Chief executive explains that ‘the role of the insurer has completely changed’

Insurer Axa has reported gross written premium (GWP) and other revenue of €19.3bn (£16.5bn) across its European property and casualty (P&C) business for 2023, as published in its full-year financial results today (22 February 2024).

This GWP and other revenue figure includes the value of new business, present value of expected premiums and the new business value margin, alongside any changes in GWP.

The insurer’s combined operating ratio (COR) for its overall P&C operations was 93.2% for 2023, indicating a 4.2 percentage point drop, while underlying earnings for its European P&C arm amounted to €1.6bn (£1.4bn) by the end of last year.

Across Europe, GWP and other revenue totalled €8.6bn (£7.4bn) in 2023 for Axa’s commercial lines of business – an increase of 8% compared to its 2022 full-year results. Personal lines in Europe, meanwhile, reached €10.7bn (£9.1bn) GWP and other revenue in 2023.

Breaking this down further, Axa’s commercial non-motor business in Europe achieved GWP and other revenue of €7bn (£6bn) last year and its commercial motor offering reached €1.6bn (£1.4bn).

Its personal lines motor business in Europe amounted to €6.5bn (£5.6bn) of GWP and other revenue for 2023, while non-motor personal lines made €4.2bn (£3.6bn) in GWP and other revenue last year.

In terms of the P&C price effect – calculated as a percentage of GWP in the prior year – Axa reported a 4.7% price effect for commercial lines and a 31.5% price effect for personal lines in the UK and Ireland.

Addressing journalists from Paris during a press briefing call this morning, Axa chief executive Thomas Buberl emphasised that the insurer has a “very solid balance sheet”.

He continued: “Earnings took place in the context that was very uncertain.

“The world has been uncertain and will probably remain so. Despite this environment, Axa [produced] excellent results, proving that the successful transformation of the group that we initiated in 2016 is definitely a success.”

Group-wide growth

Axa’s overall global P&C business achieved GWP and other revenue of €53bn (£45.3bn) for 2023, compared to €50.6bn (£43.2bn) for 2022.

This breaks down into GWP of €33bn (£28.2bn) for commercial lines – versus 2022’s full-year figure of €31.1bn (£26.6bn) – and €17.8bn (£15.2bn) for personal lines, compared to €16.9bn (£14.4bn) for 2022. Group-wide underlying earnings for P&C were €5bn (£4.3bn) last year, an improvement on 2022’s €4.4bn (£3.8bn) result.

The insurer attributed its commercial lines premium growth, in part, to an 8% uptick in new business across Europe, as well as a higher volume of property and specialty business flowing through its Axa XL arm.

It added that higher motor premiums contributed to GWP growth in personal lines too.

Axa XL Reinsurance, meanwhile, reported GWP and other revenue of €2.3bn (£2bn) for 2023, a slight decrease compared to the €2.6bn (£2.2bn) reported for 2022. This was driven by a reduction in property catastrophe exposure.

Axa’s Solvency II ratio is 227% for 2023, compared to 215% for the same reporting period in 2022.

Giving back

Axa’s trading update additionally confirmed the launch of a new share buyback scheme on 21 February 2024, for up to €1.6bn (£1.4bn).

The report stated: “This comprises €1.1bn (£9.4m) in annual share buyback representing a 15% payout ratio, in line with the new capital management policy, and a €0.5bn (£4.2m) anti-dilutive share buyback related to the reinsurance agreement for an in-force savings portfolio at Axa France, as previously announced on 20 December 2023.”

Buberl concluded: “The role of the insurer has completely changed.

“[Around] 20 years ago, the insurer was the one paying the invoices and now, the insurer has become a partner of [its] customers and of society.”

  • Insurance Times has converted euros to pound sterling at a conversion rate of €1.17 = £1, correct as of 1 February 2024.