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XPRIMM News - THE ROMANIAN INSURANCE MARKET NEWSLETTER
No. 153, April 8th, 2010
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EDITORIAL


AN UNDESERVED DECREASE!

For the first time, the market ends a whole year with a decrease. Not surprising at all, after the signals and tendency recorded quarterly but, subjectively and emotionally speaking: unfair or …unjust.

Unfair for an area that is insufficiently developed in Romania, unjust for a market whose utility is incorrectly perceived and clearly underestimated by the general public.

While dreaming of a market in which life insurance has the same share as general insurance, motor insurance falls on a secondary level and brokers reach the place they deserve...

...while hoping that the first decrease of the market takes place after a long period of growth and regression marks the reach of a development peak, here we are today, noting reductions on all classes with one exception: MTPL!

The context is uncertain. Hope always dies last, and optimists tell us to believe in economic growth in the second half of the year. Realists question whether the crisis can be eliminated only by reducing budget costs. Even so, for insurance it will not be easy at all and the period of economic optimism has ended... and it will have to leave room for pragmatism!

by alex.rosca@mxp.ro

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BCR Asigurari de Viata

Credit Europe Asigurari
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INTERVIEW


Interview with Silvia SIRB,
CEO,
AEGON Asigurari de Viata

XPRIMM: AEGON Asigurari de Viata was launched in Romania in a time of maximum challenge for the profile market, and starting the activity on full speed was definitely an advantage. How would you characterize the evolution of AEGON Asigurari de Viata at a year after the launch, from this perspective?
Silvia SIRB:
AEGON's market objectives for 2009 had in center the building of distribution partnerships. The principles were and are: quality, efficiency and faith in "win-win-win", not quantity. Therefore, my comment addresses this context from a higher level of perspective ("zoom out"). Surprisingly for some, maybe, in this first year we had a revelation, we as insurance company - revelation offered by the business strategy chosen, created based on the over 160 years of experience of the group and on the lessons learned throughout our history in over 40 countries, and colored by the local needs identified in the market in the middle of the economic crisis. In conclusion, it was a fantastic year and the biggest plus for us as a team in Romania is that we proved that IT WAS POSSIBLE!

XPRIMM: At the beginning of this year you said that the stake must be placed on changing the approach of customers, on sales force training and on promotion. What strategies will you apply in this respect?
S. S.:
All our strategies have a common, central point: the customer. It's true that ALL insurance companies say this, but AEGON aims to give a new meaning to this statement, in all respects: brand communication, sales speach, methods of sale, support for our distributors before and after sale and, in particular, products and services offered to clients.

XPRIMM: How would you assess the development perspectives of life and health insurance in 2010?
S. S.:
I don't want to comment in this material on health insurance, in order not to bring negative feelings in these beautiful spring days. In life insurance area, we are still in an emerging stage in Romania. In 2010, I think the secret of success in insurance will depend on the way in which the sales channel architecture will be created - how the concept by which insurers will sell their products will look like and how the products will look like. AEGON is counting on high transparency and simplicity, both of a particular sales speach and of a product easy to be understood, everything in a familiar and natural context, in which the customer will feel good, comfortable and confident.

XPRIMM: How will the lapse rate and, respectively, the new-business volume evolve during 2010?
S. S.:
I said, since our launch on the market, and I repeat it whenever I have the chance that those customers who chose to be our partners in the difficult times of the year 2009 will not leave easily - we have a "deal". They chose AEGON in an informed manner and knowing what they are buying, and this brings us the greatest joy. As lapsing is concerned, we are therefore in a very comfortable position and we are pleased with the quality of our customers. And, as a specialist in sales that I often define myself to be, now it's time for some praise: I think, regarding the lapse rate as a relevant indicator of the insurance market, that AEGON will stay in the top of the statistics from this point of view. For AEGON, the real wave of customers will begin to be felt from the second half of 2010, moment in which our communication and sales strategies will be realized and implemented. 2010 will mean for AEGON an increase of the business volume of at least 3 times.

