The as­so­ci­a­tion in the past year

10 June 2021


Dear readers

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaped the activities of our association in 2020 in a variety of ways. As everywhere else, crisis management was our top priority. Familiar procedures, planned projects and events, ideas for political lobbying – all our plans were thrown out of the window. Daily routines were stopped in their tracks from one day to the next, and it was only over the course of time that we realised that they would not return overnight, if indeed they return at all. Similarly, the pandemic as an issue had a huge impact. It drew our attention to this global social risk and its dramatic effects – and overshadowed the top issues that had previously dominated the Worry Barometer. A few months have passed since then and, with the luxury of distance, we realise that although the way in which the pandemic has taken over our daily lives was unexpected, it does not change everything. However, it has emerged from nowhere as a new top risk in the league table of those challenges that have been keeping our society busy for some time now. And now that it has attained this status, the pandemic will not disappear quickly.

But it is important not to lose sight of the big picture. The reform of the pension system in particular remains an urgent and pressing issue. We cannot afford to delay it any longer at the expense of the younger generations. This is why we have given representatives of the young parties a prominent platform in this year’s annual magazine: they report on their dwindling confidence in the outdated social welfare system and outline how their generation wants to shape the pension system to make it suitable for today’s grandchildren and thus sustainable.

Thomas Helbing, Direktor Schweizerischer Versicherungsverband SVV

Thomas Helbing, Director of the Swiss Insurance Association SIA, looks back on a challenging year for Swiss private insurers.

Whether in the context of the pension system or the commitment to an environment worth living in, sustainability is part of our DNA as private insurers. It has always been of central importance in risk assessment, the drafting of insurance policies and in loss prevention. And as major institutional investors with a long-term investment horizon, the SIA member companies take their responsibility in this area seriously. We spoke with Professor Alexander Braun of the Institute of Insurance Economics at the University of St Gallen on how the impact of a sustainable investment strategy can be proven.

In addition to the two central topics mentioned above, which have been pushed out of the public focus by the pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis was of course the issue dominating the year for us insurers as well. Our reports reflect this, devoting a considerable amount of attention to it. We expect private insurers to have paid at least CHF 1 billion in pandemic-related claims in 2020. At the same time, the global scale of COVID-19 has made it clear to us that when it comes to major risks such as this one – and also with others such as cyber risk, power shortage or earthquake – the principle of risk diversification no longer applies and purely private insurance solutions no longer have a place. During the COVID-19 crisis, the state took on the role of an insurer with its toolbox of hardship measures and short-time work and loss of earnings compensation. The problem is that it did not charge any premiums for this cover in advance, but rather will pass the burden on to the taxpayer and future generations after the event. So far, the tally comes to between CHF 60 billion and CHF 70 billion. This is neither sustainable nor does it inspire the population to take its own precautions for the next crisis. This is why innovative and sustainable solutions are needed now: they must be developed jointly by the state and risk experts in our industry, and then implemented over the coming years. The SIA is ready for this teamwork; the ball is now in the policymakers’ court.

I hope that the articles make for interesting reading.

Thomas Helbling

CEO, Swiss Insurance Association SIA

‘Redistribution in the second pillar runs counter to the principle of sustainability’

SIA chairman Rolf Dörig takes a look at the current challenges facing the Swiss insurance industry. During the pandemic, insurers continued to fulfil their mandate and provide their contractual benefits, and thus support both the economy and society at large in the crisis.


Rolf Dörig, Präsident des Schweizerischen Versicherungsverbands SVV

Rolf Dörig,President of the Swiss Insurance Association SIA, takes a look at the current challenges facing the Swiss insurance industry.