Basic Information

  • Population: 82 million
  • Location: Europe
  • Primary Language: German
  • Capital: Berlin

Germany’s Insurance Industry

Quick Background

According to a paper by research firm Econstor, the private and public insurance sectors began to develop in Germany in the 16th century, when the first mutuals were organized to provide fire insurance to guild members. The first public insurer in Germany, the Hamburger General-Feuercasse, was established in 1676. 

In 1821, the Gothaer Feuerversicherungsbank and, in 1827, the Gothaer Lebensversicherungsbank (today Gothaer Group) were both founded by Ernst Wilhelm Arnoldi and organized as mutuals. This set the stage for the numerous mutuals that were created across all insurance lines during the second half of the nineteenth century.

The first commercial insurers were created in Germany in 1765. These insurers focused on sea transport and were headquartered in Hamburg and Berlin. Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, life insurance began to enter the market, influenced, in part, by mathematical discoveries centered on probability theory. The nineteenth century was marked by the further evolution of the commercial insurance industry, mostly active in transport insurance, fire insurance, and life insurance. A significant fire in Hamburg in 1842 led to the first reinsurers in Germany.  

Following the two world wars, the German insurance market suffered a heavy blow, losing hundreds of established insurers, scattering the market, and driving many insurers west. No functioning state insurance supervision authority was in place until 1951. 


Today, Germany is one of the three largest insurance markets in Europe, along with the UK and France, and the sixth largest insurance market in the world, according to a 2018 study by EY. 

One of the things that makes the German insurance market unique is the collaboration between the Federal Government and Germany’s 16 Federal States. This impacts regulation and oversight of the German insurance market as well as foreign players who want to operate in the market. Because of this, Germany is one of the more difficult regulatory environments to enter in Europe.

Major Players

Germany is home to some of the world’s largest insurance and reinsurance companies, including Allianz and Munich, which are both German owned. Here are some of the biggest players in the German insurance/reinsurance market.

  • Allianz (German owned, based in Munich)
  • ARAG (German owned, based in Düsseldorf)
  • AXA (French owned, based in Cologne)
  • DKV (German owned, based in Cologne)
  • Generali Deutschland (German owned, based in Munich)
  • Gothaer (German owned, based in Cologne)
  • Munich Re (German owned, based in Munich)
  • ERGO (German owned, based in Düsseldorf) **part of Munich Re
  • Talanx (German based, based in Hanover)

Regulation

The German insurance market is regulated by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), which regulates and monitors the overall financial sector to ensure long-term stability and overall health. 

Specifically in the insurance market, BaFin focuses on ensuring:

  • the interests of the insured are adequately safeguarded
  • the obligations under insurance contracts can be fulfilled at all times
  • the business operations are properly conducted and statutory provisions are met

Its key interest in the insurance market is ensuring that insurers are properly solvent, monitoring insurers to make sure they ‘establish adequate technical provisions, invest their assets in accordance with the ‘prudent person principle’ and observe the principles of good business practice.’

Germany’s federalist system means the insurance industry is regulated by both the Federal Government and the Federal States, of which there are 16. BaFin operates on behalf of the Federal Government, focusing on private insurance undertakings of economic significance as well as public insurance undertakings that engage in open competition and operate across the borders of any Federal State in the German market. The Federal States function mainly as supervisory authorities, responsible for supervising public insurers whose activities are limited to the specific Federal State in question as well as private insurance undertakings of less economic significance.

Insurtech in Germany

The insurtech market in Germany boasts over 130 startups. According to a recent report by Oliver Wyman, the market has been relatively stagnant in recent years as the overall insurtech market stabilizes, the number of new entrants decreases, and some insurtechs exit or pivot in the market.

(source: Oliver Wyman)


Despite being slow to pick up, the financing opportunities in the German insurtech market have picked up, particularly with the 111 million euro funding round of wefox. The majority of funding for German insurtechs comes from foreign investments, particularly from the US and UK. 

Most of the insurtechs gaining traction in Germany have yet to expand beyond Germany’s borders. The first foreign insurtech to land in the German insurance market was US-based insurtech Lemonade, which announced its launch in the market in June 2019. 

Lemonade, which partnered with AXA to enter the European market through Germany, had this to say on why it chose this market: “We chose Germany for our first international launch because it combines a very traditional insurance industry, with a very forward thinking, digital-first consumer,” said Shai Wininger, co-founder of Lemonade. “Insurance that is instant, transparent, affordable, and mission-driven has universal appeal, which is why we look forward to launching in many more countries in the months and years to come.”

Germany is also home to a number of insurtech accelerators and hubs, which consolidate government resources, traditional insurers, insurtechs, and industry professionals to promote insurtech and its development. One example is InsurTech Hub Munich, which combines 14 traditional insurers, 2 accelerators, and 25 startups, and is one of 12 digital hubs supported by the Federal Government.

So far, Germany hasn’t produced an insurtech unicorn, a startup valued at $1 billion, but there’s a chance one might appear in the coming years. Despite this, there are a number of significant insurtechs based in Germany:

  • ACTINEO: specializes in bodily injury claims and provides services to the insurance industry, especially in the insurance lines “third party/liability” and “private accident insurance”
  • Coya: a completely digital insurer offering policies to cover bike theft and home contents
  • ELEMENT: creates perfectly tailored, innovative white-label insurance products for a wide range of partners
  • Friendsurance: operates on a peer-to-peer insurance concept, which rewards small groups of users with a cash back bonus at the end of each year they remain claimless
  • FRIDAY: offers innovative, digital car insurance with features like kilometer accurate billing, monthly terminability, and completely paperless administration
  • Getsafe: its tech uses AI to help customers identify the insurance protection they might need, currently covering renters insurance and liability insurance
  • Wefox: works with insurance brokers, agencies, and individuals through a digital platform that allows for simple and personalised consultations for all types of insurance

Insurtech Highlight: wefox


Wefox is a completely digital, all in one insurance solution that  works with insurance brokers, agencies, and individuals for simple and personalised consultations for all types of insurance. By leveraging AI and other technologies, wefox helps individuals manage and customize their insurance portfolio in one, easy to use platform.

The insurtech raised 111 million euros in a Series B round in March 2019 from Mubadala’s European Ventures Fund. This is one of the largest funding rounds for a German insurtech to date. 

“This investment enables us to continue developing our core technology, which includes AI capabilities that will connect customers with the right insurance and automatically process claims all in near real-time making the whole process easier, simpler and safer for our customers,” said wefox Group founder and CEO, Julian Teicke.


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