World’s Top 10 Insurance Companies

Insurance helps us to do exactly what this quote suggests. We all face many kinds of risks: risk of meeting with an accident, falling sick, being a victim of a natural disaster or fire, and above all risk of life. All these risks not only come with pain and suffering but also hurt financially. Insurance is one way of being prepared for the worst; it offers the surety that the economic part of the pain will be taken care of. In this article, we take a look at some of the top insurance companies. There are many criteria on the basis of which, such a list can be prepared: premium collections, market capitalization, revenue, profit, geographical area, assets, and more. This list focuses on insurance companies with the largest revenues across the globe (in no particular order).

With over 102 million customers in 56 countries and an employee base of 157,000, AXA is one of the world’s leading insurance groups. Its main businesses are property and casualty insurance, life insurance, saving, and asset management. Its origin goes back to 1817 when several insurance companies merged to create AXA. The company is headquartered in Paris and has a presence across Africa, North America, Central and South America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East.

In 2013, AXA as a move to increase its foothold in Latin America acquired 51% of the insurance operations of Colpatria Seguros in Colombia. During the same year, AXA became the largest international insurer operating in China as a result of its 50% acquisition of Tian Ping (a Chinese property and casualty insurer). In addition, the company acquired the non-life insurance operations of HSBC in Mexico. The AXA Group reported consolidated gross revenue of €91 billion for the year 2013.

2) Zurich Insurance Group

Zurich Insurance Group, a Switzerland-headquartered global insurance company, was founded in 1872. Zurich Group, together with its subsidiaries, operates in more than 170 countries, providing insurance products and services. The core businesses of Zurich include general insurance, global life, and farmers insurance. With its employee strength of over 55,000, Zurich caters to the vast insurance needs of individuals and businesses of all sizes: small, mid-sized and large-sized companies and even multinational corporations.

During 2013, Zurich Insurance Group posted a business operating profit of $4.7 billion (15% higher than 2012). Of this, general insurance contributed 51%, while global life and framers contributed 23% and 27% respectively. Total revenue was reported as $72 billion.

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3) China Life Insurance

China Life Insurance (Group) Company (LFC) is one of Mainland China’s largest state-owned insurance and financial services companies, as well as a key player in the Chinese capital market as an institutional investor. The origin of the company goes back to 1949 when the People’s Insurance Company of China (PICC) was formed. Its offshoot PICC (Life) Co. Ltd was created after parting ways with PICC in 1996. PICC (Life) Co Ltd was renamed as China Life Insurance Company in 1999. The China Life Insurance Company was restructured in 2003 as China Life Insurance (Group) Company, which has seven subsidiaries. The businesses are spread across life insurance, pension plans, asset management, property and casualty, investment holdings, and overseas operations.

The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and is the biggest public life insurance company in terms of market capitalization in the world.

4) Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A) was founded in 1889 and is associated with Warren Buffet, who has transformed a mediocre entity into one of the largest companies in the world. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is now a leading investment manager conglomerate, engaging in insurance, among other sectors such as rail transportation, finance, utilities and energy, manufacturing, services, and retailing through its subsidiaries.

It provides primary insurance, as well as reinsurance of property and casualty risks. Companies like Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group, GEICO, Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group, and General Re, National Indemnity Company, Medical Protective Company, Applied Underwriters, U.S. Liability Insurance Company, Central States Indemnity Company, the Guard Insurance Group are subsidiaries of the group.

5) Prudential plc

Prudential plc (PUK) is an insurance and financial services brand with operations catering to 23 million customers across Asia, the US, and the UK. Prudential plc was founded in United Kingdom in 1848. Prudential Corporation Asia, Prudential UK, Jackson National Life Insurance Company, and M&G Investments are the main businesses within the group. Jackson is a prominent insurance company in the United States, while Prudential UK is one of the leading providers of pension and life.

Prudential plc is listed on the stock exchanges of London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York. It has approximately 22,308 employees worldwide, with assets under management worth £443 billion.

