EUROPE – Towers Perrin’s Tillinghast arm says the European insurance industry could stand to benefit from population ageing and poor state pension systems.

“Tillinghast believes the ageing population and the failure of European state pensions systems will have a positive impact on the industry and open up opportunities for growth for European insurers,” the actuarial and consulting firm said in a release.

“As a result of the current low-interest environment and the pension deficit, consumers may now need to plan to save twice as much for retirement, helping to stimulate life industry sales.”

Last week a report from Moody’s Investor Services argued that the UK life insurance industry should be able to benefit from the continuing shift to defined contribution pension schemes.

"Against the backdrop of recurring bad news for European insurers the industry is still alive and kicking, and has a brighter outlook in 2004,” said Richard Batty, European regional manager for Tillinghast.

“Despite the turmoil, European insurers have paid their claims, they are still solvent, and have suffered only minimal downwards ratings in the process.”

In November last year Tillinghast warned that the proposed changes to occupational and personal pensions outlined in the UK government's Green Paper of 2002 would “offer an enormous opportunity to financial advisers” but that the demand for more advice could lead in extreme cases to accusations of mis-selling.