Agenda 2020 – highlights 2019
Business model optimisation
More effective bancassurance
The local composite insurer in the Czech Republic and the life insurance company specialising in bancassurance were merged at the beginning of 2019. Following the mergers performed in Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and Austria, this successfully concluded an important part of the Group project for strengthening the bancassurance business.
VIG quality management is certified by TÜV
The VIG Holding Data Management and Processes area has been certified by TÜV since July 2019. This means that it satisfies the stringent requirements of the ISO 9001 quality management standard. The area includes, among other things, process management and reporting, which are responsible for Solvency II.
Erste Group cooperation
Bancassurance offers great potential
VIG insurance companies and Erste Group cooperate in eleven countries and make use of each other’s strengths as leading financial service providers. Expansion of bancassurance is one of the objectives of Agenda 2020.
The mergers of local composite insurers and life insurance companies specialising in bancassurance was a prerequisite for this. Developments in 2019 show that it was a success. Bancassurance generated a total premium volume of EUR 1.3 billion. That corresponds to an increase of 5% and equals around 13% of Group premiums. This area is even more important in Austria, where Wiener Städtische generated close to a quarter of its premium volume through its cooperation with Erste Group. The primary focus in bancassurance is on expanding non-life insurance. This area already recorded above-average growth of slightly more than 10% in 2019.
A shared digital hub focusing on bancassurance was also established in the spring of 2019. The employees are developing viable online solutions for Erste Group’s George web platform. The greater frequency of customer interaction in banks also offers good growth potential for policy sales. VIG Insurance Group and Erste Group are currently working on a separate strategy to take advantage of this potential. The goal is to provide even better service for each other’s shared customers.
Climate change strategy
VIG Insurance Group is withdrawing from coal
VIG Insurance Group has a goal of achieving sustainable profitable growth – while also assuming responsibility for its prerequisites: a clean environment and a society based on solidarity. In May 2019, the Managing Board approved a climate change strategy in coordination with the insurance companies that is mandatory for the entire Group. VIG Insurance Group will significantly reduce its investments in the coal sector as a result.
- Direct investments in companies in the coal sector will be reduced. This affects, for instance, bonds issued by mining companies or coal power companies. These investments will be considerably reduced by more than half by 2025 and entirely eliminated from the portfolio by 2035. Investments will be made in environmentally friendly projects instead. Around EUR 154 million was invested in green bonds at the end of 2019, more than twice the amount of the previous year. Projects like wind parks are, among other things, supported.
- The new climate change strategy also includes clear underwriting requirements. Since it entered into effect, VIG insurance companies have not provided any insurance for new coal mining or coal power plant projects. Existing policies will not be renewed, with transitional arrangements for countries whose economies and labour markets are highly dependent on the coal sector.
Further information on the new climate change strategy is available in the Sustainability Report and at www.vig.com/climate-change-strategy.
Ensuring future viability
VIG holding establishes its own corporate builder
VIG Holding is establishing its own corporate start-up in the Group, the “viesure innovation center”. The new company focuses on future trends in digital customer service, under the management of the largest insurance company, Wiener Städtische. Among other things, it aims to develop a digital ecosystem, digitalise processes and create innovative services that provide additional benefits.
New assistance services
VIG Insurance Group is expanding its assistance services and is using the EPAS software system, for example, which was developed specifically for the digitalisation of assistance, to assist customers in the motor line of business with their claims. Customers with a breakdown or accident receive a text message with a link. By opening the link, the customer’s location is automatically recorded and the nearest towing company is notified.
VIG XELERATE: A competition of ideas
The internal Group competition VIG Xelerate honours particularly innovative concepts for digital transformation of the Group. Two rounds took place in 2019. A total of eleven projects received awards, along with a total of more than EUR 1 million in support for implementation. The competition is also planned to take place in 2020.
Worldwide cooperation with start-ups
VIG Holding has been a partner of the leading worldwide innovation platform Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley since autumn 2019. The partnership allows VIG insurance companies to access a network of more than 15,000 reviewed start-ups – thereby combining their own innovation know-how with that of the entire world.
The reinsurance company VIG Re, headquartered in Prague, made a strategic investment in B3i Services in February 2019. This initiative of the global insurance industry operates a blockchain platform that allows insurers to place reinsurance. The peer-to-peer solution is aimed at making business processes more efficient and information exchange easier and quicker.
