Cautious forecasts for 2011

While the economic recovery which started in 2009 continued and became stronger in 2010, economic analysts expect momentum in the eurozone to let up somewhat in 2011. Specifically, growth in the eurozone, which was primarily supported by a surprisingly sound German economy in 2010, may slow to 1.4%–1.7% in the current year. In Austria as well, GDP growth is expected to soften slightly to 1.9% in 2011; the current forecast for Germany is 2.5%. According to the latest forecasts, the USA, where economic momentum finally picked up noticeably, may significantly outpace the euro region in 2011 with a gain of 3.0% to 3.6%. China will hold its place as the world’s major economic mover with expected GDP growth of approximately 10%. Worldwide, economic output should grow by 4.2% in 2011.

A further improvement is expected in Central and Eastern Europe in 2011. The difference in the growth rates of the CEE and the established markets of Western Europe is also expected to continue to increase by approximately 2% per annum in the years to come. In the CEE countries as a whole, economic growth may accelerate somewhat again after an average gain of about 3% in 2011.

Consistent with the slight softening of the economy, somewhat weaker premium growth of 1.7% overall is currently forecast for the Austrian insurance industry in 2011. Health insurance is expected to continue growing by 2.8% while premiums in property and casualty may decline by 2.0%. The negative trend in life insurance will continue with an expected drop in premiums of 1.1%. Motor vehicle insurance should also have positive growth of 0.6% in 2011.