Insurance increases bigger in Australia

Australians are facing some of the biggest increases in insurance premiums in the developed world, while the nation's banks continue to be the globe's most profitable.

Figures from the Bank for International Settlements show Australia's insurance sector had the biggest increase in premiums in both life and non-life products.

The BIS found premiums in Australia grew 7.1 per cent for non-life products last year. The next highest increase was across US insurers at 4.4 per cent.

Premiums in Britain fell 2 per cent.

Returns on investment by Australian insurers were also the best, as measured by the BIS, at 5 per cent.

Life insurance premiums among Australian firms rose 12.1 per cent, well ahead of second placed US firms at 4.3 per cent.

It's not just insurers doing well out of Australian customers.

The nation's big four banks have continued their run as the world's most profitable.

The BIS found that since 2008 the big four had the highest pre-tax profits.

Last year, during which the big four reported total profits of $27.2 billion, the BIS found they had pre-tax profits that equated to 1.28 per cent of total assets.

Only banks in the US were close to such a good return at 1.24 per cent.

Australian banks enjoyed some of the highest net interest margins, second only to banks in Spain and the US. And though Australian firms have complained about operating costs, the BIS found local banks were among the cheapest operations in the world.

The West Australian

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