Switzerland's insurance industry is one of the country's major success stories. It is tightly regulated by the government and is very conservatively managed, making it solid and highly profitable.
It was able to withstand the global financial crisis which began in 2008 and it actually had something of a stabilising effect on the financial industry as whole in Switzerland.
In recent years it has enjoyed continued growth, and figures from the Swiss Insurance Association (SIA) show that it experienced another successful year in 2013.
There was a strong performance across both the life and non-life insurance segments, which came in spite of challenging regulatory framework conditions and a low interest rate environment.
So how has the Swiss Insurance industry been able to maintain its strength throughout turbulent times, and what kind of challenges does it face in the future?
A driving force behind the Swiss economy
The Swiss Insurance sector is said to be one of the eight most important industries in the country, making a substantial contribution to its overall economic prosperity. In fact, in terms of productivity, the chairman of the SIA, Urs Berger, claims insurance firms are actually at the top of the list.
As his organisation points out, private insurance companies in Switzerland help to drive economic growth in a number of ways, boosting the public coffers by around CHF 1.2 billion every year.
They also help society to accumulate wealth by creating jobs and driving home ownership, and they take on risks from entrepreneurs, which unlocks capacity and facilitates growth and innovation.
In 2013, the industry generated CHF 20 billion of gross value added, which is equivalent to a four per cent share of the entire Swiss economy and demonstrates just how big an impact its success can have on the health of the nation.
What does the sector look like?
Swiss private insurance companies are regulated by the Swiss Federal Bureau of Private Insurance, which is a government body with a reputation for stringency. It makes safety and security for investors a top priority, and as a result Swiss insurance firms are extremely conservative.
Not one has failed in the 150-year history of the industry, and because of this they are among the safest and most respected institutions in the world.
The latest available figures from the SIA show that in 2013, the Swiss Insurance industry employed 122,424 people, both in Switzerland and abroad.
Around 77 national and international insurers are members of the SIA, and together they account for more than 90 per cent of private insurance premiums generated in the Swiss market.
Swiss consumers spend a lot of money on insurance and some forms of cover, such as unemployment insurance and health insurance, are compulsory.
Insurers in the country do, however, earn a great deal of their profits by operating in other countries. Indeed, Switzerland is one of Europe's biggest insurance exporters.
Growth in 2013
According to the SIA, the Swiss insurance industry put in another "gratifying performance" last year. There was steady growth in income from non-life insurance, with premium volumes rising 1.6 per cent to follow a similar pattern to previous years.
The figures were particularly solid in the high-volume motor insurance and fire insurance segments where volumes were up 2.1 % and 2% respectively.
But it was life insurance that generated the best results for the year. The SIA expects the life insurance business as a whole to have grown by 5.4% in 2013.
The figures show a marked rise in demand for group life insurance, with premium income in this area rising 7.9%. Single premium volumes were up by 12% while regular premium volumes increased by 2.6%.
Declines were seen in the area of individual life policies and an overall loss of 1.2 % is anticipated. While regular premium volumes dropped by just 0.1 per cent, single premium volumes were down 3.8%.
However, these declines are in line with previous years, and the SIA puts them down to a 2.5% stamp duty on individual life insurance products - a duty it has wanted to see abolished for some years now.
The Swiss Private Insurance industry faces a number of challenges in the years ahead, and persistently low interest rates is one of them. The Swiss National Bank has maintained rates at close to zero for three years now, and they are likely to remain low for the remainder of 2014.
There are also concerns over a perceived increase in regulation since the global financial crisis. While the Swiss Federal Bureau of Private Insurance's stringent approach is seen as a factor in the industry's strength, insurance firms themselves believe things are going too far.
A study carried out last year by the research institute BAKBASEL highlighted growing uncertainty regarding the regulatory framework and a worry that stricter regulation could place Swiss insurance companies at a disadvantage on the world stage.
Lucius Durr, Chief Executive of the SIA, said: "The many projects aimed at regulating the industry - some of which are excessive - must not be allowed to jeopardise the pulling power and the stability of the insurance sector. That would have serious consequences, ultimately for the entire economy."
The SIA believes that in order to overcome these challenges, a new regulatory strategy is required; one that - according to chairman Urs Berger - "defines clear objectives and practical regulatory principles" and is developed through dialogue with the supervisory authority.
Finally, there are recruitment challenges for the industry. There is a growing scarcity of insurance specialists worldwide, and the Swiss industry will not be exempt from the impending skills shortage. This will of course create some new opportunities for professionals with the necessary expertise.
Regardless of these trials and potential bumps in the road, it seems the Swiss insurance market is set to enjoy continued growth in the months and years ahead and will no doubt carry on making its positive contribution to Switzerland's economic strength.