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XPRIMM News No. 137, August 6th, 2009

No. 137, August 6th, 2009
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Insured, but also... suspect

Last year, I noticed two dominant approaches in terms of news' texts which usually follow buildings on fire.

Variant A: "The building owner was not insured, so he will pay the damages out of his own pocket" or Variant B:"The building was insured, so an insurance company will cover all damages".

However, it is good that people talk about insurance, or at least about the benefits of the existence of insurance. But, invariably, variant B has a further negative continuation, derived from the question: "If the building was insured, are we not by any chance witnessing an attempted fraud?".

The approach is fully demonstrating the simplistic general Romanian attitude regarding insurance. Thus, either you do not have insurance and then you pay out of your own pocket or, if you do and the insured event happens, you are (in a way) categorized as a possible suspect...

And, in case of the fire from Millennium Business Center, the general press offered a similar scenario: the event occurs, the building was insured ... Is there a fraud case?

However, with this occasion, a big step forward has been taken: for the first time, people were discussing, at maximum audience hours, of terms like tenants liability, building constructor liability or business interruption!

We are in the EU - the time has come for discussions and for attitude towards insurance to move up to another level.


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BCR Asigurari de Viata

Credit Europe Asigurari

Interview with Marie KOVAROVA,
President and CEO
GENERALI Asigurari

XPRIMM: How do you think Romanian insurance market will develop in 2009-2011? Which will be the most appropriate policies and strategies?
In 2009, we can forget about double digits growth that the Romanian insurance market experienced recently.
On the other hand, on the long term, the Romanian insurance market has a very high potential. This is because Romania is one of the largest central European countries, but the least penetrated with insurance (measured either as GWP/inhabitant or GWP/GDP). Alas, people will be less and less focused on fast consuming and becoming more interested in securing their life standards long-term.
Now it's the time for the strong insurers to enforce their position within consumers minds, become more client oriented and offer them stability and trust. Keeping promises will be one of the most important selection criteria, even more important than unjustified discounts and on the spot decisions.
I suppose there will be lots of changes in the policies and strategies approaches of the major insurance companies from our local market.
This means that, as a whole, the local insurance market will become healthier in the near future. Those who will understand and apply this general principle will resist on the market and will have good results.The general tendency of local acquisitions and the fusion process will keep going; there will take place other merges on the Romanian market, in the sense that small companies will be bought by international insurance groups.

XPRIMM: Which could be the sources for insurance market development in 2009?
M. K.:
In 2009, the insurance companies will be much more focused on financial healthiness than on obtaining market share for any price. They will have to deliver to their customer's reliable services, which means, among others, fast claims settlement and clear securing of financial stability.
Romania has a lot of potential sources for insurance market development, many channels being so far underexploited. We are planning to be there in the future period and to approach solutions that in fact will make the consumer's decisions easier and will help them understand the importance of insurance more than in the past.

XPRIMM: Which insurance market segments remain the most promising in the current economic conditions?
M. K.:
Motor insurance will keep being key insurance business in retail, but also e.g. household insurance and life insurance will become more and more important. In non-retail segment, the SME sector will grow as well.

XPRIMM: Where can the cost-cuts be made first and where is cost reduction not advisable?
M. K.:
Each insurer has its own development and efficiency improvement strategy and I don't think there are any general rules.
As far as we are concerned, we don't see cutting costs at any price as a solution. We are more focused on continuing the careful underwriting process on all insurance lines, increasing efficiency and maximum use of existing resources in the company (human, financial, administrative, IT etc.).
We are more focused on identifying and exploiting efficient communication channels and on maximizing internal efficiency.

XPRIMM: How did the consumers' perception regarding the insurance field change in the frame of economic crisis and how could insurers overcome such changes?
M. K.:
At such a time, people feel very insecure about their jobs, their own businesses or their monthly budget. These things being considered, they want stability and safety. That's why I think that they will mostly turn towards the companies with positive reputation, that they can trust and that inspire safety.
I congratulate those who have become aware of the importance of building reputation and have invested in their image. Those who have ignored this process will definitely not be able to make these steps overnight, because reputation is built and consolidated over time.
The companies that have had a healthy growth during the last years, that are profitable and constant, will be perceived as the most trustful one.
In the next future, customers will not be oriented especially on low cost products, but on safe and constant insurance companies.
While in the last months all the heart was about financial companies' bankruptcy, customers will look over for stability and trust first of all.
As far as the GENERALI brand is concerned, it was built with great attention, both internationally, and in Romania. The clients choose us for stability, tradition and know-how and they trust that we will fully respect our promises. GENERALI has a constant platform as a sign of respect showed to its clients. Our portfolio is equilibrate and has grown with responsibility and moderation.

XPRIMM: As GENERALI PPF launched the public offer for ARDAF's minority stakes and wants to delist the company from the Bucharest Stock Exchange, what does the Holding plan regarding ARDAF in the next period?
M. K.:
Through ARDAF we are planning to cover the market segments that were so far not present on GENERALI target.
ARDAF has a very good distribution component, especially within rural and small urban areas, which will continue to be our focus.
As a newly member of GENERALI group, I believe ARDAF will be given a positive image boost that we are planning to sustain by lining up the quality of services, and not only, to GENERALI standards.
We are not planning to merge brands as this is not our goal, but going for a multi brand approach in the nearest future.

XPRIMM: What does GENERALI PPF prepare for Romanian insurance market next, in terms of future projects, future products etc?
M. K.:
In the nearest future we plan to ride a steady growth and follow our long term objectives without risky actions. GENERALI is a strong brand, with very deep tradition, and is planning to be the same in the nearest future.
We will continue therefore with our quality of services approach and launch of new products based on our client needs, trying in the same time to be up to the newest market trends.

XPRIMM: As GENERALI Asigurari had a very good evolution on life segment, how do you intend to at least maintain this growth pace and further develop this important segment in the company's portfolio, given the current economic conditions when Romanian clients are even less interested in life insurance?
M. K.:
The drop in the GWP will lead to stagnation in the life insurance market in 2009. We will probably witness a very small growth, of 1-2%. Currently, we can speak of a growth tendency of traditional insurance, in the total market, and a drop in unit-linked insurance, compared to the previous years, as there will be short term lack of trust in capital market.

XPRIMM: Thank you!


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President and CEO
GENERALI Asigurari


The story continues...
It's been 11 years today since Media XPRIMM began its activity as a company of public relations of the insurance and private pensions markets.
It's also the 11th year of existence for the first editorial project of the company: PRIMM Insurance & Pensions Magazine, after which the Specialty Review INSURANCE Profile followed, in 4 years.
The web portals and, launched in 2000 and, respectively, in 2008, also won quickly the status of the first source of information for insurance and private pensions markets and they have almost 11,000 constant subscribers.
Click here to read more!
by, 10.07.2009

Angela TONCESCU: "The crisis influence upon the insurance market is minimal"
The total volume of gross written premiums in the first half of the current year of the profile companies operating in Romania has reached RON 4.67 billion, increasing nominally by 5.6% compared to H1/2008, according to preliminary results of the ISC.
Click here to read more!
by, 4.08.2009

RON 600 million in H1 for OMNIASIG
OMNIASIG, member of VIENNA Insurance Group, ended the first half of the year with business of RON 596 million (EUR 141 million), 3% less compared to the same period in 2008, on the background of a 30% decrease on the credit insurance segment, according to company's President, Constantin TOMA.
Click here to read more!
by, 4.08.2009

ASTRA Asigurari-UNIQA doubled its profit in H1/2009
The net profit of the company ASTRA Asigurari-UNIQA in the first half of this year grew with 91%, up to RON 5.39 million (EUR 1.27 million), compared to RON 2.82 million, as obtained in H1/2008, the insurer announced.
Click here to read more!
by, 5.08.2009

GENERALI does not take unnecessary risks in Romania
GENERALI PPF Holding has set as long and medium term objective to focus, on the Romanian market, on a healthy growth, through the development of products adapted to market requirements. Also, the GENERALI PPF representative in Romania, Marie KOVAROVA, said that, for the moment, the group intends to develop a multi-brand strategy.
Click here to read more!
by, 10.07.2009

Two CEOs at the leadership of EUROINS
EUROINS Romania will have two CEOs, respectively Alin BUCSA and Dan BOLD, and they will exercise their functions immediately after receiving authorization from the ISC, the insurer announced. The new organizational structure of the company was decided at the meeting of the Management Board of EUROINS Romania, on July the 13th this year.
Click here to read more!
by, 14.07.2009

ARDAF shareholders have approved tripling the share capital
ARDAF shareholders have approved increasing the share capital of the insurer with RON 200 million, in the General Assembly of Shareholders dated July 22 this year, and therefore it will reach the value of RON 309 million.
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by, 4.08.2009

GENERALI Asigurari wants to increase the rate of participation in PAID
GENERALI Asigurari shareholders will discuss, at the AGEA scheduled on September 3 this year, the aprovement of the increase of the rate of participation of the company to the social capital of PAID - Insurance Pool against Natural Disasters, from 1%, as established in the AGEA on April 30 this year.
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by, 5.08.2009