6) United Heath Group

The UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) tops the list of diversified health care businesses in the United States. Its two business platforms–UnitedHealthcare for health benefits and Optum for health services–work together, serving more than 85 million people in every US state and 125 countries. The UnitedHealth Group uses its experience and resources in clinical care to improve the performance of the health care services sector.

The company reported revenue of $122 billion in 2013, nearly $12 billion more than in 2012. Fortune has featured UnitedHealth Group as the “World’s Most Admired Company” in the insurance and managed care sector four years in a row: 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

7) Munich Re Group

Founded in 1880, Munich Re Group operates in all lines of insurance and has a presence in 30 countries, with focus on Asia and Europe. The company’s primary insurance operations are carried out by its subsidiary, ERGO Insurance Group, which offers a comprehensive range of insurance, services, and provision. Munich Re Group’s home market is Germany, where ERGO is a leader in all areas of insurance. The Group has a new arm, Munich Health, which parlays the group’s risk-management and insurance expertise into the health care field.

The group has around 45,000 employees worldwide, working in all businesses of insurance: life reinsurance, health reinsurance, accident reinsurance, liability business, motor reinsurance, property-casualty business, marine reinsurance, aviation reinsurance, and fire reinsurance. The Munich Re Group reported a profit of €3.3 billion on premium income of €51.5 billion in 2013.

8) Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A.

Assicurazioni Generali, founded in 1831, is the Assicurazioni Generali Group’s parent company. The Generali Group is not only a market leader in Italy, but is also counted as a prominent player in the field of global insurance and financial products. The Group, with a presence in more than 60 countries, is an international brand with dominance in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. The Generali Group’s prime focus has been life insurance, offering diverse products from family protection and savings polices to unit-linked insurance plans. It offers an equally diverse range of products in the non-life segment as well, such as coverage of car, home, accident, and health, along with coverage of commercial and industrial risk.

The group has 77,000 employees and a client base of 65 million people worldwide. The group wrote premiums worth €66 billion: 32% property and casualty premium and 68% life premiums. The group reported operating income of €4.3 billion in 2013.

9) Japan Post Holding Co., Ltd.

The Japan Post Holding Co., Ltd. is a major state-owned conglomerate in Japan. The company has four primary divisions: Japan Post Service (for mail delivery), Japan Post Network (runs the post offices), Japan Post Bank (deals with banking functions), and Japan Post Insurance (provides life insurance). Japan Post Insurance operates within Japan Post Holding to provide insurance to its clients. The insurance arm makes use of the post offices nationwide network, in addition to its own sales offices, to reach out and provide services to the clients.

Japan Post Holding has a strong balance sheet with a profit of $4.891 billion and 2013 revenues of nearly $204 billion. The group, which runs the largest insurer in Japan (Japan Post Insurance), has a goal to go public in the US sometime in 2015.

10) Allianz SE

Founded in 1890, Allianz SE is a leading financial services company, providing products and services from insurance to asset management. Allianz caters to customers in more than 70 countries with €1.77 billion worth of assets under management. Insurance products range from property and casualty products to health and life insurance products for corporate and individual customers.

In 2013, the Allianz Group reported total revenues of €110.8 billion and an operating profit of €10.1 billion. In terms of revenue, segment contributions were as follows: property and casualty (42%), life and health (51%), asset management (7%) and corporate, other (1%). In terms of operating profit, the contributions by property and casualty, life and health, and asset management were 47%, 24% and 28% respectively. The company is headquartered in Germany.

Bottom Line

Some of the other reputable names in the insurance business are ING Group (ING), Prudential Insurance Company of America (a subsidiary of Prudential Financial, Inc., PRU), AIA Group Ltd., Ping An Insurance Company of China, Ltd., American International Group, Inc. (AIG), Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC), and MetLife, Inc. (MET). Picking the right insurance company to invest in is important and should not based on a company’s revenue collections alone. A few things on your check list should be the company’s rating, its financial strength, if the company specializes in any particular type of insurance, refusal of claims in the past, proximity of office, premium rates, and discounts offered on multiple policies.

 

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