Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/18/2012 -- The Poland Insurance Report considers the prospects for both life and non-life insurers in that country. BMI remains of the view that international groups are correct to see Poland as the market in Central and Eastern Europe that is too important to ignore. A positive interpretation of conditions would highlight the strong growth of the non-life segment, improving profitability (thanks in part to vastly fewer claims relating to natural catastrophes than in 2010), as well as the initiatives announced by leading insurers to develop new products, distribution channels and administrative systems. Poland is patently a country in which households and businesses already appreciate the benefits of non-life and life insurance. A negative interpretation would highlight the low level of development of life insurance by many metrics; the impact on insurers' earnings of volatile financial markets in 2011. A respectable performance by the insurance sector last year was the result of the strength of the Polish economy (which was remarkable by local standards) and a hike in motor insurance tariffs: the first of these factors may not be sustainable in 2012, while the second was a 'one-off.'
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A key change around the beginning of 2012 was that German multi-national giant Talanx has emerged as the second largest player in Poland's insurance sector - behind PZU, the former state monopoly. Talanx had long been present in both major segments - but with minor market shares. In December, it reached an agreement with Getin Holding Group to buy Europa Group - one of the largest indigenous players in life insurance (especially) and non-life insurance. Talanx's partner in this deal is Japan's Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance, which is seeking growth opportunities outside Japan. In late January, Talanx announced that it would buy WARTA, the composite insurance operation of Belgium's KBC that is the third largest player in both of the two major segments. BMI agrees with Talanx that the Polish insurance market represents an attractive opportunity. It is likely that Getin Holding and KBC would concur with this assessment, given that they only sold their respective insurance businesses to Talanx as a result of major corporate restructurings that they were undertaking for reasons that are unrelated to the prospects for the insurance sector. Central to both deals is the concept that bancassurance is an important - and, for all parties involved, profitable - distribution channel.
In the wake of these transactions, we note that the competitive landscape remains fragmented. Further consolidation is, we believe, likely - particularly given the challenges that remain.
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