XPRIMM: How did the Romanians' behavior change in 2009, in the sense of the interest manifested for the protection and savings products, and how do you estimate it will change this year?
S. S.:
As expected, the Romanians' budgets were affected, maybe not as volume, but in terms of segmentation of family expences. The Romanian which in 2008 was a consumer of financial products, in 2009 intended to cut exactly on this chapter, in order to create the premises of a short-term comfort. If you want, it is a way to be cautious when it is not the case - at least if we refer to those who have called off their insurance contracts.
Fearful of "unrealized losses" which can result from the investment component of unit-linked insurance, they have canceled contracts in the most inopportune moment: in the very early stages of the contract and in a time when investment returns were negative due to the crisis. In 2009, Romanians were more cautious and more analytical about offers they had received. However, AEGON has signed about 2,200 contracts with high and very high premiums.

XPRIMM: Will conditions in 2010 provide a come-back for the employee benefits segment?
S. S.:
I think that only 2011 can be relevant for this segment, not 2010. And if someone/something can still do a great good to this area, this is the Legislative, with tax incentives - with or without chances of success in 2010.

XPRIMM: What strategies could the insurers adopt to counteract the negative perception about the efficiency and solidity of financial services?
S. S.:
The strategy that AEGON will adopt is to begin communication with an educative role, to really explain the meaning of quality financial services, starting from the public we will discuss with. We will be interested to also communicate with young people, who, although they are not yet consumers of such products, have a high potential of financial intelligence. We will make our presence felt in their environment and for sure we will understand eachother perfectly. The second big area is the products one. I think the only chance is that they are simple to understand, easy to buy, correctly and wisely managed by insurers.

XPRIMM: What measures should/could be taken by the state to support the development of life and health insurance in the current economic environment?
S. S.:
From our point of view, the list of equally important priorities includes:
1) deductibility for life and health - for both in a significantly higher amount than EUR 400;
2) communication through medium-long term programs nationwide, structured and continuously sustained;
3) real and constructive cooperation between the Legislative and the industry, as we really need each other: one cannot exist without the other and we cannot accede to a higher level.
Another personal dream that I have is creating a legislative basis for mandatory persons insurance. Although the word "mandatory" has a negative connotation in our vocabulary as individuals, I am convinced that this step would contribute greatly to creating a solid basis of financial culture.

XPRIMM: How profitable are, for insurers, the bancassurance partnerships and what did this alternative method of sale mean for the company you represent? Do you intend to further develop this segment?
S. S.:
We believe that bancassurance incorporates all types of benefits that the client can obtain from the relationship with the bank and with the insurer, buying life or goods insurance products directly from his banking adviser.
In the case of the tripartite relationships – client-bank-insurer –, the desired "win-win-win ", which is the de facto architect of success, is achieved more naturally, the balance of the relationship settling on three basic grounds, and all parties have something to gain.
Therefore, we see the development of this distribution channel in Romania as something positive and constructive and we believe in it.
The better the benefits are understood, the more widely used and appreciated distribution channel will bancassurance become, as it will become desired by all three participating parties: customer, bank and insurer.
We believe it's an appropriate context to focus on the banks at this time. On the Romanian market, there is a great opportunity for banks to supplement their income and offers in very advantageous conditions, satisfying their customer's needs, by bringing so close to him, in such a right formula, the best insurance products.
In Romania, currently, several banks have signed selling partnerships with insurance companies, but this regards especially life insurance products attached to loans. AEGON aims to develop the bancassurance activity, so the banks can sell any type of insurance policy, as it happens, for example, in France and Spain. This does not happen at local level and I will share with you, with pride and realism, that fact that AEGON has all the resources, capacity and confidence that, with our main partner, Banca TRANSILVANIA, will become the first insurance company that will develop a complete concept of bancassurance.
Finally, as sales strategy for 2010, AEGON aims to develop as much as possible the alternative sales channels. The partnership with Banca TRANSILVANIA opens for AEGON its presence in bancassurance in Romania. We believe this type of partnership will develop at a rapid pace, and AEGON has as strategic objective to be the national leader on this segment.

