This blog is part of the Pillar 3 Reporting series. For more blogs in this series click here.
Following the first annual reporting deadline under Solvency II, here’s a look at a breakdown of investment assets held by Irish insurance companies.
The figures below are based on an analysis of the investment breakdowns found in the Solvency and Financial Condition Reports (SFCRs) of 51 insurance companies in Ireland, which include all the major players in the Irish insurance market. Please note that these investments do not include assets held for unit-linked or index-linked contracts. Instead they represent the assets backing technical provisions and shareholder investments.
On average, Irish insurers are heavily invested in bonds, with 41% in government bonds, followed by 35% in corporate bonds. There are also significant holdings in cash and deposits (9%), listed equities (4%) and collective investment undertakings (5%).
The chart below shows the various market sectors in more detail.
• Domestic life companies are heavily invested in government bonds, which account for 64% of their total investments, followed by corporate bonds, making up 22%.
• For life cross-border companies, there is a wider distribution across investment types, with the highest allocation of investments to government bonds (32%), followed by corporate bonds (23%), cash and deposits (17%), collective investment undertakings (11%) , listed equities (10%) and derivatives (6%).
• Reinsurers are heavily invested in corporate bonds, which account for 56% of their investments on average, followed by 33% invested in government bonds. This may indicate that the large global reinsurers are prepared to take on a little more risk, in order to gain a higher spread.
• When we look at non-life companies, we can see their investments are almost equally split between government bonds (37%) and corporate bonds (38%).
In terms of more unusual assets, we see a wide range of assets included in the ‘Other’ category in the market sectors chart above, although these investments are typically low. Investments in the ‘Other’ category include property, mortgages/loans and collateralised securities in the form of mortgage-backed securities.
The public disclosure templates do not reveal the duration of investments held. Therefore it is not possible to get a picture of how well matched the asset portfolios are to the associated liabilities. However, a comparison with the investment mix and the market risk component of the Solvency Capital Requirement (SCR) of the various market sectors shows the following:
• For non-life insurers, the market risk component of the SCR is much lower than for life insurers even though the investment mix is broadly similar. This is typically due to the fact the non-life insurers invest in short-term assets, which tend to attract lower capital requirements.
• For life insurers, the domestic insurers have a higher market risk component than the cross-border insurers. This is counterintuitive to the asset mix, which shows that the domestic insurers are more heavily invested in government bonds that are traditionally considered to be less risky and attract no capital charge for spread risk under the Solvency II standard formula. It is not clear from the SFCRs what is causing this but it may be that the domestic insurers are investing in assets of a longer duration to back long-term liabilities, such as annuities, or it could be that the unit-linked policyholders of the domestic insurers are investing in riskier assets than their cross-border counterparts.