Companies in this industry underwrite insurance policies and annuities that are paid out in the case of death, illness, injury, or damage to property. Major companies include Anthem, AIG, MetLife, Prudential Financial, State Farm, and UnitedHealth (all based in the US), along with Allianz (Germany), Assicurazioni Generali (Italy), AXA (France), and Ping An Insurance (China).
Global insurance premiums written total about $4.8 trillion, according to Swiss Re. Insurance carriers are expanding into emerging markets such as China, India, and Brazil, where rising middle-class populations have spawned growing demand for insurance products. Other areas of the world are still facing economic uncertainty, which may impact insurance sales.
The US insurance carriers industry includes about 31,000 establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with combined annual revenue of about $1.9 trillion.
Insurance agents and brokers are covered in a separate profile.
Demand is driven by demographics and commercial transactions, as well as by legal or financial requirements affecting customers. Consumers are usually required by states to buy auto insurance and by lenders to buy homeowners insurance, for example. The profitability of individual companies depends on effective marketing and on the ability to accurately estimate future payments. Large companies have big economies of scale in administration and in access to capital, as well as advertising and marketing. Small companies can compete successfully by specializing in particular products or industries. The US industry is concentrated: the 50 largest companies generate about...