Basel, March 10, 2021. “The results for 2020 demonstrate that Baloise is resilient in times of crisis – thanks to its far-sighted strategy with a strong focus on long-term success – and that the Company met all the demands made of it by its stakeholders. Despite the challenges that we faced in 2020, I can again take pride in what we have achieved as one of the most profitable insurance businesses in Europe. The very strong core business provides the foundations for our success, and we will continue to optimise it in the years ahead by improving our efficiency and increasing the number of customers. Furthermore, we can confirm our position at the forefront of digital innovation in our sector, offering new and highly promising initiatives in our Home and Mobility ecosystems. I am therefore confident that we will fully achieve our strategic targets by the end of this year and will embark with renewed energy on our new strategic phase, ‘Simply Safe: Season 2’, which we presented at our Investor Day last October.” Gert De Winter, Group CEO
Progress with the Simply Safe strategic targets in 2020
- Employee satisfaction: in the top 8 per cent of the most popular employers in the industry (2019: top 15 per cent; target for 2021: top 10 per cent)
- Customer growth in 2020: 225 thousand new customers in 2020, which is 8 per cent more new customers than in 2019 (2019: 209 thousand); total (2017–2020): 738 thousand new customers (target for 2017–2021: one million additional customers)
- Generation of cash in 2020: CHF 424 million in 2020; total (2017–2020): CHF 1,743 million (target for 2017–2021: CHF 2 billion)
2020 annual financial results in brief
- Profit attributable to shareholders for 2020 amounted to CHF 434.3 million (2019: CHF 694.2 million). In 2019, Baloise had benefited from a non-recurring tax effect of CHF 149 million that was not repeated in 2020. Other factors affecting profit alongside the tax effect were payouts on claims in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and a fall in net financial income. Net expenses for the pandemic amounted to approximately CHF 72 million. In total, Baloise anticipates gross coronavirus-related expenses of around CHF 178 million, for which reserves were recognised in the 2020 half-year financial statements.
- The volume of business contracted by 6.1 per cent to CHF 8,926.5 million (2019: CHF 9,509.9 million). In 2019, a competitor had withdrawn from business involving comprehensive insurance solutions for occupational pensions, resulting in a non-recurring rise in premiums in the traditional life business. Adjusted for this effect, strong growth was generated in the target segments, especially in the attractive non-life business.
- In the non-life business, the volume of premiums rose by a healthy 7.3 per cent to CHF 3,802.5 million (2019: CHF 3,542.1 million). This equated to an increase of 10.1 per cent in local-currency terms. This growth resulted from both organic growth and the acquisitions in Belgium, which were included for the full year for the first time. Despite the losses that Baloise incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the net combined ratio stood at a very good 91.2 per cent (2019: 90.4 per cent).
- In the life business, gross premiums fell by 18.9 per cent to CHF 3,291.3 million (2019: CHF 4,060.3 million). In 2019, Baloise had benefited from additional premiums of around CHF 569 million resulting from the withdrawal of a competitor from business involving comprehensive insurance solutions for occupational pensions. These were mostly single premiums, so the effect was not repeated in 2020. EBIT in the life business amounted to a solid CHF 282.2 million (2019: CHF 274.8 million). The new business margin in the life business was very healthy at 42.7 per cent in 2020, representing a return to a more normal level compared with the prior-year figure, which had been influenced by a one-off spike in volume in the group life business in Switzerland (2019: 37.3 per cent).
- Asset management delivered a net return on insurance assets of 2.1 per cent (2019: 2.3 per cent). This performance can be explained by the persistently low level of interest rates and COVID-19-related impairment losses. Net inflows from external customers jumped by 48 per cent to around CHF 1,244 million (2019: CHF 841 million).
- Baloise is very well capitalised. In June 2020, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) confirmed its rating of A+ for Baloise. The outlook for the German business unit Basler Sachversicherungs-AG was upgraded from ‘stable’ to ‘positive’ by S&P in light of its improved profitability. In the Swiss Solvency Test (SST)*, a ratio of over 180 per cent is expected as at 1 January 2021.
- The Board of Directors of Bâloise Holding Ltd intends to propose to the 2021 Annual General Meeting that the dividend be maintained unchanged at the attractive level of CHF 6.40 per share. Furthermore, the Board of Directors will propose Karin Lenzlinger Diedenhofen for election at the next Annual General Meeting.
- As announced at the Investor Day, the topic of sustainability is at the centre of Baloise’s activities in all areas. The Company has created a new value creation model that identifies and defines how sustainable value can be created for employees, customers, shareholders, partners, the environment and society as a whole. In 2020, the scope of the sustainable investment approach was expanded to all assets managed by Baloise in products for external customers, the Baloise Senior Secured Loans fund, the selection of third-party funds and real estate investments.
- At the forefront of innovation: The Home and Mobility ecosystems have been expanded further. FRIDAY doubled its volume of premiums in 2020 and is venturing into the French market for the first time.
Read the full press release here.