IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Network analysis of the EU insurance sector


  • Ivan Alves
  • Jeroen Brinkhoff
  • Stanislav Georgiev
  • Jean-Cyprien Héam
  • Iulia Moldovan
  • Marco Scotto di Carlo


This paper contains an analysis of the network of the 29 largest European insurance groups and their financial counterparties. Insurance companies have direct exposures to other insurers, banks and other financial institutions through the holdings of debt, equity and other financial instruments. These exposures can cause direct contagion and thereby the spread of systemic risks. This analysis focuses on direct linkages between EU insurers and banks. Sectoral data show that at least 20% of insurers’ assets are investments in banks. As a result insurers are an important source of funding for banks. This paper adds to the expanding research on financial market networks and on systemic risks in the insurance sector. This paper considers these 29 insurers’ top ten exposures for each instrument. They represent about 10% of their total assets, which indicates a low level of concentration. More than half of the reported exposures result from investments in bonds issued by banks. In addition, some insurers have a higher exposure to banks within their own financial conglomerate. Other exposures reported include securities lending transactions and repos (both mostly collateralised with cash), as well as interest rate swaps. The network of insurance groups, banks and other financial institutions displays low interconnectivity overall, compared for instance to the interactions of the largest EU banks alone. The density of the network is relatively low. The characteristics of this network illustrate that credit and funding events cannot be expected to spread easily through direct contagion. The network shows a core-periphery structure, which partly results from the scope of the data collection: only 29 insurance groups reported exposures, and thus they form the core, while institutions from which no information was collected are in the periphery. However, the systemic importance of a few insurance groups stands out. These groups show higher levels of connectivity, proximity to credit events within the network, and importance for financial flows. Network measures for each of these aspects refer to the criteria of interconnectedness and substitutability, which are well-known in the policy debate on the systemic relevance of financial institutions. While the particular form of institutional importance varies significantly across insurance groups, the central role of a few “champions” in this network may require supervisory attention. Size, in terms of total assets and issued capital is an important factor but not the only one, determiningan insurer’s centrality in the network. Measures of the centrality of the banking counterparties also show a positive, non-linear relationship with the size of the banks. Distress in the network, as expected, causes only limited direct contagion. Insurers’ solvency positions are sufficiently large and their concentration of exposures is sufficiently low as to avoid direct contagion from a default of one of their counterparties, ultimately leading to their own default. This is also true for simultaneous distress at their top ten banking counterparties, with the exception of two insurance groups. The analysis presented is partial, as it relies only on the information collected. In particular, the analysis would benefit from including the exposures of banks and other financial institutions to insurers. This could be a useful enhancement for consideration in the future. JEL Classification: L14, G18

Suggested Citation

  • Ivan Alves & Jeroen Brinkhoff & Stanislav Georgiev & Jean-Cyprien Héam & Iulia Moldovan & Marco Scotto di Carlo, 2015. "Network analysis of the EU insurance sector," ESRB Occasional Paper Series 07, European Systemic Risk Board.
  • Handle: RePEc:srk:srkops:201507

