NU Online News Service, March 3, 2005, 3:36 p.m. EST

A new universal private pension account program could boost life insurance sales in Europe’s fourth biggest life market.[@@]

Timour Boudkeev, a senior analyst in the London office of Moody’s Investors Service, reaches that conclusion in an industry outlook review focusing on Italy.

In Italy, employers must set aside “severance provisions” for employees each year.

The Italian life market has been growing about 20% per year over the past 5 years, and Italy’s new Law 243/2004, could create room for further growth by allowing Italian employees to shift the annual severance provisions, or “trattamento di fine rapporto,” into private pension funds each year, Boudkeev writes.

Many of the private pension funds are managed by Italian life insurers, Boudkeev reports.

Meanwhile, most Italian life insurers have little debt and cautious portfolio investment strategies, Boudkeev writes.