Insurance companies already own huge proportions of real estate and they're looking for more. A little more than one-fourth of the $50 trillion in assets under management at insurance firms is in real estate, according to data provider Preqin. "A number of insurance companies with combined total assets under management of $800 billion are also considering making maiden investments in real estate," the firm said in a report. And they note insurance companies are setting aside more cash to invest in real estate. This month the average allocation to real estate is 6.6% of total assets, but the target is to reach around 10%. Of the 223 insurance companies investing in real estate tracked by Preqin, 67% are interested in direct real estate, 61% are interested in private real estate funds, and 18% already invest in listed property. "An example of an insurance company with a significant allocation to real estate is BNP Assurances," Preqin notes. "Its $5.1 billion real estate portfolio is split 60% to direct real estate, 10% to listed real estate and 30% to private real estate funds." The geographical distribution of insurance companies is quite varied, with 24% based in North America. The majority of insurance companies that invest in real estate are located in Europe with 54% and 22% located elsewhere. Write to Jacob Gaffney. Follow him on Twitter @jacobgaffney