I think that companies, which aim is transforming their business model, carrying out digitalization and increasing customer satisfaction, will achieve the greatest success and positively affect the dissemination of insurance culture in our society and the business models of other market participants in the long run.
CEO of Generali Osiguranje Serbia, Dragan Filipović talks about how the insurance industry has adapted to the new circumstances, the future period and his satisfaction with the company’s business results so far.
How did the new circumstances, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, affect Generali Osiguranje’s business?
It is evident that the pandemic has brought significant changes in the lives of people, society and the economy. Naturally, dealing with the unknown causes fear in all people. That is why, in the beginning, we focused all our efforts on preserving the health of our people – clients and partners alike – but also on conducting our business activities with even greater commitment. We maintained our personal and teamwork ethic and motivation and we did not allow everything to stop. Social and physical distance proved to be a good recipe for fighting the virus, but it was clear that the exact opposite was necessary to maintain business and work ethic. The fact is that this time has forced us to change our habits and the ways we work, but it also showed us that we are ready and able to change and adapt to the situation.
“During the first six months of this year, we recorded a slight increase in non-life insurance segment and maintained a leading position in life and health insurance”
We accepted this situation as an opportunity to change for the better. Bearing in mind that we started with the transformation and digitalization of our business, promotion and support of remote work (work from home) earlier, I can confidently say that the Generali team quickly and easily adapted to the new situation and that we were immediately ready to enable clients to do all insurance-related activities online or by phone – from filing claims, renewing and contracting insurance to receiving various useful tips and information. We have activated all our online and electronic communication channels to the maximum to provide our clients with good and timely support. I am proud of the dedication and sacrifice of our people and pleased that clients have recognized this. During the first six months of this year, we recorded a slight increase in non-life insurance segment and maintained a leading position in life and health insurance. Bearing in mind that we have been working in extraordinary circumstances for almost six months since the beginning of the year, I can say that we are satisfied with the achieved results.
Do you think that the whole situation with the pandemic will raise awareness about the importance of health and life insurance?
Research and analysis conducted at the European level show that the pandemic has significantly increased people’s interest in insurance products, especially in the segment of life and health insurance, but also for products that provide financial security in the event of job loss. Having in mind the development of our insurance market and culture, we can say that this trend has been noticed in our country as well. People are more interested in these products and are more willing to invest in their own and their family’s protection. Of course, the trends observed in our market cannot be compared with the trends in European and world markets, but the main reason for that is the financial possibilities and stability of the individual. However, it is important to point out that the interest in insurance products has noticeably increased among people with lower income.
“Innovation and digital transformation are one of the three pillars on which our strategy is based”
Generali Osiguranje Serbia is the recipient of two prestigious awards for innovative solutions in the user experience category in Southeast Europe. How important is the digitalization of the insurance sector for Generali Osiguranje?
Innovation and digital transformation are one of the three pillars on which our strategy is based. We are very committed to the transformation and digitization of our business model through the simplification and automation of processes and the use of artificial intelligence in business. We are shifting our business focus from products to clients, by moving from the traditional business model of an insurance company, which includes protection and disbursement of claims, to prevention and the provision of additional services to clients. We are increasingly providing our clients with different types of assistance 24/7 and dispense advice that suits their needs. We have enabled them to do most of the insurance activities online and thus increase their satisfaction with the service provided.
You have extended the COVID-19 coverage for your life insurance clients, SMEs and small business owners free of charge. How did you decide to take this step?
We made such a decision guided by the idea to provide additional protection for our clients in these extraordinary and hitherto unseen circumstances. We thought that by compensating for the days spent in a hospital and all other COVID-treatment facilities with COVID-19 infection, we would additionally protect life insurance clients and increase the financial security of their relatives. Besides, with this decision, we wanted to support SMEs and small business owners to more easily overcome the consequences of downtime due to illness, because they are very important for the economy of our country, and with the beginning of the pandemic, they faced great business and financial challenges. Furthermore, travel insurance clients who were abroad at the time when the pandemic was declared and could not return to the country immediately were allowed to extend their policies by calling our Contact Centre, while health insurance clients were allowed to consult authorized doctors online or by telephone about their health. I am glad that our activities received a very positive reaction from clients and that we once again showed that we have their back regardless of the circumstances and that they are the focus of our business. A satisfied customer is the greatest reward and the best referral for us and our business.
“We have activated all our online and electronic communication channels to the maximum to provide our clients with good and timely support”
You also donated EUR 100,000 to the Serbian government towards boosting the country’s health system in overcoming the coronavirus epidemic. How important is a socially responsible business for Generali?
Corporate social responsibility and commitment to sustainable development are the basis of our business strategy. By this, I don’t mean only philanthropy, but also activities that provide support to less privileged individuals or communities, as well as activities towards preventing depletion of natural resources to maintain ecological balance so that the quality of life does not decrease over time. In that sense, we are focused on expanding our The Human Safety Net programme, which we are implementing in Serbia in partnership with the Novak Djoković Foundation, creating products for responsible customers and increasing the number of products that have a social and environmental impact. Following our strategy, the donation to the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Vatreno Oko laboratory, we wanted to contribute to the efforts of health and scientific workers to adequately respond to the increased need for health protection and help them fight the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the fact that the Vatreno Oko laboratory has significantly contributed to more testing in Serbia, it is important to us that in the future it will boost the health system in Serbia, but also its research and educational potential.
What will be the period ahead of us like in terms of the insurance market?
The insurance market, like many other industries, will undergo a serious transformation in the coming period and will experience ups and downs. I think that companies, which aim is transforming their business model, carrying out digitalization and increasing customer satisfaction, will achieve the greatest success and positively affect the dissemination of insurance culture in our society and the business models of other market participants in the long run. Companies that are ready to change in line with customer expectations and trends imposed by the new age, that invest in education and satisfaction of their employees and win over customers and the market with personalized products and good service, not low price, are the ones that have a great future.