Like 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic also caused a significant number of confirmed infections in 2021, both in the Netherlands and worldwide. After the advance of the delta variant in the middle of the year, the omicron variant, with predominantly milder symptoms but more infectious, became the dominant virus variant at the end of the year. The growing immunity through vaccinations, including the booster campaign, and the relatively mild nature of the omicron variant of COVID-19, with less serious consequences, led to a new phase. Alertness remains necessary as COVID-19 has often caused surprises, e.g. with more infectious subvariants.
The Dutch government issued a series of far reaching measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate its impact on the Dutch society and economics. At the same time, uncertainty remains high and economic developments are difficult to predict. The Dutch economy was hit hard by COVID-19 in 2020, but a strong recovery was visible in 2021. The economy was able to show resilience because its core was healthy when COVID-19 struck. With the exception of a few sectors, the extensive government economic relief programme has now been phased out.
In these extraordinary times a.s.r.'s prime concern is the personal well-being of a.s.r.'s customers and employees, their partners and their families. As a leading Dutch insurer, a.s.r. is committed to help its customers through this challenging period and to do everything in its power to help overcome COVID-19 in the Netherlands. a.s.r. is genuinely pleased to see that all business lines continued delivering services to the customers of a.s.r. without interruption despite the switch to hybrid working.
As published in this report, a.s.r. is financially healthy with a solid capital position and these financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis.
In 2021, the indicative impact of COVID-19 on operating result increased by € 78 million to a positive amount of € 77 million (2020: € -1 million).
The positive impact of COVID-19 on operating result increased by € 72 million to an estimated amount of € 93 million (2020: € 21 million). Lower claims in P&C due to COVID-19, particularly in motor and fire, led to an increased positive impact. Technical provisions at Disability were further strengthened this year due to revised expectations with regard to COVID-19 related long-term absenteeism, but less significant compared to last year. At Health, an extra contribution was received from the Health insurance fund, based on article 33 of the Health Insurance Act, resulting in a limited increased positive impact.
The impact of COVID-19 on operating result was less negative and decreased by € 6 million to € -16 million (2020: € -22 million) and thus remained limited. Lower dividend pay-out from property funds and increased rental discounts were partly off set by higher dividend income on equity as a result of financial markets recovery, while previous year equity dividend was under pressure. On annual basis, no observable COVID-19 impact of excess mortality rates was recognised, mainly due to diversification effects between the Individual, Pension and Funeral portfolio.
The COVID-19 developments had a slightly positive impact on the Solvency II ratio (2020: limited impact).
The ultimate impact of COVID-19 on society and results going forward is still difficult to predict reliable, a.s.r. remains cautious for the effects in the longer term.
More detailed information about the financial impact of COVID-19 is disclosed in the notes to the consolidated balance sheet and the notes to the consolidated income statement, if and when applicable.