CNP Assurances Essay

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CNP Assurances is a French personal insurance company that offers both life and nonlife insurance products and services. It is headquartered in Paris, and in 2008 employed 3,200 people. The origins of CNP Assurances can be traced back to three state-owned insurance companies: the Caisse nationale d’assurance en cas d’accident (specialization: accident insurance) was established in 1868; the Caisse nationale d’assurance en cas de décès (death and disability insurance) was formed in 1848; and the Caisse de retraite pour la vieillesse (retirement pensions) was created in 1949.

The French government merged its death and disability and retirement insurance companies in 1949 to form the Caisse nationale d’assurance sur la vie. In 1959, this company was merged with the government’s accident insurance company to create the Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance (CNP) and integrated into the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), a financial institution that performs public-interest missions on behalf of France’s central, regional, and local governments.

In the early 1990s, the government decided to partially privatize CNP. In preparation for this change, the company was reorganized and renamed CNP Assurances. In an initial move, the state transferred 58 percent of its shares in the company to the CDC, the national postal service (La Poste), and the Caisses d’Epargne banking group. An initial public offering was conducted in 1998, which saw the state selling a further stake in CNP to the general public. The IPO enabled the CDC, La Poste, and Caisses d’Epargne to raise their stakes in the company to their current levels (CDC, 39.88 percent; La Poste and Caisses d’Epargne, 35.48 percent; general public; 23.44 percent: French state, 1.09 percent).

In the mid-1990s, the company began a period of international expansion. In 1996 it purchased a 26 percent stake in Polish life insurer Polisa-Zycie, raising this to 46 percent in 1997. In 2001 CNP moved into the Brazilian market, purchasing a 51 percent stake in the insurer Caixa Seguros. In 2002 CNP partnered with China Post to create the Sino-French Life Insurance Company and offer savings and insurance products in Beijing’s post offices. In 2007 CNP Assurances acquired a 94 percent stake in the Spanish insurer Skandia Vida de Seguros y Reaseguros.

In 2008 CNP Assurances consists of three main business divisions. The savings division specializes in retirement savings products and accounts for 80 percent of total revenues. Its personal insurance division provides disability and invalidity coverage, health insurance, and loan insurance and generates 12 percent of total sales. With a market share of over 18 percent and more than 14 million policyholders, CNP is the leading personal insurance company in France.

CNP’s pension division offers long-term savings products, designed to provide supplementary pension benefits in addition to the benefits paid under government-sponsored plans. It also manages the pension funds of French civil servants and local elected representatives. Together, the company’s pension services make up approximately 8 percent of CNP’s total sales.

CNP Assurances has achieved its leading position on the French market by using well-established partners to sell its products. The company has traditionally sold its products primarily through partnerships with state-run financial institutions, including the French Treasury and branches of La Poste, and Caisses d’Epargne. Combined, the 25,000 sales outlets provided by La Poste and the Caisses d’Epargne account for 75 percent of CNP’s total sales.

CNP has also developed additional sales channels. In 2003, for example, the company entered into partnership with Mutualité Française, a major health insurance company, to strengthen its position in the mutual insurance market in France. In 2004 the company formed an alliance with the French retailing group Casino to market personal insurance products to the customers of Casino supermarkets in France. CNP has attempted to replicate this strategy abroad, seeking out well-established partners with strong distribution networks.

The company has also benefited from the recent French reforms to develop privately funded pensions alongside the conventional state-sponsored pension system. The further development of French investments in private retirement provision is expected to bring significant growth potential for the private and company pension provision business of CNP Assurances.


  1. Gilles Benoist, “Bancassurance—The New Challenges,” The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance (July, 2002);
  2. CNP Assurances, “CNP—France’s Leading Personal Insurance Company,” (cited March 2009);
  3. Datamonitor, “CNP Assurances SA” (Datamonitor, 2007);
  4. Bertrand Venard, “The French Insurance Market: Background and Trends,” in Handbook of International Insurance, J. David Cummins and Bertrand Venard, eds. (Springer, 2007).

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