Generali Osiguranje Srbija is the second largest insurance company in Serbia and a leader in life and non-life insurance segment. They recently initiated a joint project with the Novak Djokovic Foundation, as part of The Human Safety Net global initiative. The company is constantly launching innovative products on the insurance market in Serbia. They ended the year 2018 with new operative records. We are talking about this and about the company’s plans for 2019 with Dragan Filipović, CEO of Generali Osiguranje Srbija.
What did 2018 bring you in business sense?
— Generali Osiguranje Srbija set a new record in its business operations in 2018, in terms of its profit and operating results. We continue to be leaders in Serbia’s insurance market in regard to profitability, and in health insurance sector, in regard to the premium. We hold second place in the market by the size of our premiums, and the first place in the life insurance segment for a number of years – each third life insurance policy is Generali’s, as well as each second health insurance policy. All in all, we are very satisfied with last year’s results. If the market grew by 4% in the life insurance segment, we grew 4 times faster than the market, and we practically pushed the growth of the entire market. Nonlife insurance segment posted a somewhat stronger growth, and we matched it, which actually shows that higher living standard in Serbia doesn’t result in an increase in life insurance sales, yet. Clients still don’t feel the need for long-term insurance when it comes to protection and risks, and eventually savings, but they mainly give their trust to short-term policies they use to resolve some quick issues. But time is working for us, and I am certain that the life insurance segment in Serbia will reach European level in the following years.
Did last year’s growth of the GDP and purchasing power of the population reflect in life insurance sales?
— The GDP growth was more felt in the sale of other types of insurance, like household insurance, insurance for SMEs, Casco insurance, travel insurance, etc., but not life insurance. This requires a much faster growth and a higher living standard of our people, in order for part of the money that is not deposited in savings now, to be allocated to life insurance. However, I say that life insurance should not be observed from the aspect of savings, because banks provide interest rates on deposited assets. Life insurance should be something that will protect families in case of unwanted events, and yet on the other hand, in the event of survival, it returns invested money with yields that are better than depositing money with a bank to earn an interest.
You’ve been holding the leading position in the market for years, and you have launched innovative products each year. Which of the products would you like to single out?
— Aside from products that we launched in 2016 and 2017, which relate to digital sales of travel insurance and household insurance, we were the first in the market last year to launch a smart package – phone insurance that covers damage to the mobile phone screen. You can file an insurance claim via a mobile app, in 10 just clicks. What awaits us is something that we finished at the end of 2018 and will be launched in the first quarter of this year – we are talking about pet insurance. We are aware that there are a lot of pets in Serbia, and that they are treated as family members. This is precisely why we developed this product.
How widely accepted are the digital options you offer with travel insurance and household insurance? What geographic and age trends have you noticed?
— Since we launched the mobile app, we’ve had very good results. We sold dozens of thousands of policies in this way, thanks to our internal sales force that found the right way to approach the clients, by explaining them all the advantages and benefits. The entire process is much faster than having to wait your turn in one of our branch offices. Purchase of insurance policy can be completed in two minutes with the mobile app, regardless of where you are making the purchase from. Demographically speaking, it is used mainly by younger population living in bigger cities. It is up to us to reach all the clients across Serbia, since we have a wide and extensive internal sales force so that we can facilitate purchase of insurance policy for everyone.
Employees are an important resource. How do you take care of them and what programmes and benefits do you offer to the employees in your company?
— I keep saying that the two most important pillars for success of any company are – a satisfied employee and a satisfied client. Precisely in this order! Because, if you have a satisfied employee, they will transfer this satisfaction, smile, energy and a positive attitude to the client, and the client will return this energy to the company. Care for employees is something that Generali has been exercising from the very start. We have been investing in our employees in Serbia for years, and we are proud of the fact that we became the first institution in the financial sector to get the Family Friendly certificate last year. This practically means that we are a company that has harmonized the private and professional life of our employees through our activities, projects and events. This is not a certificate that says that we strive to accomplish something, but that we have already proven with our work that we have harmonized the private and professional life of our employees. And we managed to do this by listening to our employees, by talking to them about what they’re missing and what we need to do to make them more satisfied and happier. We did a great deal in this aspect. We also take care of the children of our employees, regardless of their age, and take care of their needs. With each year, this story will continue to develop. We are very proud of this certificate.
As a member of Generali Group, you must follow European trends. How is that possible considering the different structure of insurance products in this market?
— Everything cannot be applied immediately; there are a number of things that our market is not prepared to accept. We are fortunate that Generali Osiguranje is an international, large and strong company with years of experience, and it has a lot of ready solutions for all the insurance segments. However, it is not easy to release a product in the market, because the market’s consciousness must mature in order for this product to be accepted. But we see, modify and apply a lot of things. There are also a number of areas where we made faster progress within the Group, like agriculture, because Serbia is an agricultural country, after all. Then there are the innovations that we applied in Serbia, like a drone that records damages, and a mobile app that we developed in cooperation with the Biosense Institute which allows you to get an information via mobile phone at the moment the damage has occurred, the location of the damage and the GSP coordinates so you can go directly to the site of the damage. These are all solutions and innovations that members of our group accepted from Serbia, so we are quite innovative in some segments. I wish to point out again that time is working for us, insurance market will increase, both economically and in terms of raising the awareness of the importance of insurance, which will lead to fast implementation of the solution that Generali provides worldwide.
“SUPPORT, NOT PERFECTION”
The Human Safety Net is a global initiative that Generali Group initiated two years ago. You established partnership with the Novak Djokovic Foundation in Serbia. What is this project about?
— We are very proud and happy to be recognized by the Novak Djokovic Fondation as partners, and vice versa, in this major joint project which will last for a number of years. In fact, I would say that we don’t have a time limit. Generali Group reached a decision at a global level to enter several segments of assistance to the social community, while Generali Osiguranje Srbija joined The Human Safety Net movement last year. Also, we chose to participate in the implementation of the project for families in Serbia, which promotes the right of all children to equal opportunities in life. The purpose of this project is to provide parents, foster parents and guardians of the children under the age of 6, with knowledge, skills and support in performing the most difficult and most important work – developing children’s potential. We organized the first workshop under the auspices of the “Support, Not Perfection” project together with the Novak Djokovic Foundation, and thus marked the start of the partnership on this project. At the workshop, Novak and Jelena Djokovic shared their dilemmas when it in raising children with other parents. They were full of wonderful energy, and I have great impressions from the first workshop. We will be active participants in workshops across Serbia, in order to help and provide a better future and equal conditions for development of children in Serbia. I would like to conclude that we are doing this out of the goodness of our hearts and a desire to help, without any ambition to link it in any way to insurance.