ARDAF brings niches of customers and territorial expansion to GENERALI PPF Holding
Along with taking total control over ARDAF, the GENERALI PPF group aims to fill niches that untill now did not exist in its portfolio and to increase the territorial presence, according to the representative of the holding in Romania, Marie KOVAROVA.
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by, 16.07.2009

RAI has moved in the GENERALI Asigurari headquarters
The market leader on the travel insurance segment, the company RAI Asigurari, a member of GENERALI PPF Holding, has recently moved in the GENERALI Asigurari headquarters from Gh. POLIZU Street.
RAI Asigurari is part of GENERALI PPF Holding since February this year, when the transaction announced at the end of June 2008, of taking over the majority package, both of RAI, as well as of ARDAF, was completed.
Click here to read more!
by, 13.07.2009

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Casco Ieftin

Safety Broker


The 5th International Conference "World Views for LIFE INSURANCE in Eastern Europe, CIS and Asia"

17th - 18th November 2009, Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, Moscow, Russia
In November, Moscow will once again host one of the key conferences on life, banc-assurance and asset management in emerging markets.
For more information, you can visit the official web-site of the conference:
Click here to read more!
by, 6.08.2009

IX International Yalta Finance Forum
14-18 September 2009 the IX International Yalta Finance Forum will take place traditionally in Yalta, Ukraine, Intourist Hotel. The event is dedicated not only for insurance market participants, but also with the participation of representatives of other financial services - banking, investment businesses, credit unions, pension funds and others. The Organizer is Business Strategy Center "Perspektiva", with the support and assistance of the League of Insurance Organizations of Ukraine and the government.
More details at:
Contact Forum Organizerzs: +38 044 453 40 75, 453 34 50 (51)
Click here to read more!
by, 6.08.2009

November Business Meetings in Moscow
On 24-25 November 2009, for the 8th time, Russian capital, Moscow will be the venue of the November Business Meetings of Reinsurers, organized by All-Russian Insurance Association and "Business Character" Group, with the support of PRIMM - Insurance & Pensions Magazine as Media Partner. The event will be held at Holiday Inn SOKOLNIKI.
Click here to read more!
by, 6.08.2009

PZU negotiates the takeover of KD Group
Polish financial group PZU, one of the most important insurers in Central and Eastern Europe, is negotiating the takeover of Slovenian insurer KD Group, which will give PZU access on markets from Central and Eastern Europe, where PZU is not represented. According to some market sources, parties are negotiating the possibilities of acquisition.
Click here to read more!
by, 5.08.2009

Insurance market of Ukraine - down by 1.2% in Q1/2009
Ukrainian insurance companies have underwrote EUR 391 million in premiums in the first half of 2009, a 1.2% decrease in comparison to the similar period of the previous year, according to national supervisory authority. At the same time, insurance claims paid in the second quarter have increased by EUR 22 million comparing to Q1/2009, while total assets posted an EUR 90 million increase.
Click here to read more!
by, 6.08.2009

Lithuanian insurance market - down by 20%
In the first semester of 2009, insurance companies that activate in Lithuania underwrote a volume of EUR 242 million, down by 20.1%, compared to the same period from 2008, as the National Insurance Supervisory Commission reported.
Non-life insurance market decreased by 21.6%, down to EUR 176 million, as well as life insurance market, that decreased by 15.7%, to EUR 65.8 million.
Click here to read more!
by, 6.08.2009

Ukraine: State Regulator restricts the acces of low rated companies on the national financial market
State Commission for the Regulation of the Ukrainian Financial Market introduces a minimum level of financial stability rating for foreign insurance and reinsurance companies.
Click here to read more!
by, 6.08.2009

Slovenian insurance companies see premiums rise
From January to June Slovenian insurance companies increased premiums by 3.4 percent to EUR 1.1 billion in comparison to the respective period last year. According to the Association of Slovenian Insurance Companies Zavarovalnica TRIGLAV, which controls the biggest market share - 37.8 percent, acquired EUR 421.5 million in premiums.
Click here to read more!
by, 6.08.2009

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Banks post profits similar to 2007, but with change of strategy
Five of the six largest lenders on the market, Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR), BRD Groupe Societe Generale, VOLKSBANK, RAIFFEISEN, and UNICREDIT Tiriac Bank posted a total net profit of EUR 370 million in the first half of this year, close to the level registered in the first six months of 2007, when the economic context was completely different, and banks did not fear rising unemployment and declines in individual incomes.
The crisis forced the five players, who own more than half of the assets of the Romanian banking system, to adapt to market conditions and change their strategies.
UNICREDIT Tiriac Bank announced yesterday a two percent rise in net profit, up to RON 181 million (EUR 43.1 million). The lender's management indicated that the results were very good, considering the sharp decline in economic activity, industrial production, sales and demand, as well as rising lending risks.
"It is very important to anticipate and react quickly in times of crisis, maintaining a balance between the main business priorities. We focused on raising the liquidity level and balancing the loan/deposit ratio, continuing lending, and keeping profitability at a stable level", Chief Executive Officer of UNICREDIT Tiriac Bank, Rasvan RADU, said. In 2007, banks relied mostly on loan demand, and profits came from interest rates and fees. However, the first half of 2009 showed that the profit of banks was significantly affected by financial operations.
by, 6.08.2009

"First Home" convinced 156 Romanians and stabilized prices of old homes
The "First Home" government program managed to stabilize the prices of old homes for a short period of time, which continues to register a downward trend, and restored confidence on the market. In one week, the number of loans granted through this program increased by more than fourfold, to 156, with Bucharest having the highest share.
If the program had not existed, the market would have continued along its negative course without significant changes, according to players in this industry interviewed by Business Standard.
Statistics compiled by the Web site indicate an insignificant increase in the prices of old apartments in July, of 1-4 percent, simultaneous with a higher rise in the number of new offers on the market.
In July, the average price asked for studio apartments was EUR 46,300, up 2.6 percent month-on-month. For one-bedroom apartments, the initial average price was EUR 70,500, one percent higher compared to June. The price rise for two-bedroom apartments was 3.5 percent compared to the previous month, to EUR 97,600, while three-bedroom apartments had an average price of EUR 128,500, four percent higher than in June.
"The only change brought by the "First Home" program is that it managed to restore part of the confidence of buyers in the market, but nothing has changed at the price level, on the whole, as prices continue their negative trend. "First Home" is a short-term product and will not change anything unless it is followed by other competitive lending products offered either by the state or by banks", the Head of Real Estate Division within VOLKSBANK, Daniel TUDOR, said.
by, 5.08.2009

Growth for all mutual funds in July
All open mutual investment funds with exposure on shares had positive yields in July, due to sustained growth registered on the stock market. The top 16 yields for the first seven months of 2009, calculated based on assets owned on July 30, were registered by share funds.
Five of these exceeded by up to 18 percentage points the 2009 performance of the BET XT index of the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB), of the top 25 blue chips. Active Dinamic fund registered as much as 51.5 percent growth, reversing the downward trend it had registered last year. The BET XT index rose 34.6 percent since the beginning of 2009. Furthermore, regional funds launched two months ago by BRD Asset Management, namely BRD Diverso Europa Regional and BRD Actiuni Europa Regional, tripled the number of investors. So far, BRD Diverso Europa Regional secured 187 investors, while BRD Actiuni Europa Regional secured 102 new investors.
"A high interest in new products and for funds with regional exposure is visible. Our approach is conservative, and we are waiting for the best opportunities to increase exposure on shares. Capital markets are still low, but re-launch is expected in a rather short time frame", according to the General Manager of BRD AM, Dan NICU, for BUSINESS Standard. However, in spite of high yields posted by share funds, most of the new investments were attracted by the five monetary funds operating on the local market. Their net assets rose by some EUR 47 million - almost half of all investments in the field.
Diversified funds (including shares) and bond funds shared the other half of growth. Final statistics of net assets registered in July could register levels above RON 2 billion, or EUR 500 million, for the entire industry.
by, 4.08.2009

ERSTE: Romanian results are good; Hungary, a pleasant surprise
Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR), the largest lender in the local banking system, ended the first half of this year with a net profit worth EUR 144.2 million, down 20 percent year-on-year, while the Austrian ERSTE group, which controls the bank, said that the past few months were the most difficult in the history of the group.
ERSTE officials said that the markets are in full real economy crisis, but added that Central and Eastern Europe is nearing the end of the downward trend.
"The recession is severe, but it is not Armageddon. The packages from the International Monetary Fund have had a stabilizing effect on currencies, such as the leu and the forint. In Romania, results were satisfactory, but those registered in Hungary were a pleasant surprise", said ERSTE Bank's Chief Executive Officer, Andreas TREICHL, quoted by The Money Channel.
The Czech Republic is ERSTE's most profitable market, followed by Romania and Hungary. Here the Austrian group registered the lowest profit drop rate, as operations on this market generated earnings of EUR 41.3 million, 14 percent less than the level posted in the first six months of last year.
BCR's results were affected by an increase in non-performing loans, which led to a tripling of risk costs in the past year, up to EUR 186 million.
"These results reflect the extremely difficult conditions which our clients are facing. Despite this situation, the bank managed to improve its operating performance by over 10 percent compared to the first half of 2008", BCR's CEO, Dominic BRUYNSEELS, said.
"The Romanian economy continued to slow, which inevitably affected income and consumer behavior of our individual clients. The rise in unemployment and the reduced working hours are influencing large areas in Romania, as well as the cash flows and profitability of companies", according to a bank statement.
by, 31.07.2009

