023 and RUB 145–155 bln in 2024.

Other segments, including different types of liability insurance, insurance of transport, agricultural, financial and business risks, as well as some others, generally demonstrated positive dynamics in 2023. According to data for 9M 2023, the increase in the total premiums in these segments amounted to 11% year-on-year, which is explained by heterogeneous factors. ACRA believes that growth in the total premiums in these segments in 2023 will correspond to the average market dynamics in other insurance segments (excluding credit insurance).

INSURANCE PENETRATION IS STILL LOW

The high growth rates of the insurance market observed in 2023 should not be misleading. It should be borne in mind that we are talking about nominal values, which, by their nature, are affected by increased inflation. In order to exclude the effect of money depreciation, the degree of development of the insurance sector is usually estimated by the insurance penetration measured as a percentage of total insurance premiums to GDP.

In terms of this indicator, the Russian market lags behind significantly. The global average insurance penetration for 2022, according to Swiss Re Institute, was 6.8%, including 2.8% for life insurance and 4% for non-life insurance. For the group of emerging economies, which includes Russia, the corresponding figures are significantly lower — 3.0%, 1.6%, and 1.4%, respectively (calculations exclude data for Russia).

Figure 7. Insurance penetration is declining, despite the observed growth of premiums


Source: ACRA

In view of the above, it can be assumed that the Russian insurance market has significant growth potential. Given the current level of economic development, the total insurance premium could be about three times higher; the growth potential in the life insurance segment is especially high.

However, the dynamics of insurance penetration shows that this potential has not yet been realized, and insurance penetration is not only failing to grow, but even decreasing.

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Analysts

Alexey Bredikhin
Director, Financial Institutions Ratings Group
+7 (495) 139 04 83
Alla Borisova
Associate Director, Financial Institutions Ratings Group
+7 (495) 139 04 80, ext. 153
Svetlana Panicheva
Head of External Communications
+7 (495) 139 04 80, ext. 169
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