What is a Mutual?
A mutual is an insurer that is owned and/or controlled by its members who are also called policyholders, and acts in the best interest of those members.
Typically, a mutual insurer does not have external shareholders.
Thanks to this, a balance between the aims of offering quality insurance products to policyholders and generating profits can be easily maintained; all profits generated are put back into the mutual and used to the benefit of its members.
A mutual is further defined by the key principles of solidarity, democratic governance and sustainability. Mutual members/policyholders have a say in how the mutual/cooperative operates, and members generally are treated with equality. The close relationship with their members means that mutual insurers listen to the needs of their members, and can respond quickly with appropriate products and actions.
Mutual insurers act in a socially responsible way, engaging in societal activities. This extends to their investment activities and is reflected in long-term sustainable policies.
Due to their orientation towards long-term investments because they are not required to generate dividends, mutuals also provide stability within financial markets.
Mutual Insurance in Europe
The mutual insurance model is not legally recognised in all EU Member States. Even so, some of the oldest insurance companies in Europe are mutuals, reflecting the long-term nature of the form and the stability of structure.
Approximately half the insurance firms in Europe are mutuals or cooperatives or their subsidiaries and they represent approximately 400 million members/policyholders underwriting more than €400 billion in insurance premiums. One-third of all insurance in Europe is placed with insurance companies which follow the mutual/cooperative model and the mutual market share has been increasing over the last decade.
Mutual and cooperative insurers in Europe are involved in all lines of insurance and pensions business. They range from some of the largest insurers in Europe, providing insurance to commercial and personal customers across many types of products and several countries, to some of the smallest, offering specialised insurance to a specific group of members. This group may be limited by the type of insurance on offer or its location.
Facts & Figures
Europeans covered by mutual insurance
Value of total insurance premiums in Europe
people employed in quality jobs by mutual/cooperative sector
Mutuals as a percentage of total insurance undertakings in Europe
AMICE representation of mutual insurance sector in Europe