INTERVIEW: Dr. Savvas TZANIS CEO, IMPERIAL Claims Services
Savvas TZANIS: IMPERIAL settles claims for its customers for more than 50 years. It is the exclusive partner in Greece and Albania of 3 of the biggest claims handing groups in Europe and has a presence through its subsidiary company and through its own network of partners in another 7 countries. We started our activity from the traditional Green Card business and over the years, we have expanded the scope of our services in other kind of claims like cargo, property, claims for FoS insurance companies, expertizes and recoveries.
I would say that the most important advantage of our company is our culture which is deeply rooted in our past. IMPERIAL Claims Services is the successor of IMPERIAL HELLAS S.A, which was a family owned non-life insurance company for more than 38 years. We settle the claims of our customers with the same carefulness we did as an insurance company and this is why we enjoy their trust for so many years. Our people with the help of advanced IT systems puts a great effort to make sure that the final awarded amount in every claim is protecting the interests of our customers and is at the same time fair for the people who have suffered a damage.
XPRIMM: What are the reasons for entering into claims handling activities other than Green card? How successful are you there?
S.T.: The reasons for expanding our product portfolio are mainly four.
Firstly, the Green Card business is diminishing in size all over Europe.
Secondly, we grew up too much in Green Card business. IMPERIAL is the undisputed market leader in Green Card business in Greece and in Albania. We are already the correspondent of more than 300 European insurers and we enjoy a market share of more than 50% in some of our neighboring markets and close to 50% in some others.
Thirdly, claims handling companies in order to survive and attract new customers need to offer high-end IT services and that requires great financial investments. I believe that this will be the decisive parameter that will determine which claims handling offices will remain in the market in the future.
The fourth reason for entering into other markets is the relevant requests coming from our customers. We entered into the settlement of domestic claims for FoS companies because one of our Green card customers decided to start selling motor insurance policies in the Greek market. In the settlement of cargo claims we entered because we had to serve one the biggest car manufacturers in the world. In the expertise business we entered because we had to serve a multinational rent a car company that started operations in our country and because we wanted to improve the existing level of expertizes in Greece.
Our entrance into those markets was challenging because great investments had to be made in order to deliver the service with the high quality we wanted but the result was positive for us.
XPRIMM: You previously mentioned that great financial investments by claims handling offices will determine which companies will finally survive in your market. Does size play a key role in your market also?
S.T.: It is important to understand that our customers are insurance companies which are big, wealthy and well-structured organizations that require from their partners to have the same qualities they have. A serious and professional claims handling office today needs from my point of view to have: a) adequate capital to finance the claims, b) in-house legal department, c) in-house antifraud expert and anti-fraud software, d) in-house car expert, e) clear written claims handling procedures, f) experienced claims handlers, g) advanced IT system that allows its customers to have a really useful web access to their claims. All the above could not be necessary in the past, but the needs of our customers have changed and they have become more demanding. Their regulatory authorities have also become stricter (Solvency II) and I believe that the claims offices must have enough sources of revenues that will permit them to offer the above. As a result yes, size does play and will play a key role in our business also and I foresee that the companies that will not adopt to the higher needs of the customers will face problems.
XPRIMM: Why have you focused your activities in South Eastern Europe only? Are you interested to expand in other regions?
S.T.: First of all, I would like to tell you that I am extremely proud for being based and focused in CEE. I very frequently listen from our customers when I visit them that they are extremely happy with our services compared to their partners in Western Europe because they cannot understand them. It is definitely a matter of culture. With us, they feel that they can speak the same language and that we can understand them. So, our aim in the future will be to remain, invest and expand our activities in our region and not to enter into other regions like in the Western Europe. We want to be a regional player. We try however through the partnerships we have with the biggest loss adjusting groups in Europe, to bring and apply in our region the best claims handling practices they have.
XPRIMM: How do you foresee the future in claims management industry? Will it be much different than today?
S.T.: Despite the perception that insurance industry adopts new technological trends slower than other industries, I believe that it will not be easy for the insurance industry to escape from the technological revolution that Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Driving will bring. Autonomous driving is expected to radically diminish the volume of claims and probably change the insurance carrier.
Artificial Intelligence will automate and fasten the claims processes by diminishing the role of claims handlers in high frequent material damage claims. High-tech companies that collaborate with big insurance groups in the USA and the UK have developed advanced algorithms through which computers learn from the pictures of hundreds of millions of cars that were damaged and repaired in the past, to automatically estimate the repair method (replace or repair a part) and the final cost for the repair of a damaged car by only seeing the photographs of the damaged cars.
The future will be different and will change our business as we know it today. We will have to adapt to the changing environment.