Insurance companies play an important role in the financial sector and the availability of insurance products is an essential element of sustainable economic growth. This article analyses the relationship between growth in the insurance sector and key macroeconomic determinants using a European panel data set published by EIOPA. We focus on gross written premiums (GWP) to capture insurance market growth. Our empirical analysis reveals a high GWP persistence as well as a strong link between GWP and economic growth and unemployment. Moreover, the estimated model suggests a higher sensitivity to the macroeconomic environment for life compared to non-life insurance. Finally, there is also empirical evidence that insurers expand their international activities in periods when domestic growth opportunities are low. These findings can be used to underpin a quantitative financial stability framework to assess the potential impact of different macroeconomic scenarios on insurance market growth.