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XPRIMM News No. 124, January 15th, 2009

No. 124, January 15th, 2009
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2009: Year of challenges

Year 2009 is to be a difficult for insurance market in Romania, on one hand because of the present financial crisis worldwide, and on the other, as a consequence of many legislative changes that will apply this year. (The Law of Mandatory Property Insurance, Amicable Report, etc.).

Evolution in the last 10 years

Insurance market in Romania has witnessed a "beautiful" trend in the past decade, the industry growing annually by about 30 percent.

This "double digit" dynamic suffered though a reduction in the previous year, the market managing to grow in the first nine months of 2008, "only" with 13.54%, until a volume of underwritings of EUR 1.8 billion, compared to the same period of 2007.

In this context, the estimates for the full year 2008 amounted to EUR 2.5 billion, which means a less than 15 percent increase (n. red: compared to EUR 2.2 billion, a value recorded in 2007).

But how do the insurance specialists consider that the market will develop in 2009?

The latest survey conducted by the portal 1asig was: "What is the anticipated evolution for the insurance market in Romania, in 2009?"

In this respect, 55% of the 280 people who responded expect a growing industry this year, between 0 and 20 percent, while 20% believe that the industry will register a decline and the rest of the people who answered trust that the market has a chance to increase by more than 20 percentage points.

Challenges for 2009

The financial crisis that the global economy is facing has shaken many international auto manufacturers, in respect of the considerable reduction in the sales volume, compared to the same period a year earlier. Also, in Romania the demand for motor vehicles suffered a significant decline, if we relate to sales recorded in the previous year, especially against the backdrop of restricting lending.

In the local profile industry the market is dominated by motor insurance, with more than 60 percent of all underwritings made in the first nine months of 2008. Moreover, the motor sector has been and is being viewed for the next period also as a real "growth engine for the Romanian insurance market".

Therefore, this reduction in sales recorded in Europe, could have an indirect strong influence on sales of MTPL and CASCO policies in Romania.

Beside motor insurance class, other insurance segments, such as life insurance (especially unit-linked policies) could be affected by the crisis.
Legislative changes represent a second major challenge for 2009, most of them are laws whose adoption has led various contradictory debates.

First of all, from January 1st 2009, holders of CASCO policies involved in a traffic incident that damaged only their own vehicle, or if the damage occurred in circumstances other than in a traffic accident, will not be forced to go to the police to draw input document in a car repair, but can directly go at the insurance companies' headquarters.

Also, from the beginning of the year, the MTPL policies will be issued in electronic format.

The Amicable Report will enter into force from July 1st 2009 which notes that the road accidents, with no victims, can be solved without police issued documents, provided that the form is filled and signed by both drivers involved in that accident.

In the same period, house insurance policies will become mandatory for all immobile owners in Romania.

All of the above involve insurance companies' investments in developing information systems and to additional training for agents found in the sales force.

CSA's controversial law should also be mentioned because the insurance broker commission was limited to 15% for MTPL policies and generated negative reactions from the intermediaries, in terms of a free market for services.

Therefore, 2009 is considered to be the "Year of challenges", a year in which all insurance companies in our country will be forced to operate as efficiently as possible, in order to maintain growth, and profitability at acceptable levels.


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BCR Asigurari de Viata




Interview with

XPRIMM: How would you describe your activity in Romania and the CEE?
In the more developed markets like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, the German and Austrian companies have advantage of being first comers and they benefit from that. But today we are strong both financially and in know-how.
And combining it with our local knowledge and unique advisory model we have an ambition to be a leading company on the emerging markets of Romania, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia.
In Romania we have formed a new company - SALVE FINANCE, that was created by merging of existing two - SALVE Club and FINCOP. We want to work only under one brand, as the leader of professional financial advisory.

XPRIMM: One year ago, after the pensions' reform, your company management has resigned. How did you manage to make the transition to another management?
First of all, our business philosophy is not to take the situation like a crisis but rather as a challenge. Our success was so big in the reform that some of the people in management were not objective and assumed this success as if it was only their own.
However, we are on the market for more than 12 years and we have experience from 3 reforms from the past. We know exactly what we want to do and how we want to do it. A brokerage company is not a substitute for the sales force of an insurance company. Since our ex-management had a totally different view on where to go with the company, our roads had to split. They are trying to find their own way today.
We managed to expand our advisory network to 42 branches, compared to 30 half of year ago. The sales people are our partners and the spirit is entrepreneurial.

