Mutual insurance association

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A mutual insurance association ( VVaG ) is one of the legally permissible legal forms for an insurer in Germany and Liechtenstein . The policyholders are members and sponsors of the association. In exceptional cases, mutual insurance associations can also conclude individual contracts in which the policyholder does not become a member (non-member insurance).

Legal basis

The VVaG is a special legal form for insurers, namely an association that wants to insure its members according to the principle of reciprocity ( Section 171 VAG ). This special legal form of the VVaG, which is only permitted for insurers, is regulated in the fourth chapter of the second part of the VAG. In addition, various other provisions of the applicable law on associations , the Commercial Law , the Company Law and the cooperative law . The VVaG differs from the cooperative in that it is characterized by the objective, the VVaG by the principle of reciprocity. In Germany, cooperatives are banned from doing insurance. Compared to the stock corporation , in which the capital element dominates, the personal element in the sense of a personal association predominates. The VVaG is based on the needs of its members ( Section 176 VAG). Similar to the decision-making body of the general assembly for the shareholders of a stock corporation, the insurance association has the general assembly as the highest body for its members , sometimes also called the general assembly ( § 191 VAG).

The principle of "reciprocity" among the members tends to take a back seat in large mutuals. In contrast, the focus there is on the relationship between the individual member and the legal entity of the VVaG.

The VVaG have simplified regulations for smaller associations that only have a limited sphere of activity, based on factual, local or group of people ( Section 210 VAG). Smaller clubs are z. Sometimes very down-to-earth, local insurers that are operated by small groups of policyholders for direct mutual benefit. Although these are not particularly rich in offers, they are very flexible and very specialized compared to large companies. The regulations then valid for the entire insurance market are repeatedly based on innovations (non-smoking tariffs, health insurance tariffs for vegetarians or the insurance of wind failure for wind turbines).

(Non) registered association compared to VVaG

Similar to the VVaG, but not insurance companies or VVaG, the unregistered and registered associations that z. B. are active as support funds in the health sector. However, they are not allowed to guarantee their services and are therefore not always considered to be insurers that guarantee a certain level of compensation. There is only compensation for damage if and to the extent that the club's treasury allows a payment. In some cases the clubs buy reinsurance from an insurer. With some clubs, a higher membership fee is used to obtain a privileged membership, which includes guaranteed benefits from a traditional insurer (such as traffic clubs ).


In Liechtenstein, the mutual insurance associations and the auxiliary funds are regulated in Articles 496 to 527 of the Law on Persons and Companies (PGR). So-called small insurance associations are dealt with by the PGR in Articles 528 to 533 and, in addition, association law . Small insurance associations are company pension funds or health insurance companies with a narrowly limited sphere of activity, death or livestock insurance associations.


VVaG are the original form of modern insurers. The idea of ​​the VVaG as a legal form goes back to James Dodson (1710–1757), who calculated the first age-dependent contribution table for life insurance contracts. On his initiative, the world's first professional, mathematically-based life insurer was founded in 1762, as well as the first VVaG, the Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorships . The first VVaG in Germany goes back to the businessman Ernst-Wilhelm Arnoldi . When Arnoldi founded the Gothaer Feuerversicherungsbank des Deutschen Handelsstandes , today's Gothaer Versicherung , in Gotha in 1820 , he realized the idea of ​​mutual help: everyone jointly bears the burden of the individual. The policyholders are also the owners of the company. As in the case of cooperative banks, there are no owners who only provide capital, which is why a continuous business policy independent of capital providers is guaranteed in the interests of the members. Necessary business decisions can be made and implemented quickly.

For a number of years, more and more VVaGs have been converted into stock corporations ( demutualization ) around the world, with some delay also in Germany . In this context, there have been repeated disagreements about the compensation to be paid to the previous owners, the policyholders. In a ruling in 2005, the Federal Constitutional Court prescribed changes to the statutory provisions (July 26, 2005, 1 BVR 782/94 and 1 BVR 957/96), but did not demand any changes to the processes that had taken place so far.

Economical meaning

In Germany, around 90 VVaGs were registered in the commercial register in 2015, including small VVaGs that are not subject to registration, there were 254 associations of this type of law (status: 2014).

In the property / casualty line of business their market share was 28% in the past (premium volume 1999: 48 billion euros) and in the life line 23% (59 billion euros). In the field of health insurance (total premium volume of 20 billion euros), VVaG were even clearly ahead of stock corporations with a 52% market share. In the property / casualty line of business, the VVaG posted an above-average increase in premiums of 0.6%, in the life areas as much as 9.4% and in the health line 3.0%. The average return on investment in 1999 of over 179 billion euros was 7.4%. Overall, 58% of the premium volume received on the German market is distributed among insurance companies with the legal form of stock corporations , 11% public insurance companies and 29% mutual insurance associations including their subsidiaries.

