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XPRIMM News No. 128, March 12th, 2009

No. 128, March 12th, 2009
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Taken over by the crisis ... or by the concept?

Far from being just a "fashionable" concept, an extrinsical current with a global shade or just another journalistic trick to animate the masses of "specialists" and to pro-actively raise panic, the financial crisis has passed over our threshold...

Since late 2008, the uncertain economic climate has stopped or significantly reduced production, thus leaving the services uncovered, too, as the ambiguous evaluation of the crisis effects depends on the degree of anticipation of the psychological effects on the population and on its inconsistency under pressure, rather than on the accuracy of the statistical forecasts.

More specifically, regarding the insurance market, the accelerated growth scenarios promoted during 2008 were shattered by the crisis, as the insurers took without delay a defensive position and manifested a reserved optimism, because the current economical environment affects, firstly, the trust of the population and its openess towards investments.
So, 2009 announces changes in the strategies of the insurance companies, with increased emphasis on existing customers retention, governed by the adaptability to the economic context, in all aspects: products portfolio, pricing policy, costs management, the focus on retail especially for life and health insurance and promoting the insurance classes which cover the risks that companies and people are facing these days.

Also, the trend that is classic for the Romanian insurance market, namely the domination of motor insurance, will be maintained, even if diminished because of the reduction of sales of new cars. In the context, in which lending and leasing have been the major engines of growth for the general insurance market, blocking and respectively restricting of these activities have already manifested a serious impact on the volume of new business.
For the future ... it is estimated a pronounced slowing of the growth, even more so as the banks expect credit standards for the population to continue to become more severe...

The volume of insurance premiums will also be affected, to some extent, by the restriction of activity in industry and in constructions, but also by the declining financial availability of the companies, in all sectors of activity.
However, insurance costs should not be suspended or reduced from the simple reason that under the current conditions of granting credits and financing, companies need quick access to financial resources in case of any unfortunate event that might occur.
Thus, the insurance for non-payment risk and for loss of profits or the business interruption insurance could have evolution rates closely related to the financial crisis, this time positive ones...

In terms of prices charged by insurers for 2009, an overall increase is expected, but at the same time, they will represent, more than in previous years, the main decision factor in aquiring an insurance. Thus, companies must find the compromise solution between the preservation of products' attractiveness and remaining within the prudential margin, considering the volatility of the economic environment...

The insurance mediation market, in return, could have significant benefits in the current situation, in the context of the increased risk exposure and increased need to reduce the insurance costs that will push customers towards brokers and financial consultants to manage their insurance programs.

Therefore, the effects of the financial crisis on the insurance market may not be statistically quantified until after the first half of this year, but until then, the behavior of the "consumer" of financial protection products will continue to "psychologically blackmail" the strategies of the companies...

Up to this point, what is for sure is that the crisis will avoid those insurers that apply effective profit and staff management strategies and that refocus from an extensive growth and gain of market share at any costs towards making the activity more profitable, by the best management of operational costs and of the portfolio.


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BCR Asigurari de Viata

Credit Europe Asigurari

Interview with Karina ROSU
AON Broker de Asigurare

XPRIMM: In your oppinon, what effects will the international financial crisis have on the Romanian insurance market, in 2009? How will the brokerage activity be affected?
Karina ROSU:
Reduced activity in production industries will also affect companies in the services field, and this reduction of the activity will also reflect itself, to some extent, in the volume of insurance premiums, at least of those directly related to the volume of activity and number of employees.
At the same time, obviously, motor insurance will register a stagnation because of the reduction of the sale of new cars. However, there is still a large fleet of vehicles in circulation.
We do not believe that reducing or renouncing at the cost of insurance is a good long term solution, especially in the current conditions for granting credits and financing, when following an accidental event companies will need quick access to financial resources. If customers want to reduce their insurance costs, we advise them to choose those alternatives that do not leave large uncovered risks.
It is likely that the brokerage activity will be less affected than the insurance market, so customers, if they want to reduce insurance costs, will call on the knowledge and negotiating power of insurance brokers to design insurance programs appropriate to the risks they are exposed to and to negotiate the insurance conditions and premiums.

XPRIMM: What product/insurance class do you consider to have the biggest growth potential for the next period of time, in our country?
K. R.:
The insurance class that had the most visible evolution, related to the financial crisis, is that of the insurance for the non-payment risk. The demands for this type of insurance have grown, but at the same time, we can expect a tightening of the conditions for granting such coverage by insurers and reinsurers.
Insurance for loss of profit, concluded together with property insurance, should also show an increase, because after an event, resuming the company's activity, and consequently, the return to the revenues before the damage, can take a long time. In the context of crisis, companies will no longer have the financial resources necessary to support salaries and fixed costs during this period of reduction, or even cease, of the production. From our experience, the damage on the business interruption segment is much higher than the damage suffered by the society's heritage.
In the retail segment, with the introduction of mandatory household insurance, there will obviously be an increase, not only for the mandatory insurance, but also for the voluntary one, which we believe can be sold very well, along with the mandatory ones. From our perspective, it is exactly this education of the insurance consumer that represents the the main advantage of involving the commercial insurance market in this project; by contrast, the distribution of this insurance to the financial administrations, which perhaps could have been easier to organize, would have had the great disadvantage of perceiving the insurance as a simple tax. With this method, we go beyond the concept of tax, and customers can learn more details about what the insurance product really is.
Regarding the evolution of insurance premiums in 2009, theoretically we expect a general increase (passing to the level of "hard market"), but the practice so far does not indicate these increases yet; furthermore, in many European countries slight premium reductions can be noticed . In general, the Romanian insurance market is very competitive on most insurance classes, in terms of the premiums' value.

XPRIMM: How would you assess the evolution of the insurance market, in the near future?
K. R.:
In the current conditions, it is difficult to assess what will the overall evolutionary trend be, but taking into account that there are still many sectors and insurance classes that had not been exploited yet, the market should follow an upward trend.
If people understand that there is the option to insure, certainly the number of new clients will increase. However, taking into account the force reduction that is to take place, a matter to be considered would be the phenomenon of postponement or reduction of employee benefits packages, including insurance.

XPRIMM: What is the most urgent problem encountered on the Romanian profile market? Do you have any solutions for solving it?
K. R.:
If we talk about the "normal situation", without making any reference to the influence of the crisis, two of the problems encountered on the Romanian market, in terms of offers from the insurers, are: the limited capacity to cover large projects and the lack of options for certain professional liability insurance classes.
For example, there are consultancy companies with an activity that doesn't classify them as a typical insurance companies, and they do not have products specialized for these fileds. The solutions here are optional reinsurance placements, and AON BENFIELD Re can offer support or co-insurance arrangements in this case.
Obviously, there is also the solution of the direct placement on the international market, taking into consideration the legal stipulations related to FoS (b. red.: Freedom of Services). This solution is used, in most cases, when the insurance product is not available as such to local insurers.
For now, the demand for such insurance is not great, and the products that were developed have addressed, in particular, to large customers from abroad.
If we talk about the current situation of the international crisis, AON designed and developed special products that provide protection in the event that one or more of the insurers involved in the insurance programme of a client become insolvent or get downgraded under a certain level by the rating agencies, and these policies "fill up" the capacity that remained uncovered.

XPRIMM: A very large number of insurance companies in the European Union have notified the ISC of the intention to carry out activities in Romania. Do you collaborate with companies in this category?
K. R.:
From our experience, the majority of these insurers have notified of this intention in order to provide their international clients with coverage in Romania, through the international insurance programmes in force.
Some of them, and especially those who have "niche" style products or approaches, really want to develop the relationship with the local brokers. For these insurers, the broker is essential as, in principle, it represents the only way they can reach the client, in the absence of a local network.
We work with several insurers in this category, either on international programs, or for special insurance products. However, the local insurance market is still very competitive from the perspective of the charged premiums, and therefore it is still of interest that, for products and limits available to local insurers, we use this market.


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Karina ROSU
Karina ROSU
AON Broker de Asigurare


The FIAR attendance, a tradition for the big insurance and reinsurance companies
For the big insurance and reinsurance companies, the FIAR-The International Insurance-Reinsurance Forum attendance has become a tradition. This is why this year's edition also benefits from the participation of important names of the international profile market.
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Shareholders must bring another EUR 300 million to the capital of the Romanian insurers
"To fit within the solvency margin, the Romanian insurance companies need an input of capital from the shareholders amounting to EUR 250-300 million, in the conditions in which money is becoming less and more expensive, on the background of the current economic context", Cristi CONSTANTINESCU, President of UNSAR and General Manager of ALLIANZ-TIRIAC, stated at the National Motor Insurance Conference.
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by, 10.03.2009

Four life insurance companies will officially enter the market next month
Four companies interested to enter the Romanian life insurance market will be authorized by the end of April, according to the Insurance Supervisory Commission. These are: BRD Asigurari de Viata, CREDIT EUROPE Life, ERGO Asigurari de Viata and UNIQA Asigurari de Viata.
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by, 10.03.2009

ISC: AOL Law will be enforced at 1st of July
"From the Insurance Supervisory Commission point of view, the mandatory household insurance law will be enforced at 1st of July 2009, as was initially settled. We are now working to prepare the technical norms for the law provisions' implementation. So far, around 20 insurance companies expressed their interest in entering PAID - The Pool for Insurance Against Natural Disasters", Angela TONCESCU, ISC President, has declared.
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by, 12.03.2009

A third of the national insurance sales - the work of brokers
In 2008, the total volume of intermediated premiums reached RON 2.78 billion, increased by 40% compared to the previous year. Consequently, out of the total underwritings completed in 2008 on the Romanian market, 31.4% of the GRP were made by brokers, by 4 percentage points more than in 2007, as the ISC representatives presented in the Brokers National Conference of Insurance and Pensions, organized by UNSICAR.
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by, 6.03.2009

AIG Life Romania doubles its profits in 2008
In 2008, the insurance company AIG Life Romania reported a gross profit of RON 62 million (RON 52.8 million net), double compared to the results registered in 2007, of RON 30.9 million, respectively RON 26.1 million net.
"It is the highest gross profit of the life insurance market, which is due to our health portfolio and to the high retention degree that we recorded", Theodor ALEXANDRESCU, General Manager AIG Life Asigurari Romania, stated in a press conference held recently.
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by, 6.03.2009

ASTRA business grew by 75% in 2008
The insurance company ASTRA-UNIQA ended 2008 with a 75% increase of the underwritings' volume, in national currency, up to RON 654.72 million, which, in the general insurance segment, contributed with RON 647.51 million, 76% more compared to the previous period.
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by, 9.03.2009

GENERALI PPF Holding goes multibranding strategy
The companies currently held on the local market by the GENERALI PPF holding will operate as separate and independent entities. GENERALI PPF became the fourth player on the Romanian insurance market, after the takeover of 82% of the ARDAF and 99.9% of the RAI shares. The new acquisitions of the holding have brought the group up to about 10% market share, according to estimates from the first nine months of 2008.
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by, 6.03.2009

Claims grew faster than the underwritings in 2008
In 2008, the dynamics of the damages paid by insurers, of 34%, has exceeded the one of the underwritings, located at 22.4%, lower than the 25.25% increase from 2007. Thus, gross claims paid in 2008 rose to RON 4.4 billion, that is EUR 1.2 billion, representing over 50.4% of the total gross written premiums.
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by, 27.02.2009

Health Ministry: "The package of basic health services" and the co-payment will be adopted starting the 1st of September
The package of general medical services will be adopted at the latest by September the 1st this year, Aurel NECHITA, State Secretary in the Ministry of Health said, in the opening of the second edition of the National Health Insurance Conference.
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by, 12.03.2009

13% of the population of Bucharest want a voluntary health insurance
Over 13% of Bucharest and 6% of the inhabitants of the province intend to buy a private health insurance, for which they would be willing to pay a monthly contribution of RON 70.87, respectively RON 84.89, according to the data of a study conducted by MEDNET Marketing Research Center in partnership with Media XPRIMM and presented for the first time at the second Private Health Insurance Conference.
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by, 12.03.2009

A new law for the agricultural insurance
Law no.381/2002, on claims paid for natural disasters in agriculture, will be improved in order to provide a better protection for the risks that are specific to agricultural land owners, Valeriu TABARA, President, the Commission for Agriculture, Forestry, Food Industry and Specific Services, the Chamber of Deputies, said in the National Agricultural Insurance Conference, organized by Media XPRIMM.
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by, 12.03.2009

Rapid fall for the credit insurance
If in 2007 the underwritings have known an insignificant increase of only 6%, exceeding EUR 120 million, in 2008, the business on this line dropped down to half, to EUR 51.8 million, down by 51,8%. Following this negative evolution, the credit insurance class has come to own a total market share of 2.7%, from 6.9% in the previous year.
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by, 6.03.2009

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Casco Ieftin

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Insurers in Russia: 946.2 billion rubles. Award for 2009
According to the Federal Insurance Supervision Authority report, Russian insurers collected 946.2 billion rubles (approx EUR 21 billion) of premiums, an increase by 21.9%. The paid claims cumulated 622.7 billion rubles (approx EUR 14 billion). About 60% of the market was in the top ten largest insurance groups.
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by, 12.03.2009

STANDARD& POOR's affirms 'A+' Rating for VIENNA Insurance
International rating agency STANDARD& POOR's (S&P) has recently affirmed the existing 'A+' rating for Austrian group VIENNA Insurance.
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by, 5.03.2009

GROUPAMA Poistovna launched on the Slovak Market
French-based GROUPAMA announced launch of GROUPAMA Poistovna on the Slovak market, which is a result of acquisition of OTP Garancia and its integration into the structure of the Group.
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by, 6.03.2009

Growth of financial loss insurance in Croatia
In January 2009, the premium in financial loss insurance was up 73.3 percent year-on-year, while the loan insurance premium fell 16.1%, the Croatian Insurance Bureau (HUO) reports.
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by Poslovni dnevnik, 4.03.2009

MARSH Scores at Euro 2012
Poland and the Ukraine will host the major quadrennial European football tournament, Euro2012.
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by, 9.03.2009

GUY CARPENTER launches Central and Eastern Europe flood model
GUY Carpenter and Co. L.L.C. announced Tuesday the launch of a new Pan-Central and Eastern European flood model that addresses the issue of cross-border flooding events.
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by, 5.03.2009

The Annual International Conference on Risk Management in Almaty
The Fifth International Conference on Risk Management will be held this year traditionally in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 15-17th April 2009. The event is organized by EURASIA Insurance Company, one of the leaders on the local insurance market and an active player on the CIS markets.
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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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2008 GDP increase raises this year's budget deficit
Romania's economy registered an upward trend in last year's final three months, in spite of pessimistic forecasts which went as far as announcing a recession. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INS), gross domestic product (GDP) soared by an annual 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, to RON 159.43 billion (some EUR 37 billion).
Considering results registered in Q4 2008, GDP surged 7.1 percent year-on-year in 2008. In monetary terms, the economy totaled RON 504 billion (some EUR 117 billion).
A 2008 GDP below initial forecasts, considering that this year's GDP growth rate is computed based on 2008 data, means that 2009 GDP will be lower than official estimates. If expenditures remain constant and revenues decline, the budget deficit will widen. Thus, the deficit could widen to 2.6 percent, compared to the current two percent target.
According to Ionut POPESCU, Advisor to Prime Minister Emil BOC, the government should cut budget expenditure to reach the set deficit target. "Personnel expenses could be further reduced. We should not cut investments," Popescu told Business Standard. Data in the final quarter was rather pessimistic for some players in the business environment. Thus, Q4 was much weaker compared to the first nine months of 2008. "Last year's first three quarters went very well, compared to the fourth quarter," Ilie CARABULEA, owner of ATLASSIB passenger transport company, told Business Standard.
by, 5.02.2009

GLOBAL FINANCE: Investments of some EUR 50 million in Romania
The Greek GLOBAL FINANCE (GF) private equity company is expecting to use no less than a third of total resources it has available for investments in companies in the region, according to Stelian DRAGAN, the company's new Investment Manager. Furthermore, preferences for certain sectors have been extended, with the crisis making available takeover opportunities in more sectors than usual.
"It is expected that Romania will absorb at least EUR 50 million of resources we have for the region. We are already negotiating with five-six of the 10-15 companies we are eying," said DRAGAN. The GLOBAL FINANCE official mentioned that "there are opportunities in virtually all sectors" due to the uncertain conditions facing the economy. The potential for regional expansion by companies could be more significant than the sector which they are part of. For instance, the Total Soft business plan stipulates regional expansion. Total Soft and Axigen are the only Romanian companies in GF's portfolio. The company can invest some EUR 500,000-700,000 in a company, through the Global Romania&Bulgaria Growth Fund and the South Eastern Europe Fund (SEEF).
GLOBAL FINANCE has been operating in Romania since 1996, with most important investments in MOBILROM (now ORANGE), ORANGE, SICOMED (ZENTIVA) and the La FOURMI chain.
by, 3.03.2009

DACIA joins the EUR 2 billion business club of companies
The Automobile DACIA car producer announced yesterday that it ended 2008 with net sales worth EUR 2.07 billion (RON 7.64 billion), representing a 10 percent increase in lei, while its net profit plunged 50 percent, to EUR 60 million, in a year marked by strikes and repeated production halts, due to a decline in orders. Company officials declined to comment on these results, saying that explanations for the 2008 balance will be available during a press conference to take place in the near future.
The firm's total revenues in Romania soared 16.5 percent, to RON 8.4 billion (some EUR 2.28 billion), while total spending surged 22 percent, to RON 8.14 billion (EUR 2.21billion). The auto market registered a severe decline in the past few months. However, DACIA is consolidating its position among Romania's largest top companies, alongside enterprises such as PETROM and ROMPETROL, both operating in the oil field, and which have already published their results.
PETROM, part of the Austrian OMV group, posted RON 16.75 billion (EUR 4.55 billion) in business in 2008, up 36.3 percent year-on-year. The company registered a 43 percent drop in profit, at RON 1.02 billion (EUR 277.5 million). ROMPETROL Rafinare, operator of the PETROMIDIA refinery faced rising losses last year due to high volatility of the price of the barrel of oil and fluctuations of the exchange rate.
PETROMIDIA posted a 56 percent increase in losses in 2008, to RON 490.6 million (EUR 133.2 million), while its business surged 60 percent, to RON 8.6 billion (EUR 2.35 billion).
by, 12.03.2009

ROMTELECOM: The market will continue to rise
Yorgos IOANNIDIS, General Manager of ROMTELECOM, the largest landline phone operator, said that the impact of the economic crisis on the local telecom market will not be as severe as on other markets, but will specifically affect low-income consumers, who could be unable to continue to afford a landline phone subscription.
"Telecommunications are a necessity. We may feel pressure on margins, from consumers, and because Romania is one of the countries with the lowest ARPU [average revenue per user], this will be difficult. Some could not be able to afford a landline phone subscription. They will choose other ways of communicating," IOANNIDIS told Business Standard. ROMTELECOM's General Manager said that the current economic crisis could last for a few years, and will peak at the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. But the evolution and severity of the crisis will also depend on the reaction of the authorities. The crisis is an opportunity for companies with cash resources and the capacity to attract talent, according to Ioannidis. He added that the domestic market, which had an estimated 17 percent growth rate in 2008, will keep rising in 2009, and in the coming two years. "The market will continue to increase, people will save on other activities, on Saturday night outings or on money spent on luxury clothing or expensive cars, but the telecom sector will be less affected," IOANNIDIS added. ROMTELECOM's investment plans for the immediate future will likewise not be affected. The company, controlled by the Greek OTE group, registered a 2.1 percent annual rise in revenues in the third quarter of 2008, to EUR 214 million, and an operating profit worth EUR 1.7 million, down 77 percent year-on-year. The phone operator continues to target an intensive increase in the data segment, where company revenues surged 53 percent in Q3.
by, 27.02.2009

REAL: Romanians go to the hypermarket once a week but buy more
The REAL hypermarket network, part of the German METRO Group, registered an increase in sales in January, while the growth rate was lower than that posted in January 2008, due to a drop in shopping frequency.
"The growth registered in January 2009 exceeded our expectations. In the past months we observed a decline in the frequency with which people go shopping. Usually, consumers went to the hypermarket twice a week. Now, they go only once, but they buy more," the Managing Director of Real Hypermarket Romania, Tjeerd JEGEN, told Business Standard.
Another change in consumer behavior concerns the orientation of clients for promotions of non-food products, and especially for household appliances and IT products.
The network presently has 20 stores and plans to open five more in 2009. The Romanian REAL division posted EUR 367 million in net sales in 2007, four times more than in 2006.
by, 5.03.2009

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

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

V International Conference on Risk Management
April 15th-17th 2009
Alma-Ata, Kazahstan
Organizer: EURASIA Insurance Company
Media Partener: Revista PRIMM - Asigurari&Pensii

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XPRIMM Newsletters


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