What is a mutual?
1. Mutuals are private legal entities
2. Mutuals are grouping of people
Mutuals are not-for-profit organisations, although their financial sustainability is one of their main worries. Therefore, being non- profit oriented, they must also ensure financial surpluses.
Those financial results are not, in a large majority of cases, distributed to their members, but rather reinvested in the mutual activities themselves or used for social support activities in the interest of people in need.
3. The governance of mutuals is democratic
4. The principle of solidarity is important among members
5. Profits are used for the benefit of the members
In the majority of European countries, mutuals are allowed to operate exclusively in (re)insurance markets. This is the case in Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Denmark, Finland (including statutory pensions), Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia. In those countries, mutuals are insurers.
In Belgium, Greece, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg and Portugal, a distinction is made between insurance mutuals and mutual benefit societies.
The importance of mutuals in Europe
Mutuals account for roughly 16% of the European insurance market (13% in life and 21% in non-life insurance) or around 180 billion euro in premiums. They manage around 1160 billion euro in assets and employ over 200,000 people. Some mutual insurers are among the largest insurance companies.
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