XPRIMM: Do your future plans include local management?
They already do. We believe in local management and people in Romania are proved to be able to perform very well. They combine their experience from international companies with local knowledge and deliver outstanding results. We currently have Mr. Septimiu MAIER as Executive Director who is an outstanding manager. On the other hand we do not have someone as head of the sales force - they are all our partners. The head office must provide all the technical and training support for the independent business owners.

XPRIMM: Did the brand contribute to your success?
Our brand helped, but what also was very important, were the long term investments that we made in Romania and we want to continue even more, especially in international education of our top leaders. Their knowledge is our only way for future growth.

XPRIMM: What is the advantage of your sales structure?
Selling life insurance is not a dream job for anyone. The classic distribution system does not provide enough motivation for a person to advance in their career. In USA the number of tied agents decreased by 50 % over the last 30 years. However number of independent financial advisors is growing yearly.
We are offering life changing career through a totally different model, where people stop being employees obeying orders but they are becoming independent business owners. The power that you unleash is extreme and creates huge growth potential. And this is exactly what happened.
We do not sell products; we give an independent advice to our clients on which financial solutions best fit their goals. Product is secondary.
For that mission we have experienced leaders in our team and they are putting their ideas into creating their successful strategies every day. The team we have is amazing. Today we are much stronger than six months ago, with a healthy company and growing number of satisfied clients every month.

XPRIMM: What is the ratio between pensions and insurance in your portfolio?
That is difficult to determine on the long run. In Romania, last year we had 95 percent pensions and 5% insurance, but the results were heavily influenced by the pension reform, which was only temporary. Our core business is not directed towards pension reforms but towards financial advising, where we focus on life and non-life insurance, mortgages, investment funds and third pillar pensions. When we analyze the CEE markets, we believe the ratio will be half insurance and half pensions. For example, in Ukraine we have 90 percent insurance because that is specific for that market. When you enter a market you have to determine the clients' needs and then mix the right products for financial planning.
What we understood about Romania is that 10 million people need pension planning. That is a combination of second pillar, third pillar, life insurance and investment funds.
Here, every company says it is the best. So today we have dozens of product producers in each category, where everyone is the best?
Definitely not - and this is where our job starts. We need to give independent advice to millions of people. People began to realize that the state pension system is not enough. The system we are trying to implement is helping us get more advisors in order to be prepared for that large volume of clients.

XPRIMM: What are your expectations regarding the development of the third pillar?
The difference between the second and third pillar is quite large. It is not easy to set a figure for 2009 but we expect to intermediate a couple of thousands policies each month. It is not a typical retail business, but in second half of 2009 we would like to introduce a special system that we are successfully using in Slovakia for advisory in this pillar. However exact details are our know-how I cannot share publicly now.

XPRIMM: Which are the companies you prefer to work with in Romania as well as in Russia and the Ukraine?
In general we work only with the world leading companies with huge financial power and stability. For many years we've been working with GENERALI, ALLIANZ, AEGON, RAIFFEISEN and ING, which all have a very good position on the Romanian market. Also, we prefer to work with them on other markets because their standards are the highest both for us, as well as for our customers. In general, the leaders of the market can provide the best services, pricing and quality. Nevertheless, when a company is appreciated on a local market, we usually have a successful collaboration. This year we will enlarge our portfolio with products of Aviva, which has a great management team in Romania and bank products of BCR BPL, credit cards and mortgages.
That way the client will be served with a full portfolio range. He/She will see a huge added value of the independent advice.

XPRIMM: Do you plan on expanding on other markets?
The next market we are entering is Serbia, because the insurance companies are present, but the independent advisory is missing. As mentioned, very soon we would like to start building our business also in Russia.
My dream is to enter the U.S. market. It might come as a surprise to some but they still do not have the 2nd Pillar. And they need a pension reform as much as a health insurance reform. There already is a movement to change their social security system. In 2009 we will open a small office there just for research and to be prepared for the moment after the presidential elections.

XPRIMM: Do you see any potential on the Moldavian market?
Moldova will be interesting due to the pension reform. We joined the President of Slovakia on his official visit to Moldova. He helped us to open many doors. We have met with officials from the National Bank and people from the Ministry of Finance and we discussed the perspectives regarding local development. It is important that we already have advisors in Romania and we see this as a natural growth.

XPRIMM: How did/does the financial crisis influence the business of the SALVE Group?
The good thing is that people stopped believing blindly in the commercials of companies who have a lot of money. Today they are asking for advice and do not believe what they tell them in the first financial institution where they walk in. This creates a huge space for our business - people need expertise and independency more than ever!


