Frankfurt / Main (dpa) - The meltdown in interest rates for life insurance is accelerating.

According to a draft ordinance by the Federal Ministry of Finance, life insurers should be able to promise their customers a maximum annual interest rate of 0.25 percent on new contracts from January 1, 2022.

The guaranteed interest rate is currently 0.9 percent.

A reduction would have particularly serious consequences for new Riester contracts.

The industry is therefore calling for a reform.

Consumer advocates criticize what they consider to be too high costs.

Own contributions and state allowances must be 100 percent guaranteed with the Riester model.

This is required by law.

The problem is the cost.

The interest only relates to the savings portion after deducting acquisition and administrative costs and the contribution for death protection.

Interest is only paid on this sum.

If the guaranteed interest rate for new contracts is 0.25 percent, however, because of the costs, hardly any insurer will be able to guarantee that future Riester savers will get 100 percent of the premiums paid back.


The Federal Ministry of Finance wants to send the draft regulation, which is available to the German Press Agency, to the departments this Thursday.

Old contracts are not affected by a lowering of the guaranteed interest rate - known in technical terms as the maximum technical interest rate.

The guaranteed interest rate is part of the life insurance interest rate, which has been falling overall for some time.

Its purpose is to prevent insurance companies from taking over with guarantee promises.

You can offer new customers less, but not more.

"If the maximum technical interest rate is lowered and the 100 percent premium guarantee is retained at the same time, there will be major problems from 2022 that would lead to a de facto burial of the Riester pension," said the general manager of the German Insurance Association (GDV), Jörg Asmussen on Wednesday.

At least a partial reform is necessary during this legislative period.

The association has long been calling for the premium guarantee to be reduced to 80 percent.


From the point of view of consumer advocate Dorothea Mohn, the planned reduction in the guaranteed interest rate "makes it clear once again how little insurance is suitable for private old-age provision."

Mohn rejects a reduction in the contribution guarantee for the Riester pension.

"Consumers would lose twice as a result," said the head of the financial market team at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv).

“If the maximum technical interest rate falls, then the providers of the products would have to cut their costs.

But they are not ready for that. "

In the opinion of the actuaries of the German Actuarial Association (DAV), however, most companies will have to withdraw from business without reform.

"The banks are already no longer offering Riester products, the fund companies are increasingly getting out, and according to data from the Assekurata rating agency, 40 percent of life insurers no longer offer Riester pensions," said DAV chairman Guido Bader.

In view of the slack interest rates, insurers are finding it increasingly difficult to generate the high commitments of the past on the capital market.

Many insurance companies do not offer contracts with classic guaranteed interest rates for new business.


Because for owners with lucrative old contracts nothing changes on this point, there is still up to 4 percent.

The interest only relates to the savings portion after deducting acquisition and administrative costs and the contribution for death protection.

The first insurance companies have since said goodbye to the full guarantee of the contributions paid.

Since the beginning of 2021, a guarantee of less than 100 percent has applied to new contracts.

They only exist where they have previously been prescribed by law or contractually agreed: with the Riester pension and the company pension scheme.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210324-99-954282 / 2