Zurich boss says industry has been hit by 'double dip' as sales fall
Published 09/11/2010 | 05:00
THE chief executive of Ireland's second-biggest life insurer has admitted the industry is experiencing the "dreaded double dip", with weak sales expected to persist for the rest of the year.
Anthony Brennan made the comments as he revealed a 5pc fall in sales at Zurich's Irish life insurance operations over the third quarter of the year.
The fastest-growing player in the market, Zurich grew new business premiums by 10pc in H1 before the overall market went into reverse.
"It's very, very tough out there," said Mr Brennan, citing the 14pc market-wide fall in quarter three.
"It looked like it was picking up earlier in the year, but there's no sign of that now. . . the dreaded double dip is already happening in the life insurance market."
Regular premium pensions were Zurich's poorest performer in the third quarter, with new business premiums dropping by 10pc to €12.3m against a market-wide fall of 15pc.
Zurich's single premium pensions only fell by 7pc in quarter three, but those products are now the biggest concern as the industry gears up for the pension season ahead of self-employed tax deadlines.
"With online filing, people have until November 16 so we wouldn't have as much visibility over it [as in previous years]," said Mr Brennan.
"It will be down -- the question is whether it'll be down by a small or a large amount."
As well as falling new business premiums, Zurich's third-quarter numbers also chart a deterioration of the life insurer's new business margins.