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Peter KRISTOFOVIC, President,


Consistency or lack of movement

The monetary policy meeting of BNR, on January the 6th, did not bring anything new. Personally, I hoped that BNR will follow the Fed model, also followed by the Bank of England, and even by the European Central Bank giant - namely, the flexibility in managing a financial and economic crisis, spread all around the world.
I am expecting an aggressive decrease of 0.5% of the monetary policy interest (contrary to the other more "conservative" analysts) and a reduction of the minimal mandatory reserves in RON (the same as the other fellow- analysts). This way, I think repeating the credit cycle of companies could have been accelerated, and that is vital for reducing the effects of the economic crisis upon our country.

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Dragos CABAT

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Dragos CABAT
Dragos CABAT
CFA Romania and Managing Partner FINANCIAL VIEW

Insurance Pool, looking for shareholders...
The Romanian Insurance Supervisory Commission (CSA) has sent to the insurers, at the end of December, an official address requiring them to communicate their intention to participate as shareholders in the establishment of PAID (Natural Catastrophes Insurance Pool), as well as their ways of involvement, sources from the market stated.
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by, 8.01.2009

Green light for PAID
The CSA has established the criteria for the authorization of the insurance companies which are willing to take part in the mandatory households' insurance program.
The companies who will be allowed to participate will have to match the following criteria: they already have to be authorized for the coverage of fire and other calamities as well as for natural disasters and have to become shareholders of PAID (the Pool for Insurance against Natural Disasters, which will be organized as an insurance-reinsurance company).
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by, 6.01.2009

The amicable report, since the 1st of July 2009
The amicable report of the car accidents involving two vehicles and which led only to material damages will come into effect from the 1st of July 2009.
Thus, the order of CSA regarding implementing the rules for use of the form of the amicable report of the accident was recently published in the Official Gazette. The act applies to the MTPL insurance policies beginning from the date of its publication.
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by, 8.01.2009

EUR 900 million acquisitions on the Romanian insurance market in 2008
The Romanian insurance market was marked in 2008 by five big tranzactions totalizing EUR 900 million, deals that brought strong players in the European profile industry in 2009. Their interest for Romania's insurance market growth potential, interest that was shown in the last two years, will bring, along with the ownership modifications, important changes in the local market top.
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by, 9.01.2009

The insurance market capitalization at 9 months 2008
The Romanian insurance companies' capitalization totalized around EUR 543 million after the first nine months of 2008, according to the latest issue of the INSURANCE Profile Review.
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by, 13.01.2009

The Amicable Report - the next step
The Amicable Report's entry into force from July 1 this year found amicable bustle waters in the Romanian insurance market. On the one hand there are some insurers who are worried about the frauds in the system increase, but also about the costs of organizational changes they need to operate within their own structures, while, on the other side there are representatives of the Road Police and unhappy customers with very long tails that they have to walk even if the accident was easy.
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by, 14.01.2009

UNIQA starts rebranding at UNITA
UNIQA will soon launch the rebranding campaign at UNITA, taken over by the Austrian group in the second half of 2008. As soon as the rebranding process ends, in the first quarter of this year, UNITA will become UNIQA Romania. As a matter of fact, VIENNA Insurance group logos have been already taken out of the insurers' official website.
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by, 9.01.2009

OMNIASIG, the MTPL insurer for the RATB auto park
OMNIASIG will be the MTPL insurer for RATB (Romanian Public Transport Association), according to the insitution's notice of award.
Thus, RATB will pay premiums worth RON 2.25 million to OMNIASIG for MTPL insurance services in 2009. The contract was given to OMNIASIG at the end of 2008, after an open tender involving four companies in the field.
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by, 12.01.2009

RON 9 million capital increase at AEGON Life
The social capital of life insurance company AEGON Life rose by RON 9 million, from RON 12 million up to RON 21.08 million, after the decision of the Shareholders' General Assembly of the 21st of November, published in the Official Gazette.
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by, 8.01.2009

Daniel TUDOR resigns from ARDAF's executive management
Daniel TUDOR will resign starting February 1 from the CEO position in ARDAF, the company's executive management devolving on two Deputy General Managers - Adina BACIOIU and Dan BORDEANU, as a report submitted to the Bucharest Stock Exchange informs.
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by, 13.01.2009

Romania's mandatory private pension funds post 7% nominal return for 2008, surpassing inflation
The 14 mandatory (2nd pillar) private pension funds on the Romanian market posted a nominal weighted average rate of return of 6.96% for 2008, surpassing the rate of inflation, according to official data published by APAPR, Romania's pension funds' association. The rate of return stands for the first 7 months of operation for these funds (20th May - 31st December); in this period, the real weighted average rate of return was 2.4%-2.8% above the 4%-4.5% inflation in the same period. Annualized, the rate of return would be 11.29% for the whole 2008, that is about 4% in real terms.
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by, 13.01.2009

