The Dutch pension and insurance sector is the third largest of the euro area, recent data of De Nederlandsche Bank (and the European Central Bank) show.
At end-March 2011, total assets of the euro area pension and insurance sector ran to EUR 7,025 billion. France leads the pack with EUR 1,980 billion in total assets, followed by Germany at EUR 1,909 billion and the Netherlands at over EUR 1,200 billion, or 17% of the euro area total (see Chart).
The relatively large share of the Netherlands is mainly due to the size of Dutch pension funds, which with total assets of EUR 790 billion rank first among the euro area nations. The assets are in the form of collective pension schemes managed by industry-wide, company and occupational pension funds. The bulk of pension provisions are in the nature of defined benefit agreements, where a pension fund commits itself to pay its members a certain (nominal) pension benefit. In the rest of the euro area, defined benefit agreements cover about two-thirds of pension provisions, while one-third takes the form of defined contribution agreements, which specify members’ pension contributions rather than the eventual benefit they receive.
At EUR 410 billion in total assets, the Dutch insurance sector is also large, coming in fourth after its French, German and Italian peers. Insurers are also active in the pension business: many companies have made collective pension contracts with life insurance companies, and then there are individual pension saving policies, such as annuity contracts. In all, nearly EUR 100 billion in pension reserves has thus been entrusted to Dutch life insurers. In addition, of course, insurers also sell life insurance policies and nonlife policies including health care policies.