The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) published today its December 2023 report on the costs and past performance of retail investment products within its remit.
Based on a sample of over 1000 investment products from 173 insurers, more than 200 personal pension products and 1400 occupational pension funds, the report analyses the costs of insurance and pension policies in 2022 as well as the returns they offered over the years.
Investment-based insurance products
The changing macroeconomic environment in 2022 amid high inflation and rising interest rates impacted overall market returns and the outlook for assets underpinning investment products in general. In 2022, unit-linked and hybrid products yielded negative returns, with a performance of -11.5% (-18.9% in real terms) and -4.7% (-12.7% in real terms), respectively. While profit participation products showed positive nominal returns of 1.35%, their real-term balance, accounting for inflation and costs, was still negative at -7.2%.
A closer look at the performance of insurance-based investment products (IBIPs) reveals performance differences influenced by risk class, the recommended holding period and the frequency with which premiums are paid. Higher risk classes, being more exposed to market volatility, reported worse net returns in 2022 than products in lower risk classes.
The costs of IBIPs remained stable, but comparatively high on average. Profit participation products retained their cost advantage (1.5% reduction in yield) over unit-linked or hybrid products (2.1% reduction in yield), even as the latter two categories saw slight cost reductions.
Sustainable products experienced rapid growth in both supply and demand. Such products continued to be cheaper than their non-sustainable counterparts and showed no substantial difference in terms of market performance.
Personal pension products largely followed the trends observed in insurance-based investment products. Financial market stress led personal pension products without guarantees to post negative returns on average in 2022. Personal pension products similar to unit-linked policies experienced losses of 14.1%, while personal pension products similar to profit participation products generated a slight positive return of 0.7%.
EIOPA and the European Securities and Markets Authority will organise an event on 10 January 2024 to discuss the findings of the two institutions’ separate costs and past performance reports. To read ESMA's report, click here. Further information about the event and how to register is available here.
Insurance-based investment products (IBIPs) are insurance products that offer a maturity or surrender value and where that maturity or surrender value is wholly or partially exposed to market fluctuations, directly or indirectly. Typical examples of IBIPs are unit-linked life insurance, profit participation life insurance and traditional life insurance products.
- Publication date
- 18 December 2023