Sector: Insurance

The insurance subsector consists of the insurance industry.

  • The Insurance industry provides both traditional and nontraditional insurance-related products. Traditional policy lines include property, life, casualty, and reinsurance. Nontraditional products include annuities, alternative risk transfers, and financial guarantees. Companies in the insurance industry also engage in proprietary investments. Insurance companies generally operate within a single segment in the industry, e.g., property and casualty, although there are some large insurance companies with diversified operations. Similarly, companies may vary based on the level of their geographic segmentation. While large companies may underwrite insurance premiums in multiple countries, smaller companies generally operate at a national or even local level. Insurance premiums, underwriting revenue, and investment income drive industry growth, while insurance claim payments present the most significant cost and source of uncertainty for profits. Insurance companies provide products and services that enable the transfer, pooling, and sharing of risk necessary for a well-functioning economy. Insurance companies, through their products, can also create a form of moral hazard, lowering incentives to improve underlying behavior and performance, and thus contributing to sustainability impacts. Similar to other financial institutions, insurance companies face risks associated with credit and financial markets. Within the industry, companies that engage in non-traditional or non-insurance activities, including credit default swaps (CDS) protection and debt securities insurance, have been identified by regulators as being more vulnerable to financial market developments, and subsequently, more likely to amplify or contribute to systemic risk. As a result, insurance companies face the potential of being designated as Systemically Important Financial Institutions, thus exposing them to enhanced regulation and oversight.

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