FIAR 2024: The Romanian insurance market’s leaders about the market status and its future perspectives

30 May 2024 — Daniela GHETU

The 25-a edition of FIAR, the International Insurance-Reinsurance Forum took place in Bucharest, on 26-28 May, hosting four conferences dedicated to the insurance markets’ trends, the motor insurance business, property insurance business, as well as to the insurance intermediation market.

Here are some of the most important statements during the event:

Alexandru CIUNCAN, President & General Director, UNSAR, Romania

  • The Romanian insurance market has gone through the most challenging decade in its history. Yet, it managed to fulfill its role. Every day, insurers paid out claims worth EUR 5.2 million.
  • In 2023, Romanians spent about 15% more on insurance than the previous year. However, people and companies are still insufficiently protected, with insurance coverage significantly below the European average.
  • Most major business lines recorded positive dynamics in underwriting.
  • The industry's reputation still suffers from recent bankruptcies and repeated attacks from external sources.
  • Tax deductions for life insurance are still awaited.
  • Amending Law 132/2017 regarding MTPL (motor third-party liability insurance) is a significant moment; the quality of this legislative effort will determine the future of a dominant market segment.
  • The frequency of road accidents is a concern for insurers, who are undertaking various actions to help reduce it.
  • There is increased interest in home insurance, health insurance, and travel insurance.
  • The advice provided by insurance intermediaries is a dominant source of information.

Dorel DUTA, President, UNSICAR, Romania

  • In Romania, the evolution of the volume of intermediated premiums generally aligns with the growth of the insurance market, but over the past decade, the volume of intermediation has grown faster than the volume of underwriting (3.24 times compared to 2.2 times), highlighting the increasing importance of the advisory activity conducted by brokers.
  • Although MTPL continues to represent a large share of brokers' activity, the increased intermediation rates in other classes concretely show that the concern for portfolio diversification is real, and brokers' contribution to the overall growth of the insurance market in voluntary business lines is significant.
  • The past few years have been full of challenges, with insurers evolving in a difficult environment.
  • The distribution and retail market covers the entire territory of Romania and is advantageous for insurance companies – intermediation costs are "success costs."

Stefan PRIGOREANU, President, PRBAR, Romania

  • We live in a paradox: insurance intermediation has never been more significant, yet specialty companies have never faced more challenges. Brokers' revenues have been seriously limited, significantly impacting the sustainability of these operators' activities. We must sound the alarm and highlight that the limitation of commissions on MTPL must be stopped before causing disastrous effects.
  • This year, the DORA directive is being implemented across the EU, and it seems to be a less restrictive regulation than the current norm 4 applied in Romania.
  • The focus is excessively placed on the comfort of the MTPL buyer – to buy cheaply. However, we must remember that MTPL is not purchased for the person paying the policy but for those they may harm. The injured parties are the ones whose interests must be protected.

Sorin MITITELU, Vice President, ASF – Romanian Financial Supervisory Authority

  • The European financial market is highly integrated, with increasingly close links between various types of financial services.
  • We need to adopt best practices from advanced markets to improve our efficiency.
  • The insurance market encompasses much more than just MTPL; we need to develop a market that meets diverse protection needs, including home insurance, agricultural insurance, legal assistance insurance, liability insurance, and more.

Virgil SONCUTEAN, CEO, ALLIANZ-TIRIAC Asigurări, Romania

  • Facing Unforeseen Events: In the face of unforeseen events, we are all equal. The difference lies in each person's decision to allocate resources for insurance or not. Thus, the protection deficit is more of an awareness deficit.
  • Life Insurance Priority: Major insurance distributors have not prioritized life insurance. There are, of course, operators who work in this segment, but the "major distribution" does not yet bring life insurance to clients. For Allianz, doubling the life insurance business is the result of a distribution model involving multiple channels and aggregating results.
  • Life Insurance Growth: I believe the share of life insurance will increase; the inflationary environment has favored certain pure protection solutions and investment component products. From the perspective of market operators, products with a guarantee component have the potential to create additional pressure on capital resources, but I believe we are in a position where this can be absorbed.

Mihai TECAU, CEO, OMNIASIG VIG, Romania

  • Innovative Solutions: As insurers, we must continually come up with new solutions because the market is changing, and so are the clients and their needs.
  • Market Challenges: The level of the Romanian market results from many factors – I hope we won't see actors operating questionably and potentially destabilizing the market in the future.
  • Reinsurance Costs: Reinsurance costs and conditions have become tougher. The impact is direct on property insurance classes, especially in the context of catastrophic risks.

Adrian MARIN, CEO, GENERALI Romania

  • Protection Deficit: The protection deficit is real.
  • Market Position in CEE: In CEE, the Romanian insurance market does not yet occupy the place it should, given the economic coordinates of the countries.
  • Market Concentration: Notably, the Romanian market has a very high concentration in both life and general insurance, with three companies controlling over 60% of the market.
  • Distribution Models: Any distribution model that helps reach clients deserves support and development because diversifying distribution models helps reach more client categories.
  • Reinsurance Costs: Reinsurance costs rise with inflation and perceptions of Romania's vulnerability to climate risks, and this trend's impact is evident in direct business.

Madalin ROSU, CEO, ASIROM VIG, Romania

  • Communication and Service: We must pay more attention to how we communicate, the language and channels used; moreover, we must also focus on how we service clients, offering value-added services.
  • Role of Advisors: Online distribution is far from covering mass distribution – the advisor's role is important.
  • Aegon Portfolio Acquisition: The Aegon portfolio acquisition process is ongoing, concerning technical background operations. I am confident we will progress well in this segment, provided we communicate effectively with the client and deliver information in accessible language so that clients across different age and education categories understand exactly what they are buying.

Kuldeep KAUSHIK, CEO, NN Romania

  • Consumer Trust: It is clear that events in recent years have somewhat eroded consumer trust.
  • Distribution Efficiency: In Romania, distribution efficiency is higher than in many other countries where NN is present. The same can be said about the level of customer assistance.
  • Focus on Real Protection: NN decided a few years ago to withdraw from certain segments and focus on real protection segments where we believe we can add value.
  • Life Insurance Growth: Growth in life insurance is slow, but I believe we are moving in the right direction.

Benjamin TURQUIN, CEO, BRD Asigurari de Viata, Romania

  • Improving Life Insurance Position: I am convinced we can improve the position of life insurance by continuing to educate the public and bringing products closer to them.
  • Tax Benefits: Introducing tax advantages would greatly benefit the development of life insurance.
  • Social Benefits of Life Insurance: Developing life insurance would benefit society as a whole because individuals would be better protected, and insurers are also large investors supporting the economy.

Viorel VASILE, President of the Board of Directors, SAFETY Broker, Romania

  • Positive Direction: I believe we are on the right track. The period of commission limitations had a positive side because it showed that relying solely on RCA business is not the way to secure development. Consultants have understood that they need to professionalize and approach other insurance lines.
  • Net Premium Introduction: The introduction of net premium was initially expected to increase online sales; in my opinion, it did not achieve its goal, and the reality shows that, with few exceptions, online distribution has not developed as expected.
  • Online Consumer: The online consumer is more stable, with a much higher renewal rate.
  • Life Insurance Distribution: Life insurance distribution is a business in itself, separate from general insurance – they are different models, with different sales force training, etc.

 

 

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