INTERVIEW: Erwin HAMMERBACHER CEO, BCR Asigurari de Viata
Erwin HAMMERBACHER: The Romanian insurance market is well regulated but dominated by general insurance and car insurance products. Nevertheless, latest developments from all insurance companies show in the last period an increase of the life insurance segment and the health insurance segment as well.
People in Romania spend in the average less than 20 EUR a year for life insurance. Comparing this insurance density with the average density of 70 EUR in Central and Eastern Europe or even the average density of life insurance of 1.435 EUR in all 28 European countries the huge growth potential of the Romanian Insurance market becomes transparent.
Usually the positive economic development and the growth of insurance market go hand in hand. People want to protect their achievements and their living standard as well. The economic outlook for Romania is very positive and this is a necessary ingredient of positive market development in the future.
XPRIMM: How do you appreciate the life insurance market's level of development?
E.H.: The density of life insurance in Romania is underdeveloped. But the Romanian macroeconomic data look positive for life insurance development due to available income growing, unemployment ratio decreasing and stable consumer price index. The positive development in the last year was driven by mainly single premium business. The customers begin to accept life insurance in general as complementary solution to traditional saving products offered by the banks and as riskless alternative for investment products on the long-term end.
For a continuous development of Romanian life insurance business state subsidies as in place in most of the European countries would be the right support. Similar state subsidies as it is in place for health insurance or the split the existing amount of 400 EUR between health insurance and life insurance with regular premium, could be the basis for a consistent and solid growth.
Traditional life insurance is an important element of wealth creation. The function to cover biometrical risk and to save money based on guaranteed yields meet the demand of people in Romania and contribute in a similar manner as pension funds to a sustainable pension system.
XPRIMM: What are the main opportunities that you think the life insurers should take advantage of?
E.H.: One challenge is to create the necessary awareness that only life insurance in combination with accident insurance is the only one solution to protect people, kids and families in this country in case of unpleasant events. Death, accidental death, accidental disability destroy unfortunately day by the day the future and the perspectives of individuals, families and kids. Facing the situation that Romania has one of the highest ratios of accidents in Europe the respective customer's financial education and creation of risk awareness must be extended.
The life, accident and health insurance system in total should be considered as a complementary part to the Romanian state insurance system, providing an important support for the access of the population to superior medical services and to create personal security in a highly regulated and supervised manner according to EU principles.
Therefore, the extension of the state subsidies from health to life and accident insurance as well would be appropriate and raises Romanian life insurance industry on a European level.
XPRIMM: How was 2017 for BCR Life Insurance VIG?
E.H.: BCR Life market share increased by 7%, up to 18,21% in 2017, due to ongoing positive development, as a result of an outstanding relationship with BCR.
This growth registered by BCR Life Insurance VIG comes from traditional life insurance volumes sold and also insurance products with the investment component in our portfolio.
Based on this upward trend in the market, BCR Life Insurance VIG has improved its offer for the Life Insurance products by expanding the cover offered and the client segment to whom we address.
XPRIMM: What is the strategy you've adopted for the development of BCR Life Insurance VIG?
E.H.: BCR Life is relying mainly on bancassurance distribution channel. We have a very good cooperation with our strategic partner and access to a huge customer potential.
We see life insurance with regular premium, accident insurance and health insurance as the key driver for sustainable and profitable growth. This fits perfectly to banking initiatives of our strategic partner.
Process efficiency, focus on automation and simplification of products are the base for new digital services in the future.
XPRIMM: What are your main targets for 2018?
E.H.: We consequently execute our strategy. We are adapting the existing product portfolio and we will focus on regular premium volumes in life, accident and health insurance.
XPRIMM: Are you considering launching new products?
E.H.: At the beginning of this year we launched ACTIV+, a traditional life insurance product with regular premium, especially designed to deliver financial support for young families in case of unforeseen events and great misfortunes.
We also intend to adapt existing products (personal accident and health insurance) so that we can offer a new concept design, with improved benefits for individuals, couples and families.
XPRIMM: What are the main distribution channels that you will rely on this year?
E.H.: We have an excellent cooperation with BCR, our strategic partner and we focus on continuous development and extension of this partnership.