For the better part of the last decade, the insurance sector was expanding rapidly. Between 2014 and 2018, 90 per cent of industry profits were derived from investment income1 alone. But even before the disruption of COVID-19 came into full swing, 2020 was shaping up to be a turbulent year for insurance. Low interest rates and stagnant growth were just two factors that posed a challenge for leading global players.
One year on from that, however, and the forecast isn’t all gloom: in many developing countries, a growing middle class means new opportunities for the insurance industry to thrive. And while optimism for 2021 growth needs to be tempered until we can accurately assess the full impact of the global pandemic, it’s worth noting that several of the companies listed below have been around since the 19th century – evidence of insurance’s staying power.
Here are the top ten insurance companies in the world through the end of the fiscal year 2020 as measured by total revenue.
10. Ping An Insurance
Country of Origin: China
Total Revenue: $23.48 billion2
Number of Employees: 372,2003
Known fully as Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd., Ping An is a Chinese holding conglomerate with interests in insurance, banking, and financial services. Founded in 1988 and Shenzhen, Ping An is one of China’s largest insurers with US$23.48 billion in revenue in 2018. This makes Ping An a bit of an outlier in the list as they are one of the few companies who saw an increase over their 2019 revenue totals. This past year’s revenue is up 11.3 per cent over last year. Net profitability is up 2.3 per cent to just over $4.4 billion.
For its combined financial services operations, Ping An serves more than 200 million retail customers and 574 million Internet users as of mid-2019. The company takes a holistic approach to serve its customers with a corporate philosophy of one customer, multiple products, and one-stop services.
Ping An is listed on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges and ranked 7th on the Forbes Global 2000 list in 2020.
9. Nippon Life
Country of Origin: Japan
Total Revenue: $51.91 billion4
Number of Employees: 92,1225
Nippon Life is the largest Japanese insurance company and is yet another on our list with a history dating back to the 19th Century. Founded in 1889 and headquartered in Osaka, Japan, Nippon Life’s main product line includes general insurance, life insurance, and health insurance.
Nippon Life operates through a network of smaller companies comprised of 14 domestic insurance companies, seven overseas companies, 50 asset management companies, and 10 general affairs companies.
For the fiscal year ending March 2020, Nippon Life generated $51.91 billion in revenue and which was down 5.8 per cent from 2019’s total. Still, the company was able to generate a core operating profit of $6.33 billion.
8. Prudential plc
Country of Origin: U.K.
Total Assets: 55.97 billion6
Number of Employees: 23,000 (2021)7
Prudential plc is a U.K.-based, multi-national insurance and financial services company whose roots go back to the 19th century. The company was founded in London in 1848 where it remains headquartered today.
Prudential plc was originally founded to provide commercial and personal loans to its customer base however, its services have since expanded to include life insurance, investment management, and consumer finance. In 2020, that service combined to generate $55.97 billion in revenue.
Prudential plc owns Prudential Asia8 which conducts business in 14 markets in Asia, five countries (Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, and Nigeria) in Africa, and the United States.
7. Prudential Financial
Country of Origin: USA
Revenue: $57.03 billion9
Number of Employees: 51,00010
The Prudential Insurance Company11 of America is another of the iconic players in the field and yet another whose founding goes back to the 1800s. Founded in 1875 in Newark, New Jersey, Prudential is now one of the leading insurance companies offering comprehensive insurance and financial services including life insurance, mutual funds, retirement, annuity, and real estate.
Prudential’s business operations are broken down into the following divisions: PGIM, the U.S. Workplace Solutions Division, the U.S. Individual Solutions Division, the Assurance IQ Division, International Businesses, and the Corporate and Other operations.
Like many others on our list, 2020 was not a banner year for Prudential in terms of financial reporting. The company saw revenue decrease 12 per cent from $64.8 billion the previous year to just over $57 billion. This resulted in a $146 million loss in net income for the year.
6. Legal & General
Country of Origin: U.K.