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ivan Alves & Stijn Ferrari & Pietro Franchini & Jean-Cyprien Heam & Pavol Jurca & Sam Langfield & Sebastiano Laviola & Franka Liedorp & Antonio Sánchez & Santiago Tavolaro & Guillaume Vuillemey, 2013. "The structure and resilience of the European interbank market," ESRB Occasional Paper Series 03, European Systemic Risk Board.
    2. C. Gouriéroux & J.‐C. Héam & A. Monfort, 2012. "Bilateral exposures and systemic solvency risk," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 45(4), pages 1273-1309, November.
    3. Joachim Keller & Antoine Bouveret & Cristina Picillo & Zijun Liu & Julien Mazzacurati & Philippe Molitor & Jonas Söderberg & John Theal & Francesco de Rossi & Romain Calleja, 2014. "Securities financing transactions and the (re)use of collateral in Europe – An analysis of the first data collection conducted by the ESRB from a sample of European banks and agent lenders," ESRB Occasional Paper Series 06, European Systemic Risk Board.
    4. Billio, Monica & Getmansky, Mila & Lo, Andrew W. & Pelizzon, Loriana, 2012. "Econometric measures of connectedness and systemic risk in the finance and insurance sectors," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(3), pages 535-559.
    5. Keller, Joachim & Bouveret, Antoine & Picillo, Cristina & Liu, Zijun & Mazzacurati, Julien & Molitor, Philippe & Söderberg, Jonas & Theal, John & de Rossi, Francesco & Calleja, Romain, 2014. "Securities financing transactions and the (re)use of collateral in Europe – An analysis of the first data collection conducted by the ESRB from a sample of European banks and agent lenders," ESRB Occasional Paper Series 6, European Systemic Risk Board.
    6. repec:dau:papers:123456789/14967 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Hua Chen & J. David Cummins & Krupa S. Viswanathan & Mary A. Weiss, 2014. "Systemic Risk and the Interconnectedness Between Banks and Insurers: An Econometric Analysis," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 81(3), pages 623-652, September.
    8. N. Podlich & M. Wedow, 2013. "Are insurers SIFIs? A MGARCH model to measure interconnectedness," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(7), pages 677-681, May.
    9. Koen Minderhoud, 2003. "Extreme Stock Return Co-movements of Financial Institutions: Contagion or Interdependence?," MEB Series (discontinued) 2003-16, Netherlands Central Bank, Monetary and Economic Policy Department.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Philippe Deprez & Mario V. Wüthrich, 2016. "Macroprudential Insurance Regulation: A Swiss Case Study," Risks, MDPI, vol. 4(4), pages 1-30, December.
    2. Anna Denkowska & Stanisław Wanat, 2020. "A Tail Dependence-Based MST and Their Topological Indicators in Modeling Systemic Risk in the European Insurance Sector," Risks, MDPI, vol. 8(2), pages 1-22, April.
    3. Marco Bardoscia & Paolo Barucca & Stefano Battiston & Fabio Caccioli & Giulio Cimini & Diego Garlaschelli & Fabio Saracco & Tiziano Squartini & Guido Caldarelli, 2021. "The Physics of Financial Networks," Papers 2103.05623,
    4. Anna Denkowska & Stanisław Wanat, 2021. "A dynamic MST-deltaCoVaR model of systemic risk in the European insurance sector," Statistics in Transition New Series, Polish Statistical Association, vol. 22(2), pages 173-188, June.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. G. Hauton & J.-C. Héam, 2014. "How to Measure Interconnectedness between Banks, Insurers and Financial Conglomerates?," Débats économiques et financiers 15, Banque de France.
    2. O. de Bandt & J.-C. Héam & C. Labonne & S. Tavolaro, 2013. "Measuring Systemic Risk in a Post-Crisis World," Débats économiques et financiers 6, Banque de France.
    3. M. Bernardi & L. Petrella, 2014. "Interconnected risk contributions: an heavy-tail approach to analyse US financial sectors," Papers 1401.6408,, revised Apr 2014.
    4. Olivier de Bandt & Jean-Cyprien Héam & Claire Labonne & Santiago Tavolaro, 2015. "La mesure du risque systémique après la crise financière," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 66(3), pages 481-500.
    5. Gaël Hauton & Jean-Cyprien Héam, 2015. "Interconnectedness of Financial Conglomerates," Risks, MDPI, vol. 3(2), pages 1-25, May.
    6. Mauro Bernardi & Lea Petrella, 2015. "Interconnected Risk Contributions: A Heavy-Tail Approach to Analyze U.S. Financial Sectors," JRFM, MDPI, vol. 8(2), pages 1-29, April.
    7. Chang, Carolyn W. & Li, Xiaodan & Lin, Edward M.H. & Yu, Min-Teh, 2018. "Systemic risk, interconnectedness, and non-core activities in Taiwan insurance industry," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 273-284.
    8. Ilham Haouas & Naceur Kheraief & Arusha Cooray & Syed Jawad Hussain Shahzad, 2019. "Time-Varying Casual Nexuses Between Remittances and Financial Development in Some MENA Countries," Working Papers 1294, Economic Research Forum, revised 2019.
    9. Dungey, Mardi & Harvey, John & Volkov, Vladimir, 2019. "The changing international network of sovereign debt and financial institutions," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 149-168.
    10. Berdin, Elia & Sottocornola, Matteo, 2015. "Insurance activities and systemic risk," SAFE Working Paper Series 121, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    11. Martin Eling & David Antonius Pankoke, 2016. "Systemic Risk in the Insurance Sector: A Review and Directions for Future Research," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 19(2), pages 249-284, September.
    12. Alberto Dreassi & Stefano Miani & Andrea Paltrinieri & Alex Sclip, 2018. "Bank-Insurance Risk Spillovers: Evidence from Europe," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 43(1), pages 72-96, January.
    13. Greg Niehaus & Jannes Rauch & Sabine Wende, 2019. "Regulation and the connectedness of insurers to the banking sector: International evidence," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 22(4), pages 393-420, December.
    14. Lorenzo Danieli & Petr Jakubik, 2018. "Early warning system for the European Insurance Sector," EIOPA Financial Stability Report - Thematic Articles 13, EIOPA, Risks and Financial Stability Department.
    15. Anna Paulson & Richard Rosen, 2016. "The Life Insurance Industry and Systemic Risk: A Bond Market Perspective," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 155-174, October.
    16. Mühlnickel, Janina & Weiß, Gregor N.F., 2015. "Consolidation and systemic risk in the international insurance industry," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 187-202.
    17. Aldasoro, Iñaki & Alves, Iván, 2018. "Multiplex interbank networks and systemic importance: An application to European data," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 17-37.
    18. Michele Bonollo & Irene Crimaldi & Andrea Flori & Fabio Pammolli & Massimo Riccaboni, 2014. "Systemic importance of financial institutions: regulations, research, open issues, proposals," Working Papers 2/2014, IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, revised Mar 2014.
    19. Irresberger, Felix & Bierth, Christopher & Weiß, Gregor N.F., 2017. "Size is everything: Explaining SIFI designations," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 7-19.
    20. Ghulam, Yaseen & Doering, Jana, 2018. "Spillover effects among financial institutions within Germany and the United Kingdom," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 49-63.

    More about this item


    network; insurance companies; systemic risk; contagion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:srk:srkops:201507. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Official Publications (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.