The "First Home" program drives prices up by 10-15%
The prices of older one-bedroom apartments in Bucharest soared 10-15 percent, following the launch of the "First Home" program, part of the government's anti-crisis strategy, meant to unblock the real estate market.
At present, it is virtually impossible to find offers for such apartments for less than EUR 60,000-62,000 in the Western Bucharest Militari or Eastern Titan areas, according to the Bucharest Real Estate Index (BREI) calculated for the month of July by the COLLIERS International real estate consultancy company.
The data confirms estimates by market players, who announced prior to the government program going into effect, that there would be a slight rise in prices, due to an increase in demand on this market.
Prime Minister Emil BOC announced, at the end of last week, that if the "First Home" program was successful, it would be financed in 2010 too, and he believes this will have several positive effects. "Firstly, Romanians now paying EUR 200-300 in rent, will pay the same amount in rent tomorrow, but will have their own home. Secondly, lending will be unblocked, as, with the exception of one bank with a separate program, all 19 lenders are involved in the program, granting loans to Romanians. Thirdly, let us not forget that this is a field of construction with a significant share of GDP (gross domestic product); through this measure, it will benefit from support, bringing efficiency into the Romanian economy", BOC said.
"Compared to similar programs developed in other countries, the Romanian program presents itself rather well. With slight weaknesses in terms of eligibility restrictions, the amount offered is good compared to prices on the domestic market", COLLIERS consultants said.
People who want to take out loans through the "First Home" program will make a down payment of five percent for a home worth up to EUR 60,000, or of EUR 3,000 plus the difference resulting from the acquisition price, and the interest rate will be EURIBOR (Euro Interbank Offered Rate) on three months plus a maximum four percent per year, on euro loans, and ROBOR (the interest rate on loans on the Romanian interbank market) plus a maximum 2.5 percentage points.
by, 27.07.2009

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Claims Management and Processing in Insurance
September, 7th-8th, 2009
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Organizer: Marcus Evans
Media Partner: PRIMM Magazine - Insurance & Pensions

Les Rendez-Vous de Septembre
September, 4th-10th, 2009
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Organizer: RVS
Media Partner: PRIMM Magazine - Insurance & Pensions

9th International Yalta Finance Forum
September, 14th-18th, 2009
Yalta, Ucraina
Organizer: The League of Insurance Organizations of Ukraine
Media Partner: PRIMM Magazine - Insurance & Pensions

11th Insurance and Reinsurance Conference Hydra
September, 17th-19th, 2009
Organizer: Hellenic Association of Insurance Companies
Media Partner: PRIMM Magazine - Insurance & Pensions

Health 2009
October 8th & 9th, 2009
Berlin, Germany
Organizer: UNIGLOBAL Research
Media Partner: PRIMM Magazine - Insurance & Pensions

31st Baden-Baden Meeting 2009
October 25th-29th, 2009
Baden-Baden, Germany

5th International Conference "World Views for LIFE INSURANCE in Eastern Europe, CIS and Asia"
November 17th-18th, 2009
Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, Moscow
Organizer: Russian Polis Information Group
Media Partner: PRIMM Magazine - Insurance & Pensions

November Reinsurance Meetings
November 24th-25th, 2009
Holiday Inn Moscow Sokolniki Hotel
Organizer: All-Russian Insurance Association (ARIA)
Coorganizer: Business Character Group
Media Partner: PRIMM Magazine - Insurance & Pensions

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XPRIMM Newsletters


President: Sergiu COSTACHE CEO: Adriana PANCIU
Business Development Director: Alexandru D. CIUNCAN

Editor in Chief: Mihaela CIRCU
Scientific Advisor: Daniela GHETU
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Senior Editors: Vlad PANCIU, Oleg DORONCEANU
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General Secretary: Lidia POP

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IT Department: Octavian GRIGOR, Dorin PALADE, Cosmin ARMASESCU



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