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Insurance companies cautiously upbeat

Insurance companies continued to grow in 2008, the Swiss Insurance Association reported on Tuesday.

Life insurance business rose by 2.3 per cent in comparison with 2007 to reach SFr29.4 billion ($26.2 billion), but insurance against loss or damage rose by only 0.5 per cent, held back by growing competition in a largely saturated market.

Despite the increase in income from premiums, most insurance companies have reported heavy losses on their investments as a result of the financial crisis.

However, they got rid of many of their shares, which meant they were less badly hit than many pension funds have been.

Association chairman Erich Walser said the branch was cautiously optimistic about 2009, although the economic crisis would mean that the total value of insured items would decrease.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR