Adrian Marin: Insurance is first and foremost about trust and keeping promises. Trust, we believe, will be the key word for 2021.
13 January 2021
Adrian Marin, CEO of Generali Romania and President of UNSAR – the National Union of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies in Romania – in an interview for daily financial newspaper Ziarul Financiar talks, among others, about what the year 2020 meant for Generali as well as the Romanian insurance industry, and also comments on the technological developments and challenges of the “new era”.
1. What has this period marked by the COVID-19 pandemic meant for Generali Romania?
From an operational point of view, we were able to quickly switch to remote working - this was the solution to ensure a maximum level of safety for colleagues and customers. However, the claims centers and our agencies remained open to be close to our customers, regardless of their preferred option of interacting with us. The effort was substantial and our entire team proved an exemplary mobilization.
Currently, more than 90% of our colleagues work remotely, all training is done online, but there are still elements that are not fully digital and require physical presence. So, although the change came suddenly, the investments made over the previous years in online working methods and the necessary equipment allowed our colleagues to work in optimal parameters and provide customers with quality services.
Moreover, because customer orientation was paramount, we completed the implementation of a new Net Promoter Score system, based on a methodology optimized for the Generali Group. The results so far have also indicated a high level of satisfaction of our customers.
However, the lack of physical interaction was the most disruptive element of this period both internally and in the relationship with customers or partners. We will continue to manage these obstacles until the health danger disappears.
2. How do you see the evolution of the insurance market in 2020? How do you think the year will end for the Romanian insurance industry?
According to the 9-month results recently announced by the Financial Supervisory Authority, the insurance market had an increase of 4.8% compared to the same period last year. It is an encouraging sign compared to the image outlined at the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
At the same time, we are under the spectrum of economic pressure and the insurance industry is strongly influenced by the macro environment. We are witnessing changes in consumer behavior, profound transformations in some economic areas, with declining industries and others in which we see accelerated development.
During this time, we are playing an active role in our community and the entire industry is an actor involved in economic recovery through the services we offer. Generali's roots in Romania date back to 1835 and we benefit from a 27-year history in modern Romania, which we honour with a long-term vision, with a balanced business approach, as well as through investments in the local development of our company and our team.
3. Which were the main market obstacles in 2020?
On a market level, there are almost 16 million insurance contracts and the industry is under pressure to deliver quality services to consumers and all customers.
Especially in the MTPL (Motor Third Party Liability Insurance) area, we see that the discussions in the public space far exceed other lines. But insurance is much more than MTPL. I believe that UNSAR, the insurers’ association, has also managed to mobilize efforts and resources to reposition the industry and highlight the risks around us, trying to constantly emphasize the importance of the solutions we offer in addition to MTPL.
Of course, the rapid compensation of clients remains a priority for the industry and each company makes efforts to do so as soon as possible.
We are living an unprecedented period and the insurance market has come up with various solutions and has proven to have a good capitalization that has given it increased resilience.
The situation is still volatile, but we believe that trust will be the key word for 2021. Insurance is, first and foremost, about trust and keeping promises.
In this context, the continuous development of digital tools is a certainty and it depends on us how fast it will unfold. Then, simplification becomes essential and is valid on all levels: how we work, what products we develop or how we manage claims. It is a natural step after a transformation that was unexpected, abrupt and with long-term effects. However, for Generali Romania, this transformation is aligned with our LifeTime Partner ambition.
4. How do you view the technological evolution of the insurance market? Will big steps still be taken for new digital solutions?
This pandemic has only physically taken us away from those around us. We continue to be connected and communicate, only in a different format.
In Generali, we continued to expand the range of products available online, on generali.ro, adding the household policies to the already existing ones. Soon, customers will have new products on this list. Also, the electronic signature for retail policies was introduced, currently for our own sales network.
For claims, the processes have been significantly simplified. The self-assessment option was improved, with increased limits for Casco, MTPL and household policies, and correspondence with customers, including the necessary documentation for compensations, went digital.
Automation is also well-positioned in our plans for the future and we have essential elements already implemented, such as RPA for various internal processes, machine learning for risk inspections and adequate processing capabilities.
The processes continue to evolve on all levels and we believe that the pandemic has highlighted what our customers want so that we can service them quickly and safely. It also showed us where we need improvements and that we must accelerate our digitalization. In the end, the pandemic has shown us that we can achieve much more, faster than we thought.
5. Which are the main business lines that have gained ground recently and how do you see their evolution in the next period?
It is for sure that certainty that the need for protection will remain, both on retail and corporate areas, with specific variations depending on the products or coverage.
The most important positive dynamics were registered on the line of health insurance and guarantee insurance. If the former is related to an individual need for protection, which has become much more pronounced during this period, the latter is rather dependent on investments.
We can also notice an increased interest for household insurance because the pandemic forced us to spend more time in homes and, at the same time, to take extra steps to protect them.
On the corporate lines, insurance awareness has increased and, last but not least, life insurance has gained more visibility, the argument being similar to health insurance.
The pandemic eventually functioned as a catalyst for people's and companies' perception of risk, but an important role for the insurance industry will ultimately be played by the evolution of the economy.
There will be opportunities during the next year in both retail and corporate, amid investments in tools that bring us closer to the customer as well as solid indicators of stability and sustainability. This framework, coupled with an accelerated economic recovery and the absorption of European funds could outline a promising year. However, there are also more prudent scenarios, depending on the health evolution and, of course, on the capacity for economic recovery.
Autor: Mircea Nica