Gross Written premiums in the life segment, including premiums related to investment contracts, amounted to € 49,730 million, a 6.3% decrease over the previous year, reflecting the increasingly disciplined approach taken to the offer.
With regard to the lines of business, the planned decline in savings products continues (-5.7%), reflecting the actions of rebalancing income towards products with better risk/return characteristics in the main countries in which the Group operates. The unit-linked line (-10.9%) is still impacted by equity market volatility, whilst protection line (-2.8%) is seeing positive performance in the Group’s main areas, offset by the downturn in Germany (-12,4%) due to a positive effect in 2015.
Net cash inflows is confirmed at excellent levels, reaching € 12,049 million, above the average of the last 5 years. The drop (-18.5%) recorded was due to the comparison with 2015 in which premium income reached the record level of nearly € 15 billion. This performance in particular reflects the drop seen in Germany, France and Italy due to more highly selective subscription policies for savings products, which are also involved in a significant revision of the offer, to adjust it to the current low-interest rate environment. In addition, there was an increase in amounts paid out in Germany linked to a particular portfolio that had reached its natural maturity. On the other hand, excellent performance continues in Asia, where net premium income grew by 40%.
New business in terms of annual premium equivalents (APE) stood at € 4,847 million, down 6.6% with respect to the previous year. This performance is mainly attributable to the decline in single premium policies (-13.4%) observed in all of the main markets except Asia, where instead there was growth of 47.8%. Annual premiums are basically stable (-0.5%); the decline in Italy, Germany, CEE and EMEA countries was offset by growth in France and Asia.
With reference to the lines of business, there was an improvement in the risk business with a good level of growth (+12.4%), primarily thanks to business in France (+21.7%) and Asia (+72.0%). On the other hand, unit linked business declined (-11.3%) in the main areas: -18.8% in Italy, factoring in the significant increase in “multi-line” products in the previous year, as well as in France and Germany. The savings business also decreased (-9.7%) due to the unfavourable financial situation and the Group’s actions with a view to prudent management of the guarantees offered.
The effectiveness of the actions put into place, in line with the strategic plan, are also confirmed by the new business value (NBV), which improved significantly (+14.6%), standing at € 1,256 million (€ 1,097 million at 31 December 2015).
The new business margin (NBM) rose significantly by 4.8 pps to 25.9% (21.0% at 31 December 2015), primarily due to the refocusing of sales towards the pure risk business and the effective recalibration of guarantees, although the economic environment is worse than last year.