Insurance in Switzerland
There are a total of 210 insurance and re-insurance institutions registered in Switzerland, of which 24 are life insurance companies. These 210 companies handle a total premium volume of a total CHF 165.8 billion and the 24 life insurers have added a constant CHF 30 billion on average per year over the last decade.
Safety, reliability, stability
The most remarkable fact is not the amount of assets under management of Swiss insurance companies, but the fact that not a single Swiss insurance company has ever been forced to close its doors, failed to meet its obligations or gone bankrupt. This track record is unique in the world. In the United States, for example, several major life insurance companies have failed or gone bankrupt. And in 2000 even Equitable Life, Britain’s – and probably the world’s – oldest life insurer and once one of the proudest names in the industry, had to close its doors to new business. This case actually raised some fundamental questions about the provision and regulation of private pension insurance in the United Kingdom.
In Switzerland, things are quite different. The FINMA regulates all Swiss insurance business by enforcing the strictest regulations known in the industry. All Swiss life insurance companies are required to maintain a security fund which covers all their obligations plus an additional security margin. This fund is segregated from the company’s operating assets. The investment parameters for the security funds are very conservative, the only priority being their safety and liquidity.
The insurance industry is an important part of the Swiss economy and the Swiss themselves are known to be well-insured: Switzerland has the world’s highest per-capita spending on insurance premiums overall, and also the highest per-capita spending on life insurance premiums.