The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic considerably increases the uncertainty of all statements on future business development, as not only all forecasts regarding the further course of the pandemic and the associated effects on overall economic development, but also the assessment of future central bank policy, government measures, and reactions on the capital market are currently subject to major uncertainty.
On the other hand, we regard the situation in our technical core business as relatively strong. Despite our initial fears at the start of the pandemic, our insurance business has proven to be highly resilient. Despite significant restrictions, which affected sales in particular, we were able to keep our premium volume relatively stable on a comparable basis, i.e. before factoring in the AXA acquisition in CEE. Our customers did not waive their insurance coverage despite the economic challenges, meaning that the rate of cancellations remained very moderate for the given conditions. This makes us optimistic about the premium volume for 2021.
The loss directly related to Covid-19 was already entered in the books in full in 2020 and will certainly not be repeated to the same extent in 2021. Conversely, people’s mobility in our core markets is no longer as reduced as the levels we saw in the first half of 2020, despite recent repeated lockdowns. Thus, we cannot expect fewer claims in our motor vehicle insurance over the long term.
We began the largest restructuring in our corporate history in the past financial year. The first partial successes of this restructuring should be seen in the form of a decrease in administrative costs as early as 2021.
In summary, we do not see any significant distortions in our core insurance business despite the ongoing pandemic. This expectation is, however, linked to the hope of improvements in the pandemic situation thanks to the broad availability of effective vaccines in the second half of 2020.
The outlook for the UNIQA Group for 2021 is subject to the following assumptions:
- A global economic recovery is occurring that balances out at least some of the economic output lost in 2020.
- The ECB’s monetary policy will also remain extremely loose in 2021. UNIQA does not therefore expect any noticeable rise in the general interest rate level in the eurozone.
- Fluctuations on the capital markets remain high, but there is no lasting significant decline in securities prices.
- There are no drastic fiscal, regulatory or legal interventions on the horizon.
- Damages from natural catastrophes remain within the average of previous years.
Overall, UNIQA is expecting earnings before taxes for the 2021 financial year at approximately the 2018 level.
The dividend distribution is based on the company’s profits. UNIQA plans to distribute 50 to 60 per cent of consolidated profit to shareholders in the form of a dividend.