Protection Premiership 2000-2025

  1. Term 2020. The market in 2020.
  2. Term 2000, 2010, 2020. The top 5.
  3. Critical Illness. The top 5.
  4. Term 2025. Who will be top 5 in 2025?
  5. Income Protection. Not yet written.
  6. Whole Life. Not yet written.

The term top 5 in 2000, 2010, 2020

This article looks at the top 5 in 2000, 2010 and 2020. Where are those companies now? What about other years? What have been the trends over time?

I would like to acknowledge and thank Ron Wheatcroft of Swiss Re for fielding a number of data queries. Any errors and views expressed here are my own.

Top 5: 2000, 2010, 2020

The raw numbers are:

Top 5 term players: 2000, 2010, 2020

Aside: TermWatch 2000 included life term, while critical illness appeared in HealthWatch. For consistency with 2010 and 2020 I have added in critical illness sales to term in 2000.

History and company names

Company names used are generally the modern equivalents. So, for example, Aviva appears in 2000, even though it was until 2009 Norwich Union.

In 2000 Scottish Widows demutualized, joining the Lloyds TSB Group, now Lloyds Banking Group. It left the IFA protection market in 2007, but re-entered in 2016 after a long gestation period. HSBC’s bank-related protection sales have fallen and it entered the IFA protection market in 2019.

Scottish Provident was perhaps the outstanding IFA protection player of the late 1990s; from being a “sleepy mutual” it became Swiss Re’s largest global client. It had an interesting history, being acquired by Royal London in 2008. Royal London had set up its own protection insurer in 2003: combined sales are shown in 2010. Royal London grew strongly in 2020.

After a short protection presence, Axa sold its life business in 2016. Very much still with us are AIG, which entered in 2015, with its purchase of Ageas Protect, while Zurich’s protection business is seemingly increasingly important to UK profits.

Big picture: 2000-2020

Term sales are down. This is partially explained by sales in 2000 including whole life — first reported separately in 2003. We may try to adjust for this later.

Market share of top 5 is up. The top 5 share has increased from 52.6% to 73.4% over the 20 years, but more that 75% of this gain has been taken by the top company.

Long term protection success is elusive. This is illustrated by:


  1. A future article will cover prospects for those outside the top 5.
  2. Scottish Provident was eventually acquired by Royal London

But success is there to be seized. With the top 5 share growing someone has to succeed. The top 5 share grew from 68.1% to 73.4% but L&G’s share grew from 22.7% to 32.7%: L&G captured market share from positions 2-5 (in aggregate) and from outside the top 5.

Drilling down: 2000-2020

The table below shows all insurers who have occupied a top position for any of the 21 years 2000-2020. As a check the sum of the Top5entries column is 105 = 21 * 5.

Top 5 2000-2020

The YearExit column is set to 2020 if the company is still a top 5 player based on 2020 sales. Over the time period only two companies have been ever-presents.

Aviva (as Norwich Union) was the top player over 2000-2002. It was a consistent 2nd over 2003-2019 and 3rd in 2020, with AIG snapping at its heels.

L&G was 3rd in 2000 (due to being top for critical illness) was 2nd for the next two years and then took top spot over 2003-2020. Hard not to be impressed.

Where next?

I aim to provide coverage of critical illness, income protection and whole life and perhaps more speculative material on what it takes to be top 5.

Meanwhile, a non-exhaustive list of UK individual protection companies:

Current players