Non-life insurance premium growth continued to improve in 2014, fueled by a stronger performance in advanced markets. But it still averages less than before the 2008 financial crisis, Swiss Re said in a new sigma study.

The upward trend in premium growth was solid – a 2.9 percent hike in 2014 because of gains in advanced markets. That’s up from 2.7 percent growth the previous year, continuing a gradual growth recovery since 2009, Swiss Re noted.

Those gains varied, however. Premiums grew 2.6 percent in North America during 2014, Swiss Re said. In Western Europe, there was only a 0.6 percent premium gain, but that came after years of decline and stagnant premiums, according to the study.

Still, the “southern peripheral countries” of Western Europe continued to be a drag on P/C premium growth overall, Swiss Re said. The carrier noted that premium growth remains weak in those countries. What’s more, lines such as casualty, and especially motor, have seen substantial premium contraction, according to the study. At the same time, the European economic environment will continue to improve, “and when employment falls, non-life premiums, including motor, will recover,” study co-author Daniel Staib said in prepared remarks.

Emerging markets still beat all, however. In those regions, non-life premiums soared by 8 percent in 2014, according to the report. China helped drive much of this in motor, credit & guarantee and agriculture lines. India also helped, where economic growth and improved business sentiment helped boost premiums, Swiss Re said.

The solid gains in advanced market and robust growth in emerging markets still fell short of the pace reached before the 2008 financial crisis, Swiss Re noted.

Non-life premium growth couldn’t meet the pace of global life premiums. Swiss Re said that they returned to “positive real growth” of 4.3 percent globally in 2014, surpassing the average reached before the financial crisis.

Source: Swiss Re