NETHERLANDS – The pension fund of Dutch insurance group Achmea (SPA) has announced that it will switch to a collective defined contribution (CDC) plan on 1 January 2014.

Achmea said the shift to CDC, part of a new collective labour agreement (CAO) between the company and unions, would allow it to remove €5.6bn of pension liabilities from its balance sheet.

Under the new plan, the retirement age will be 67, while the yearly pensions accrual will be 2% for all participants. Currently, the pensions accrual of part of Achmea’s workforce is 2.25%.

From 1 January 2014, Achmea will only have to pay the contribution and will be exempt from having to plug any financial shortfall.

However, the insurer said it agreed to provide additional funds – the amount to be established every year – which the pension scheme can use for indexation.

It said the premium for participants would be reduced from 6% to 4% of pensionable salary, and that the franchise – the part of the salary exempt from pensions accrual – would be decreased by €1,000.

Currently, the pension claims have been insured with Achmea Pensions and Life Insurances through a contractual guarantee.

The contract between the employer and the insurer is to expire at the end of this year.

According to Achmea, the unions still need to consult their members about the new pensions agreement.

The pension fund of Achmea has a coverage ratio of 115%, returning 10% on investments in 2012.

The scheme has 12,940 active participants, 11,870 deferred members and 3,250 pensioners, affiliated with insurers such as Interpolis, Centraal Beheer, Zilveren Kruis and FBTO.

According to Marco Simmers, spokesman at Achmea, the company’s intention is to transfer the 3,000 Achmea staff who currently accrue their pension with SBZ, the industry-wide scheme for care insurers, to SPA.

They would start accruing new pensions rights at SPA as of 1 January, but would leave their existing pension claims at SBZ, he said.