Mihai BOBOCEA, appointed Secretary General of APAPR, Romania's Pension Funds' Association
APAPR, Romania's Private Pension Funds' Association, has appointed Mihai BOBOCEA as its first Secretary General, starting the 1st of January. His new responsabilities include internal ansd external communication, data gathering and dissemination, studies and research, public affairs and PR and others, the Association noted in a press release.
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by, 13.01.2009

AEGON Life aims for Top 5 in four years
AEGON Life begins its operations this year in Romania and aims a place among the first 5 players in the life insurance market until 2013, according to Silvia SIRB, CEO of the company.
"2009 marks the operational start for AEGON Life. We will address the market in several phases, being aware that a strong company and a stable portfolio is built in time," Silvia SIRB said for XPRIMM publications.
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by, 15.01.2009

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Casco Ieftin

Safety Broker

70 to 90% claims ratio for Russian Green Card
Russian insurance companies will reach a 90% claims ratio over the next five years for operations related to the international Green Card system, as Russian Union of Motor Insurers (RUMI) predicts. For the year 2009, they estimate that the premiums from that segment will come to EUR 20 millions and will grow in the related period to EUR 50 millions, Sergey RAZUVAN, Director of the Russian Green Card Bureau commented.
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by, 13.01.2009

New tariffs for Green Card and MTPL insurance in Moldova
Starting with 1 January 2009, new tariffs for MTPL insurance and Green Card policies entered into force in Republic of Moldova. New calculation methods take into account the risk factors and claims ratio.
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by, 13.01.2009

Half of Ukrainian insurers seriously affected by the increase in claims ratio
Claims ratio for CASCO and MTPL insurance in Ukraine will increase twice, as a result of a huge depreciation of Ukrainian currency. Most affected companies will be those who practiced a dumping policy and don't have any backup financial support from mother companies, according to
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by, 14.01.2009

Croatian insurers restricted in promotional activities
Promotional activities of the Croatian insurers and reinsurers will not be allowed to contain promises, assessments or percentages of their future performance, according to Croatian Financial Services Supervision Agency (HANFA).
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by, 13.01.2009

VIENNA Insurance to take over TBIH's shares in insurance companies in Albania, Bulgaria and Croatia
Austrian insurer has decided to take over the shares in the Group's insurance companies in Albania, Bulgaria and Croatia that are held by TBIH.
The VIG holds a direct share of 60% in TBIH Financial Services Group N.V. The minority share of 40% in TBIH is held by KARDAN Financial Services B.V.
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by, 9.01.2009

All-Russia Conference on Reinsurance has come to its 13th edition
All-Russian Union of Insurers with the support of the business center "Delovoy Format" proudly presents their next conference "Reinsurance in Russia. Guidelines for today and tomorrow" to take place in Moscow, on 24-25 March 2009.
The annual All-Russian reinsurance conference has traditionally become a major social event which brings together Russian reinsures and their foreign colleagues for the 13th time already.
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by, 15.01.2009

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BNR could give the green light for relaxed mortgages
Romanians could be granted mortgages based on more relaxed conditions as of this month, and could pay monthly interest rates amounting to as much as 60-65 percent of their income, according to sources within Romania's National Bank (BNR). This could be possible provided that debtors come up with housing units or land as collateral. This is the first sign sent by BNR for a relaxation on lending, after the central bank issued harsher lending rules last fall, aimed at curbing consumption and lowering risks for both lenders and their clients.
The decision could be passed on Thursday, during the BNR Board of Directors meeting, and bankers could grant more relaxed loans as soon as the new regulation is published in the Official Gazette.
Each bank would be allowed to increase the degree of indebtedness depending on its lending history on this segment and the risk profile. The current maximum level of indebtedness is 30-55 percent depending on the bank and the client's income. "If you are good, you lend, if you are not, you stand by (...) It is possible that some banks are not doing well, so we will treat each lender accordingly," BNR sources told Business Standard.
"It is very likely that the rules will change this weed. Based on this change, we will be encouraging those with lower incomes," the sources added.
by, 15.01.2009

Romania's industry ranked first in the European Union in October in terms of annual growth rate of new orders
The Romanian industry is in pole-position, considering the evolution of orders in a Europe shaken by a massive decline. The volume of new orders in Romania's industry registered its highest annual increase in October. This rise in even more significant, considering that the European Union's industry is registering the largest drop in the entire evolution of new orders. The Romanian industry ranked first in the European Union in October in terms of annual growth rate of new orders.
The volume of new industrial orders soared by an annual 18.4 percent in Romania in October 2008, according to EUROSTAT, Europe's institute of statistics, while these dropped an average 17.9 percent in the EU, and 15.1 percent in the euro zone.
"Foreign direct investments in Romania were strong in October. Foreign orders can also come from countries that are not members of the European Union," said Lucian ANGHEL, Chief Economist of BANCA COMERCIALA ROMANA lender.
However, the volume of new industrial orders dropped 4.8 percent in October compared to the previous month.
by, 13.01.2009

2009: 5.9% inflation rate
The new macro-economic forecasts for 2009 indicate a nominal GDP amounting to RON 588 billion and a rising average inflation of 5.3 per cent, data which were discussed on Tuesday by Public Finance Minister, Gheorghe POGEA, and by Governor of National Bank of Romania, Mugur ISARESCU.
The press release issued by Ministry of Finances specifies that the estimation regarding the general consolidated budget for next year indicates a range between 1.7 per cent and 2 per cent, compared to the previous value of 1.7 per cent in the latest governing program PD-L - PSD.
Based on the governing program, the estimation regarding the budgetary deficit in 2009 indicates 1.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, an average inflation of 5 per cent, nominal GDP amounting to RON 582.7 billion, economic growth at 3.5 per cent and a gross average monthly salary of RON 1,702.
It is also on Tuesday that talks were held at Ministry of Public Finances in order to settle the framework for the elaboration of the budget and its conveyance to the main credit applicants, according to the press release.
The Ministry of Public Finances priorities in 2009 are adjustment of the budgetary deficit and cut in current expenditures, securing resources to finance the investment projects, securing the continuity of the multi-annual financing for the investment programs and projects envisaged by central and local administration, the implementation of the anti-crisis measure plan to secure macro-economic stability as well the necessary framework for switching to the EUR zone.
by, 13.01.2009

BNR maintains reference interest at 10.25%
The Administration Board of National Bank of Romania (BNR) decided yesterday to maintain the monetary policy interest rate at 10.25 per cent and the current level of the compulsory reserves applicable to liabilities in RON and in foreign currencies for the lending institutions, according to a press release.
The compulsory minimal reserves applicable to the liabilities of banks are 40 per cent in case of foreign currency reserves and 18 per cent in case of the RON amounts attracted by the lending institutions. "BNR Administration Board reiterates that BNR will continue to carefully monitor the internal developments and the worldwide economic context so that by tailoring its instruments to them it would be able to secure reaching the targets related to price stability and to financial stability, within a context of a balanced mix of macro-economic policies," the press release indicates.
During its session from January 6, BNR Administration Board also decided on the proper management of the cashflow from the banking system by means of an active use of operations in the monetary market.
The analysts were expecting the key rate to be maintained at 10.25 per cent but they were also expecting a cut in the compulsory minimal reserves for RON, following that in the last monetary policy session, BNR decreased their level from 20 to 18 per cent, in order to raise the level of liquidity in the market. BNR Administration Board raised the monetary interest rate in each session which took place between October 2007 and July 2008. Thus, the key interest advanced from 7 per cent in October 2007 to 10.25 per cent. The key interest reached its highest level since August 2005, when it was 12.5 per cent.
Therefore, the banks will not release loans, and analysts say that the time is not proper to take loans. According to them, if somebody needs a loan, regardless whether it is for mortgages or for personal needs, then he or she should not closely watch only the interest but also the currency in which he receives the salary.
"The interest rate gets a low significance. It is not used for anything and it is not a reference. The fact that it has not been modified made it insignificant, at least within the current context. It is wrong measure that they did not decrease the level of the compulsory minimal reserves and this decision indicates that National Bank of Romania does not live by market reality. Considering the scarce liquidity, preserving the compulsory minimal reserves at such prohibitive levels is something blamable. I would have expected to decrease them in case of RON by at least 5 per cent and to start to decrease also the compulsory minimal reserves in foreign currencies," the financial adviser Bogdan BALTAZAR told Agerpres.
by, 10.01.2009

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FIAR - International Insurance-Reinsurance Forum
May 25th - 29th, 2009
Sinaia, Romania
12th Edition
Organizer: Media XPRIMM
Official web-page:

Creating and Selling SME Insurance Products and Services
January 22nd-23rd, 2009
London, UK
Organizer: Marcus Evans
Media Partner: PRIMM Insurance&Pensions Magazine

All-Russia Conference on Reinsurance
March 24th - 25th, 2009
Moscow, Russia
13th Edition
Organizer: All-Russian Union of Insurers
Co-organizer:Business Center Delovoy FORMAT

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