The market importance of the VVaG is also expressed in its economic success. Economic success can be measured in key figures. Compared to stock corporations, VVaG have higher growth rates in insurance contracts, operate in lines with lower risk, have lower cost rates and generate more profit. VVaG's balance sheets, measured in terms of total assets, have higher growth rates; according to a study from 1997 (Farny, Cologne) in the case of property and casualty insurers, they show more visible equity , contain more hidden reserves and otherwise cover more solvency . VVaG use their gross pre-tax profit on average at 28% for equity, while stock corporations only use 10% for this. One reason for lower cost ratios (comparative value, especially for life insurances) by insurance associations is the early use of direct sales , which they operated long before internet-based direct deals were made. Thanks to lower acquisition costs (savings in commission for insurance agents and brokers), they were able to keep their cost ratios low.

Advantages and disadvantages of the legal forms

The economic success of the VVaG is one of the main strengths of its legal form and justifies its extraordinary importance for the insurance market.

Since a VVaG has no third-party owners who have claims to the profit generated, any surpluses generated remain in the company or benefit the policyholders as members of the association. On the other hand, a VVaG cannot easily raise capital on the capital market, but has to generate the necessary security funds from its profits itself. This in turn limits his ability to use profits for the benefit of policyholders. In addition, a VVaG cannot easily expand its business within the scope of this restriction, as it first has to create the security measures required for additional business from the existing business.

In international competition, however, the legal form of the VVaG is increasingly proving to be a stumbling block, which is why ambitious VVaG are seeking transformations ( demutualization ) or holding structures .

VVaG must systematically generate the security funds required to hedge against fluctuations in the course of insurance, while stock corporations can take them up on the capital markets at short notice if necessary. VVaG therefore regularly hold particularly high security funds that they systematically build up; only amounts not required for this can be used for the benefit of the policyholder. The development of the VVaG's security means must keep pace with the growth of business; insofar, the VVaG is subject to growth barriers. VVaG therefore have an average solvency significantly above target in the property / casualty segment, so that a large number of VVaG have a coverage ratio of the actual solvency between 250 and 450%. In life insurance the average is between 150 and 200% and in the health line between 200 and 300%. On the other hand, VVaG have no financing costs for these high reserves, as they are to be paid by stock corporations to a considerable extent in the form of dividends for amounts raised on the capital market. Therefore, VVaG hold as much reserves as sensible or necessary, stock corporations as little reserves as justifiable or possible. As long as the VVaG grows evenly and has no major fluctuations in the insurance result, it can therefore offer insurance cover more cheaply than stock corporations. In contrast , high growth, greater diversification and the compensation of strong fluctuations can be better achieved by public limited companies.

VVaG therefore add profits to equity to a greater extent than stock corporations, but do not pay dividends to shareholders in return. In addition, listed profit participation rights are an alternative to raising capital for VVaG . Another way of using the capital market is through the creation of subsidiaries in the form of stock corporations and the bundling of activities in intermediate holding companies. If the volume is sufficient, this even offers the possibility of an IPO.

Working group of mutual insurance associations

Over 60 German mutual insurance associations are part of the consortium of mutual insurance associations. V. (ARGE VVaG) based in Cologne . The main purpose of the ARGE VVaG is to represent those interests of the VVaG that are based on its specific legal form. One of the objectives here is to bring the advantages of the VVaG more into the public discussion and to reduce the disadvantages of the VVaG compared to other legal forms.

See also


  • Gert Andreas Benkel: The mutual insurance association 2nd edition, Munich, C. H. Beck, 2002, ISBN 978-3-406-40104-6
  • Anne Heidelbach: The smaller mutual insurance association Frankfurt a. M., European Science Publishing House, 1994, ISBN 3-631-47006-1

Web links

  • Official website of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Versicherungsvereine auf Mutigkeit e. V. (ARGE)
  • Official website of the Association of Mutual Insurance Associations eV VVaG (VERBAND DER VVAG)
  • Official website of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Rückversicherung der Versicherungsvereine auf Mutual e. V. (ARGE RÜCK)


  1. Dieter Farny: Insurance Management . Verlag Versicherungswirtschaft , Karlsruhe 2011, ISBN 978-3-89952-608-0 , p. 205.
  2. Mutual Insurance Association - History .
  3. Federal Office of Justice: Business development of voluntary jurisdiction - District Courts 1995 - 2015. 2017, accessed on September 30, 2017 .
  4. Statistical Pocket Book of the Insurance Industry 2016. (No longer available online.) Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft eV, 2016, archived from the original on September 21, 2017 ; Retrieved November 3, 2017 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /