The French and life insurance

The French and life insurance: a matter of mutual trust according to an Ipsos-FFA study

With 54 million contracts, 37 million beneficiaries and investments of 1,632 billion Euros, life insurance is the leading financial investment product for the French and a major source of finance for French companies. The French Insurance Federation (FFA) commissioned Ipsos to carry out a study in order to gain a better understanding of French people’s expectations in the areas of savings and life insurance (1).

A savings product with wide appeal
Life insurance is held by savers in all age categories (48% of under-35s, 51% in the 35-59 age range and 62% of those in the 60-plus age group) and in all population categories (48% of craft workers, tradespeople and business-owners, 61% of managers, 53% of technicians and associate professionals, 46% of employees, 44% of workers and 61% of retired people).

A product that satisfies different expectations
On average, life insurance products are held for more than 11 years, providing French savers with a solution for a range of objectives:

  • Preparing for retirement, for 55% of holders in the 35-59 age range.
  • Helping members of their family in the future, for 55% of under-35s.
  • Coping with a loss of independence, for 64% of those aged 60 and over.

A long-term contract of trust between the State and insured parties
An increase in taxation of life insurance would be perceived by French people as breaking this contract of trust. A large majority of holders of life insurance contracts (66%) said that, if that happened, they would turn away from their contracts. A reform that consisted of aligning the rate of taxation of life insurance with that of other savings products (flat tax) is regarded by 77% of French people as a “bad choice”. This rises to 92% among those who have held their contracts for eight years or more.
More than nine out of ten long-term savers are hostile to the idea of abandoning the link between the duration of the contract and its taxation.

According to Bernard Spitz, Chairman of the FFA: “The study carried out with Ipsos shows that the French value life insurance for its simplicity and the security it provides over time. They see it as a veritable “Swiss-army knife for long-term savings”, protecting their wealth from speculative risks and supporting them and their families throughout their lives. Life insurance serves above all to finance companies. So now, more than ever, life insurance provides the economic lungs of the country.”

On insurance and the economy: key figures

  • 59% of insurers’ investments are invested in companies, i.e. €1,350 bn, including €390 bn in shares (2).
  • Financing of small- and medium-sized enterprises and midcap companies has tripled over six years, reaching €63 bn.
  • The share of premiums accounted for by unit-linked products has increased from 12 to 20% over five years.


(1) - FFA-Ipsos study involving 1009 people constituting a representative sample of the French population aged 18 or over, who were questioned over the internet between 17 and 24 February 2017.

(2) - Including shares held by collective investment undertakings.



Key findings of Ipsos’ study for the FFA – 30 March 2017 (PDF)

Ispos’ study for the FFA: The French, savings and life insurance – 30 March 2017 (PDF)

Life insurance: preserving the contract of trust with the French people – March 2017 (PDF)

The financing of companies by insurers (March 2017) (PDF)