If the livret A is the most widespread financial investment among the French, life insurance is by far the most important in value, with outstandings exceeding 1,850 billion euros. An attraction that continues despite the continuous erosion of yields observed in recent years.

1.70% for Afer

On the hotly contested life insurance market, the contract of the French Association for Savings and Retirement (Afer), its 750,000 members and its 56 billion euros in assets, is a benchmark. The announcement Thursday, January 13 of the rate of return of its fund in euros (where savings are fully guaranteed) was therefore eagerly awaited. Remuneration reached 1.70%, as in the previous year.

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This stability is a good surprise. Indeed, life insurance rates seemed condemned to fall further, pulled down by interest rates remaining at low levels. It is therefore the good performance of the part of the funds invested in more risky vehicles that has made it possible to maintain profitability.

Some life insurance contracts even show better results in 2021 than in 2020. With, in the figurehead, the MACSF (Mutual Insurance for Health Professionals). This mutual fund, well established in the medical world, has grilled the politeness of the entire sector by announcing on January 6 an explosive rate of 2.1%. Much better than the 1.55% of the previous year.

The beginning of the end of the decline?

The year 2022 could therefore mark the beginning of the end of the downward movement in yields recorded for years. “We have to remain cautious, but several factors may suggest that we have hit rock bottom,” analyzes Philippe Crevel, director of the Circle of savings. Rising inflation and the prospect of a probable rate hike, in particular, could lead to an inversion of the curve.

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Falling, stable or even rising, the yields announced are still below inflation, which reached 2.8% in 2021. Many of the worst-performing contracts even show rates that are barely higher, or even lower. , that the very low-paying livret A.

Safety before performance

These starving returns and incentives from insurers have already led a growing proportion of savers to choose life insurance with a unit-linked (UA) component. With the hope of higher earnings, but giving up the guarantee of recovering all of the savings invested. These CUs now represent a quarter of life insurance.

If the specialists pay a lot of attention to the rates, it is not necessarily always the priority of the 18 million French holders of life insurance. Tax and inheritance benefits also come into play when choosing an investment.

Above all, underlines Philippe Crevel, “Those who invest their savings in euro funds seek security above all else. Otherwise, given the drop in yields, they would have already gone elsewhere”. However, not only have savers not gone elsewhere, but they continue to invest heavily in life insurance, the outstanding amount of which increased in 2021 by around twenty billion euros.


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