XPRIMM: What other projects does AEGON Asigurari de Viata have "in progress" regarding the alternative sales channels and the company's portfolio?
S. S.:
The most important novelty, not only for AEGON, but for the market itself, will be represented by the way of selling and by bringing to the market a new range of products created especially by AEGON for the Romanian public, simple and easy to understand products, as part of a communication campaign. I wish I could share more with you, but I think you agree with me that a little mystery is welcomed - even in business.

XPRIMM: Thank you!
by mihaela.circu@mxp.ro

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Silvia SIRB
Silvia SIRB
CEO
AEGON Asigurari de Viata

MEDICOVER
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TOP PRESS

INSURANCE Profile: The market froze in 2009
The figures recorded by Romanian insurance companies last year do not bring too good news for insurance. If, at the end of 2008, the market had registered underwritings that totaled over EUR 2.4 billion, creating the feeling that in the next period a sligh increase of the market could cause the surpassing of the psychological threshold of EUR 2.5 billion, here we see that 2009 registered a decrease of about 13% in euro, up to a total volume of underwritings in life and general insurance of over EUR 2.1 billion, according to INSURANCE Profile.
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by alex.rosca@mxp.ro, 30.03.2010



ASTRA, GENERALI and EUROINS - the only non-life increases in 2009
If until now the ranking changes were favored by registered growths over the market average, in the new context, changes in the tops and earning points in market share occur as a result of declines below the market average. With only 3 exceptions (ASTRA, GENERALI and EUROINS), the rest of the companies from TOP 10 general insurance have reported declines of business in 2009, according to the Specialty Review INSURANCE Profile.
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by andreea.ionete@mxp.ro, 31.03.2010



INSURANCE Profile: BCR Asigurari de Viata - the only company which ended 2009 "in the black"
BCR Asigurari de Viata continues its ascent towards the first position on the life insurance segment, being the only company that sells these types of policies and which ended 2009 with rising underwritings: RON 255 million (EUR 60 million), which is, in European currency, a nominal evolution of over 38%, compared with 2008.
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by vlad.boldijar@mxp.ro, 01.04.2010



All major insurance groups have decreased in 2009
The member companies of the most important European insurance groups present in Romania ended 2009 with underwritings of EUR 1.45 billion, a nominal decrease, in European currency, of over 16% compared with 2008, when they had cumulated EUR 1.72 billion. Thus, the contribution of large insurance groups in the total volume of gross written premiums fell by four percentage points last year compared to 2008, to 68.62%, according to Specialty Review INSURANCE Profile.
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by andreea.ionete@mxp.ro, 08.04.2010



In 2009, brokers have won another 5 percent of the insurance market
About 5 percentage points has won in 2009 the Romanian brokerage market in the total of the insurance market. Thus, if in 2008 the premiums written by insurance brokers represented 30% of the total, in 2009 the same indicator represented approximately 35% of the total underwritings of the insurance companies.
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by vlad.boldijar@mxp.ro, 29.03.2010



Hierarchy changes on MTPL in 2009
In 2009, the hierarchy of the companies has suffered strong modifications on the only market segment where increases were recorded: MTPL insurance. Thus, the new leader of the MTPL market became ASTRA, OMNIASIG ranked second, while EUROINS climbed 6 positions, up to the 3rd place.
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by vlad.boldijar@mxp.ro, 06.04.2010



VIG stagnates in Romania
The Austrian Group VIENNA Insurance (VIG), which controls 4 profile companies on the local market (OMNIASIG, ASIROM, BCR Asigurari and BCR Asigurari de Viata), reported for 2009 underwritings of EUR 606.6 million worth, compared to EUR 608.2 million in 2008. In national currency, the underwritings of the companies members of VIG rised by 14.8%, the Austrian group controlling about 30% of the Romanian insurance market.
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by oleg.doronceanu@mxp.ro, 01.04.2010



OMNIASIG decreases by almost 6% in 2009
The insurance company OMNIASIG VIENNA Insurance Group, the second company on the local profile market, reported underwritings amounting to RON 1.11 billion for 2009, down by 5.68% compared to 2008. Also, the total value of claims paid by OMNIASIG in 2009 increased by 21.71% compared to the previous year, to RON 904.96 million. According to company officials, the decrease of the underwritings is due to the effects of the crisis on some important segments of the national economy, such as the auto segment, leasing, banking and real estate, according to the press release issued by the insurer.
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by oleg.doronceanu@mxp.ro, 26.03.2010



