Life & Health Reinsurance

Life & Health Reinsurance (L&H Re) reported a strong net income for 2019 of USD 899 million, compared with USD 761 million in 2018. The underwriting result included a negative adjustment to the carrying value of an existing treaty, which had to be fair valued following the acquisition of Old Mutual Wealth Life Assurance Limited by ReAssure from Quilter plc, reflecting the decrease in interest rates since treaty inception. As a result, L&H Re rebalanced its asset porfolio, realising gains of a similiar magnitude. Excluding this adjustment, the underwriting result was higher than in 2018, driven by active portfolio management and improved mortality developments in the Americas.

The investment result was very strong, reflecting higher net realised gains from sales of fixed income securities and market value gains on equity securities. The return on equity was 12.4%, compared with 11.1% in 2018, above the business segment’s target range of 10–12%.

Life & Health Reinsurance results

USD millions



Change in %





Gross premiums written

14 527

14 452


Net premiums written

12 647

12 734


Change in unearned premiums



Premiums earned

12 683

12 835


Fee income from policyholders




Net investment income – non-participating business

1 305

1 207


Net realised investment gains/losses – non-participating business




Net investment result – unit-linked and with-profit business



Other revenues



Total revenues

14 455

14 961










Life and health benefits

–10 280

–10 587


Return credited to policyholders



Acquisition costs

–2 045

–1 975


Operating expenses




Total expenses before interest expenses

–13 088

–13 470






Income before interest and income tax expense

1 367

1 491


Interest expenses




Income before income tax expense


1 046


Income tax expense




Net income before interest on contingent capital instruments




Interest on contingent capital instruments, net of tax




Net income attributable to common shareholders








Management expense ratio in %




Net operating margin in %





Net premiums earned and fee income in 2019 increased by 1.3% to USD 13.0 billion from USD 12.8 billion for the prior year. Gross premiums written decreased by 0.5% to USD 14.5 billion, reflecting unfavourable foreign exchange movements and the termination of an intra-group retrocession agreement with Life Capital. Adjusting for these two items, gross premiums written increased by 5.6%.

Net operating margin

The net operating margin for 2019 was 10.0%, an increase from 9.4% in 2018 due to strong investment performance.

Management expense ratio

The management expense ratio was 5.2%, a decrease from 5.4% in 2018, reflecting lower operating expenses and higher premium volumes.

Lines of business

Income before interest and income tax (EBIT) for the life segment decreased to USD 581 million for 2019, from USD 720 million in the prior year. The result in 2019 was adversely impacted by the carrying value adjustment following the acquisition of Old Mutual Wealth Life Assurance Limited by ReAssure. Excluding this item, the result benefited from active portfolio management and improved mortality developments in the Americas.

EBIT for the health segment was USD 258 million in 2019, compared with USD 355 million in the prior-year period. The 2019 result reflected the impact from an update of the assumptions for the Group business in Asia, experience and model improvements in EMEA and increased operating expenses in line with premium growth.

Premiums earned by line of business, 2019

Total: USD 12.8 billion

Premiums earned by line of business 2019 (bar chart)
Premiums earned by line of business 2018 (bar chart)

Investment result

The return on investments for 2019 was 5.0%, up from 3.7% in 2018, reflecting an increase in the investment result of USD 480 million.

Net investment income decreased slightly by USD 15 million to USD 1 113 million in 2019. The running yield for 2019 was 3.3%.

Net realised gains were USD 687 million for 2019, compared with USD 192 million for the prior period, with the current period positively impacted by gains from sales of fixed income securities and market value gains on equity securities.

Insurance-related investment results as well as foreign exchange gains/losses are not included in the figures above.

Shareholders’ equity

Shareholders’ equity increased to USD 8.3 billion as of 31 December 2019 from USD 6.3 billion as of 31 December 2018. The increase of USD 2.0 billion reflects a change in net unrealised gains and net income for the period, partly offset by the dividend paid to the Group.

Return on equity was 12.4% in 2019, up from 11.1% in 2018.


The Business Unit expects increases in life and health treaty reinsurance new business to be driven by high-growth markets, with more modest growth in mature markets. In mature markets, the prolonged low interest rate environment continues to have an unfavourable impact on long-term life business. Cession rates are expected to be broadly stable in major markets. The Business Unit sees a continued strong focus of clients on capital, risk and balance sheet optimisation in mature markets, leading to ongoing opportunities for large transactions.

Swiss Re will continue to pursue growth opportunities in high-growth markets and in large transactions, including longevity deals. L&H Re is responding to the expanding need for health protection driven by ageing societies, and is applying its risk knowledge to help reduce the protection gap in all regions.

Since the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, we observe changes in the volumes of new business sales in some markets due to the reduced personal interaction between consumers and sales agents. The situation is changing rapidly and Swiss Re is closely monitoring developments.