New climate change strategy
VIG Insurance Group published its climate change strategy in May 2019 with strict investment and underwriting guidelines for the coal sector that are aimed at promoting the transition to an environmentally-friendly low-carbon future. The new guidelines are mandatory for all VIG insurance companies and will significantly reduce exposure to the coal sector. On the one hand, direct investments in companies in the coal sector – especially mining companies and power plants – will be reduced. On the other hand, the new underwriting rules also stipulate that from now on no insurance will be provided for new projects in these areas.
Expansion of promising business areas
Targeted use of growth opportunities
VIG insurance companies take advantage of growth opportunities in particularly promising areas of the insurance market. In addition to the expansion of bancassurance (see the information box Bancassurance offers great potential), these primarily include the following:
Health insurance: around 12% increase in premium volume for the Group as a whole, 32% increase in the CEE region, 42% in the five key countries of Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Turkey and Hungary
Reinsurance: around 15% increase in VIG Re premium volume, mainly through an expansion of third-party business. VIG Re has also been pooling life reinsurance for the Group since 2019, which will generate considerable potential savings in coming years.
SME initiative: increase of around 13% in premium volume to EUR 385 million in the small and medium-sized enterprise segment
The future is taking shape
VIG Insurance Group is pushing ahead with digitalisation to allow it to communicate better with its customers, offer them additional benefits and make internal processes more efficient.
VIG companies are currently working on around 180 projects dealing with the digital transformation of the Group. VIG Insurance Group is investing around EUR 200 million in digitalisation during the course of Agenda 2020. Diversity is particularly important in the area of innovation, as diverse perspectives lead to a diversity of ideas. A shared understanding was ensured across the Group, with a “digital vision” specifying the topics (e.g. automation, intelligent data use, digital product range) where digitalisation can make a difference. Based on this, digital transformation plans that permit targeted measures are being developed by the individual companies together with VIG Holding. In addition, the “Digital Base”, a web platform promoting Group-wide cooperation and the exchange of best practice examples in the area of digital transformation, was expanded again in November and has been operating since February 2019. VIG Insurance Group is also using the internal Group innovation competition VIG Xelerate to promote digitalisation. Two rounds took place in 2019, and the best projects from the insurance companies were honoured.
In 2019, VIG Holding and Wiener Städtische jointly established the Group’s own corporate start-up, viesure, whose innovative solutions can be used throughout the Group. A highly qualified team of experts is working on transparent user-friendly customer services and digitalisation of internal processes. VIG also expanded its digital understanding in 2019 by becoming a “Founding Partner” of the leading worldwide innovation platform Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley. The partnership allows topics related to its specific interests to be developed with start-ups in Vienna, Munich and Silicon Valley. The investment in the blockchain initiative B3i Services is also paying off. In addition to the possibility of using blockchain technology to realise potential cost savings in reinsurance, it also allows VIG companies to exchange information with other leading reinsurers on the topic of digitalisation and the use of blockchain technology. The collaboration with Digital Impact Labs Leipzig, formerly Insurance Innovation Lab, is continuing. Numerous digital product ideas were generated in a workshop with Compensa Non-Life (Lithuania). The Digital Impact Labs Leipzig is also assisting with innovation projects in the motor insurance area, among other things.
How digitalisation is used in practice
The Wiener Städtische Gesundheit (health care) app
Wiener Städtische has offered a Gesundheit (health care) app for its customers since autumn 2019. It is available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and has already received excellent reviews. Customers with health insurance can submit invoices from doctors or for medication quickly and easily by photographing them and using the app to send them to the insurance company. Artificial intelligence is used in the background to automatically identify the data on the invoice. Valuable time is saved and the customers receive their money faster. The Gesundheit app was developed by the Group’s own start-up viesure.
The Union Biztosító Fitpuli app
The Fitpuli health care and lifestyle app was developed by the Hungarian company Union Biztosító. It is currently available for corporate customers and has been integrated into group health insurance. The app can be used with most of the armbands, fitness trackers and smart watches that are available, but also works without them. It improves health awareness and provides feedback on daily performance. Gamification elements motivate users to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
The Bulstrad Life chatbot
The Bulgarian insurance company Bulstrad Life and the consulting company TBI Info developed a chatbot that is available to all VIG companies. It allows customer interaction around the clock on all channels, such as websites, Facebook, Skype and Viber. Call centre integration allows a human advisor to be brought into the conversation if needed. The chatbot tool, which received support under the VIG Xelerate programme, will soon be used in at least two other VIG insurance companies.
Organisation and cooperation
The steady increase in statutory and regulatory requirements necessitate a more centralised structure for the Group and a more intense management by VIG Holding. Further development of the management function continued in 2019 and collaboration was improved using innovative solutions, such as the VIG Digital Base.