Emilia BUNEA takes over the coordination of ING finances for ten countries in the region
Starting April 1, 2010, the General Manager of ING Fond de Pensii, Emilia BUNEA, took over the function of Chief Financial Officer at ING Insurance Central Europe, after a career of 13 years in the financial market in Romania. The position that remained vacant at ING Fond de Pensii after the promotion of Emilia BUNEA will be taken over by Marius POPESCU, currently General Manager of ING Investment Management.
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by andreea.ionete@mxp.ro, 30.03.2010



Competition between insurers helps brokers obtain better prices
Fierce competition between insurers on the European profile market allowed brokerage firms to obtain significant price reductions for various types of coverages. Thus, according to a recent survey by MARSH, the world leader on this market, brokers obtained on the European insurance markets discounts of 40-50% on property and motor insurance segments, of up to 30% on physical injuries segment and of up to 10% for D&O policies (directors and officers' liability insurance).
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by oleg.doronceanu@mxp.ro, 26.03.2010



Romania - possible destination for the Bulgarian insurers, if the authorities change the tax system
The possible amendment of taxes for the income of the Bulgarian insurers can generate a transfer of capital to other countries, including Romania, have stated the representatives of Bulgarian profile companies.
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by mihai.cracea@mxp.ro, 07.04.2010

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ASTRA ASIGURARI
EASTERN Re
MILLENIUM INSURANCE BROKER

MILLI Re


Safety Broker

FADATA
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Poland: 13% slowdown for the insurance market in 2009

In 2009, gross premium written on the Polish insurance market dropped by above 13 per cent to EUR 13.3 billion. At the same time, the persons who insured their cars, houses and other property, received above EUR 3.13 billion from insurers in the form of indemnities in 2009, while the benefits from life insurance reached approx. EUR 7.3 billion, as results from the data gathered by PIU. The growth of payments of benefits and indemnities with a simultaneous drop of premium was decisive for insurers' financial results.
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by andreea.ionete@mxp.ro, 8.04.2010



VIG: Market entry in Montenegro - Entry into the property/casualty insurance business in Lithuania
VIENNA Insurance Group is continuing its expansion path into Central and Eastern Europe even during economically difficult times and underscores its commitment to these future markets. With the market entry planned in Montenegro, the leading insurance group of this region will develop the overall 24th country as a market for itself. Furthermore, the non-life insurance business in Lithuania will be started from Poland. At the same time, the DONAU Versicherung is extending its product range on the Italian market and is going to sell motor liability insurance.
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by oleg.doronceanu@mxp.ro, 1.04.2010



Tashkent International Insurance Forum
The Annual International Insurance Forum, organized by SAIPRO, started today, the 8th of April, in the city of Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan.
PRIMM Insurance & Pensions Magazine supports the event as Media Partner and is represented at Tashkent by Adriana PANCIU, CEO si Oleg DORONCEANU, Russia & CIS Coordinator.
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by mihai.cracea@mxp.ro, 8.04.2010



Sixth International Risk Management Conference to be held in Kazakhstan
The Sixth International Risk Management Conference will be held this year traditionally on 14-15 April 2010 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This will be the Sixth Annual Conference on Risk Management organized and sponsored by EURASIA Insurance Company.
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by oleg.doronceanu@mxp.ro, 25.02.2010



Russian Insurance Summit 2010
On May 20-23, 2010, the Russian Association of Insurers holds the VIIIth Annual International Insurance Summit in the city of Vladimir, club VELES. Within the framework of the Summit there will be discussions on the present situation and on problems of the national insurance market in the context of international insurance development. The main theme of the Summit will be "Insurance into the Second Decade of the XXIst Century".
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by oleg.doronceanu@mxp.ro, 25.02.2010