Total revenue: $59.62 billion12
Number of Employees: 13,87613
One of the oldest companies on our list, Legal & General is a multi-faceted financial services company with roots tracing back to its founding in 1836 in London, England where it remains headquartered today. The company operates in the following segments: Legal & General Retirement (LGR); Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM); Legal & General Capital (LGC); and Legal & General Insurance (LGI).
The LGI division caters to UK retail protection, group protection, and network business. The combined operations for Legal & General earned $59.62 billion in revenue in 2020. That represents of drop in revenue of nearly 25 per cent from 2019.
In 2020, the company sold Legal & General Insurance to Allianz, one of our other entrants on this list.
5. Japan Post Insurance
Country of Origin: Japan
Total Revenue: $65.46 billion14
Number of Employees: 7,63815
Japan Post Insurance16 represents the newest company to make the top ten. Founded in October 2007 in Tokyo, Japan Post Insurance Co., Ltd. was launched as the life insurance division within the Japan Post Group of companies. Each of the divisions within the group was created as its own company.
The Japan Post Insurance Company earned $65.46 billion in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, through a combination of insurance premiums, outside investments, and other revenue. That figure marked an almost nine per cent drop from the previous year.
Country of Origin: USA
Total Revenue: $67.84 billion17
Number of Employees: 48,00018
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company19, more commonly known as MetLife is one of the oldest and largest providers of insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs. First launched in New York City in 1868, the company has since grown to serve more than 90 million customers in over 60 countries.
The MetLife group of companies offer life, accident, and health insurance, as well as retirement and savings products through agents, banks, brokers, and direct marketing channels. That combined effort drew in $67.84 billion in revenue in 2020, marking a three per cent drop from the previous year’s total of $69.62 billion.
MetLife’s seemingly ubiquitous presence in the global financial arena is underscored by the fact they serve 90 of the top 100 FORTUNE 500 companies in the United States.
Country of Origin: France
Total Revenue: $112.4 billion20
Number of Employees: 160,00021
Axa S.A.22 is a French multinational insurance company that was founded in 1816 and is headquartered in Paris, France.
Axa offers customers a variety of global insurance, investment management, and other financial services. It operates in 57 countries in Western Europe, North America, the India Pacific region, Africa, and the Middle East.
In 2020 Axa earned approximately $112.4 billion in revenue while total shareholders equity increased from 69.9 billion euros in 2019 to 71.6 billion in 2020.
Country of Origin: Germany
Revenue: 165.98 billion23
Number of Employees: 142,46024
Founded in Munich Germany in 1890, Allianz25has gone on to become one of the world’s largest corporations in any sector. Today, it offers a variety of insurance and asset management services. Its commercial insurance products include global corporate customers, credit insurance, assistance services, and re-insurance.
Allianz provides insurance and fund products to 100 million customers in more than 70 countries around the world. The entire company’s 2020 global revenue was a staggering $165.98 billion which marks a slight decrease of 1.35 per cent from the previous year.
Allianz saw an operating profit of 10.8 billion euros and a net income of 6.8 billion euros.
1. Berkshire Hathaway Inc
Country of Origin: USA
Total Revenue: $245.51 billion
Number of Employees: 389,300
Topping our list is Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, one of the largest and best-known, privately-owned firms in business today. The insurance industry has long been one of Berkshire Hathaway’s most important cornerstones. Through its various insurance companies, Berkshire Hathaway provides life, accident, and health reinsurers, as well as internationally based property and casualty reinsurers.
The main insurance companies in the Berkshire Hathaway tent are GEICO (acquired in 1996), Gen Re (1998), NRG (former Dutch-owned company acquired in 2007), and Berkshire Hathaway Assurance, a bond insurance company created in-house which issues municipal and state bonds.
Berkshire’s insurance companies are well known for maintaining very high levels of capital strength. This helped them generate $279.2 billion in revenue for the fiscal year 2020.
2https://group.pingan.com/dam/jcr:29db7075-d1a7-40c8-92fa-242eabf65be2/pingan-ar20-results-presentation.pdf (P.48 listed as 153,542 billion RMB)