Major life insurers continue to suffer

The hits keep coming for Australia's life insurance industry, with new data showing total risk premiums inflows dropped by more than $790 million in the 12 months to September 2019, as major players endured another tough year.

Australia's life insurance industry continues to suffer the ill-effects of deteriorating conditions, with major players AIA, CommInsure, AMP, BT, Zurich and MLC all registering lower risk premium inflows across 2019, according to new Plan for Life data.

The actuary and research firm released the latest data on life insurance risk premium inflows and sales for the year ending September 2019 this week, which reveals individual risk lump sum premium inflows were down 2.7% on the year prior, dropping to $6.978 billion.

Turning to the group risk segment, the story is even bleaker, with a 9.4% drop in premium inflows registered for the year ending September 2019.

CommInsure bled the most, with 20.3% less risk premium inflows compared to the year before, while AMP (-8.9%), BT and Westpac (-6.9%), MLC (-4.5%) and Zurich (-3.2%) all followed suit.

MetLife managed to buck the trend growing by 5%, while smaller player ClearView performed well to post 10.3% growth. TAL, the market leader with $3.795 billion in risk premium inflows across the year and 24.2% of the market, remained relatively stable with a 0.8% increase.

However, perhaps most concerning for the sector was the 24.2% hit it took to overall annual sales. AMP suffered the most thanks to a 63.8% drop in risk sales compared with the year prior, with BT and Westpac not far behind after selling 61.7% less.

AIA (-42.8%) and CommInsure (-35.7%) also took "very significant" falls in their sales according to Plan for Life, though MetLife again managed to swim against the tide, increasing their sales by 27%. MLC (8.9%) and Zurich (6%) also posted positive results.

The results come less than a week after APRA questioned the sustainability of the local life insurance sector in its report looking back on 2019.

In its report, the prudential regulator highlighted the tough conditions facing the sector, and noted the viability of some products was in severe doubt as profitability continued to face challenges.

Read more: BTCommInsureZurichMLCTALMetLifePlan for LifeAIAAPRA
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