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FINANCIAL NEWS


Romania will register a modest economic growth in the first quarter
Romania will register a modest economic increase in the first quarter of the this year, as exports recover, Cristian POPA, Vice Deputy of the Romanian National Central Bank, declared. He said that in services and constructions estimates were still negative.
Prompted whether the economy will increase in the first quarter, the official said that Bank representatives expected a positive, yet modest figure. He added that for 2010 a positive evolution was expected but it was hard to estimate how much it would increase.
by hotnews.ro, 31.03.2010


Budget revenues of RON 35 billion meet IMF target
Revenue collections for the first quarter showed Romania took RON 35 billion, while expenditures across government undershot the target agreed with the International Monetary Fund, sources in the Ministry of Finance said.
"Romania has achieved the first-quarter budget deficit target agreed with IMF, as revenue collections exceeded RON 35 billion and near RON 36 billion, and expenditures came in below expectations, according to preliminary data centralized earlier this month", according to sources quoted by NewsIn.
Ministry of Finance officials said, however, that revenue goal agreed with the International Monetary Fund was difficult to achieve, and that the "RON 37 billion target set by the fund would be almost impossible to stay within".
Romania has committed to contain its budget deficit within the RON 8.25 billion target range and to keep general government current primary expenditures below RON 32.9 billion, and to raise state revenues to RON 37.8 billion.
Romania's revenues to general government budget fell in the first two months this year by 3% compared to the same period of last year, to RON 25.2 billion, while expenditures rose 5.8%, to RON 31 billion.
by wall-street.ro, 8.04.2010


M&A activity grows to EUR 178 million
Romanian market M&A increased by 75% in the first quarter this year compared to the same period of 2009, to EUR 178 million, a CAPITAL Partners quarterly review shows.
25 deals were announced in the three months ending March 31, up 79% more than in the same period of last year, when only 14 transactions were announced.
"Broken down by target industry, diversified services and manufacturing lead the chart with five deals, followed by retail industry with four", the investment advisory firm said.
In its quarterly market review, CAPITAL Partners takes into account only the announced transactions that are allocated to the month they were officially announced.
CAPITAL Partners, the investment advisory firm headed by Doru LIONACHESCU, is the only independent and local company in the top 10 M&A advisory firms, by the number of assisted deals.
Romanian market M&A activity reached EUR 1.045 billion last year, and 80 deals announced with a collective worth of over EUR 1 million.
by wall-street.ro, 7.04.2010


Leu gained 3.4% against euro in first quarter
The national currency has seen one of the biggest gains among its peers against euro in the first quarter this year, a recent analysis by X-TRADE Brokers found. The national currency rose 3.44% in the first three months this year, from 4.2258 lei/EUR to 4.0803 lei/EUR, according to X-TRADE Brokers platform quotes.
The ruble scored the biggest gain versus the single European currency, that made a bold 8.07% leap in the January -March period. The ruble has made a firm stand against its US counterpart as well with 2.58% rise, notwithstanding the dollar's rally against most currencies.
"Russia's economic power is strengthening considerably and the ruble is rising both against euro and US dollar. In the first quarter this year, of all the European currencies, the ruble recorded the biggest appreciation against euro, the sharp devaluation of the euro being doubled by the favorable economic performance of the Russian federation", said Victor SAFTA, Chief Executive of X-TRADE Brokers Romania.
by wall-street.ro, 6.04.2010

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CEE, RUSSIA&CIS
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EVENTS


Tashkent International Insurance Forum
8-11 April 2010
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Organizer: SAIPRO
Media Partner: XPRIMM Insurance and Pensions
Official web-page: www.tiif.uz


Sixth International Risk Management Conference
14-15 April 2010, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Organizer: EURASIA Insurance Company
Media Partner: PRIMM Insurance&Pensions Magazine
Official web-page: www.theeurasia.kz


Russian Insurance Summit 2010
20-23 May 2010
VELES Hotel, Vladimir, Russia
Organizer: All-Russian Insurance Association
Media Partner: XPRIMM Insurance and Pensions
Official web-page: ins-conference.org


FIAR - International Insurance-Reinsurance Forum
24-28 May 2010
Sinaia, Romania
13th Edition
Organizer: Media XPRIMM
Official web-page: www.fiar.ro

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THE EDITORIAL STAFF:

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