Interview with Roger Hodgkiss: Generally, we want to be a lifetime partner
02 April 2020
“As an insurer, we support our customers in difficult situations. That's what we're here for!”
Started on 25 November 2019, Roger Hodgkiss joined the top management team of Generali Poland being responsible for the P&C sales network and marketing of Generali and Proama.
In his interview for the Polish insurance and financial weekly Gazeta Ubezpieczeniowa, Roger Hodgkiss comments: “A considerable challenge for the whole world, also for our market, is a coronavirus pandemic. We can already see that it also strengthens the importance of remote customer service tools. Our agents can now issue policies remotely and collect cashless payments. This trend will certainly strengthen, and the current crisis situation will only speed up this process. As an insurer, we support our customers in difficult situations. That's what we're here for!”
Generally, we want to be a lifetime partner
Aleksandra E. Wysocka: How do you feel in your new position?
Roger Hodgkiss: Very happy! Together with a team of great people I face a big challenge, and I like it. We are all strongly focused on business here. Of course, our customers come first, we want to become their lifetime partner, but that also applies to our agents ... I believe that this approach will allow us to build long-term relationships and that our efforts will have a long-term effect.
What does the situation on the Polish insurance market look like from Generali’s perspective?
- It is still a market with huge potential. In general, Poles are not well insured - and if the client does end up buying some policy after all, it is the basic one. At the same time, salaries are increasing and the assets held are of increasing value. And this is an opportunity for insurers, including Generali. The problem is that the market is still strongly focused on motor third party liability insurance (MTPL) designed for motor vehicle owners, and the prices of this insurance are still very low and uncertain. I'm afraid our insurers failed to learn from the lesson they were taught a few years ago. We had enough persistence for two years to keep prices at a reasonably decent level, and then, step by step, the insurance market began to move backwards in a very unsafe and dangerous direction.
The coronavirus pandemic is a considerable challenge for the whole world, including our market. We can already see that it also strengthens the importance of remote customer service tools. Our agents can now issue policies remotely and collect cashless payments. This trend will certainly strengthen, and the current crisis situation will only speed up this process.
As an insurer, we support our customers in difficult situations. That's what we’re here for! Brokers are also important to us, so we want to enable them to perform their daily duties even in crisis situations. All this was made possible by new technology.
Which distribution channels do you consider to be the most advanced?
- Brokers are of key importance to us. According to my observations, the broker market is becoming very professional. In addition, the regulatory pressure over the last two years has forced multi-agents to streamline their processes and introduce new IT tools. Though this was a major challenge, the majority of them coped with it very well, resulting in gradual professionalisation of business models.
Life products are a big challenge for brokers. Multi-agents have a special place in our strategy, as do partner institutions, and our target is to have over 500 of them all over the country. These places have branded Generali and Proama logos and a full range of products is available. Agents have quite interesting business development opportunities available, and for us, these places present a platform for the promotion of our brands and for multi-product growth, not only in communication and property, but also in life insurance.
Finally, we would like to see all the intermediaries who cooperate with us to have a full range of products from all the brands and companies of Generali in Poland. And there are many such people in our group! Last year we also saw significant development in online sales. A recognised expert in this area, Bartosz Kwieciński, has recently joined us.
What are your plans for the nearest future?
- Ambitious, but we know that the current coronavirus situation has changed the way the plans are realised. As I have mentioned, customers are of key importance to us, and we want to be a real partner for them throughout their lives, especially in difficult situations. I think that there is a change in the attitude of all of us, including agents, towards remote channels of communication, sales and servicing.
The strategy applied to all of our products, all brands and all channels can help us make sure that the brands of Generali, Proama and Concordia are everywhere and rank among the best. I joined Generali to make our position in Poland much stronger. In the world, Generali is an important player, operating in many countries and occupying leading positions there. I believe that even in Poland we can be one of the top five insurance companies. We're ready for that. We can achieve this by working closely with the intermediaries who are the engine of growth for us.
To sum up, we have a lot of work to do. We have good products, great people, so I believe we can make it! The agents can be assured of partnership and great development opportunities with us. We are open to working with both local and global multi-agents.
Are you going to introduce new products?
- We are improving existing products and introducing new ones. In April, we are going to launch insurance for dogs and cats. For the time being, it's a kind of experiment. We will see how agents and customers will react to this product. We are also preparing a new assistance offer in cooperation with Europ Assistance. Thanks to the integration with Generali Concordia Polska, we also have great expectations regarding the extended range of products for farmers.
Generali’s products are really modern and of high quality, complemented by more affordable Proama products. Speaking of plans, I must also mention technological development and tools that will allow us to acquire a complete picture of the customer and to offer even better services. In the current situation, we are re-developing already existing tools to allow agents to serve their clients remotely.
In summary, we are facing a lot of challenges. Falling prices and the current unstable global situation, caused by the spread of coronavirus, require a flexible response and adaptation. Our strengths are a strong position in the world, a great team in Poland, excellent tools for remote service, focus on customer needs, and – last but not least – our immerse appetite for success!
Thank you for the interview
Aleksandra E. Wysocka
(source: Gazeta Ubezpieczeniowa, gu.com.pl, 30 March 2020)