From 2017 to 2020, VIG Insurance Group focused on Agenda 2020, a strategic work programme based on the existing strategy aimed at laying the foundation for continued future success. The idea behind the programme was that a changing world requires continuous further development. The main objective was to strengthen the Group’s market position in Central and Eastern Europe. The result: Mission accomplished!
Strengthening the market position
VIG Insurance Group has been the market leader in the CEE region for years. To ensure this remains the case in the future, a package of initiatives was implemented to keep the business model up to date and allow it to take advantage of future opportunities. In addition, many of the measures implemented under Agenda 2020 improved the operating performance. Last but not least, cooperation between companies was improved to allow VIG Group to make even better use of diversity and roll out good ideas and best practices faster and more effectively in the Group.
“The Agenda 2020 work programme clearly increased the future viability of our Group.”Elisabeth Stadler CEO of VIG Insurance Group
Agenda 2020 focused on three areas:
Business model optimisation
VIG Insurance Group improved its operating performance and increased cost efficiency. The combined ratio fell significantly from 97.3% in 2016 to 95% in 2020.
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Streamlined costs, strong competitive position
The main objective of Agenda 2020 was to make better use of available resources. VIG Insurance Group therefore took advantage of unused synergies to create cost advantages and improve its competitive position. The measures implemented under Agenda 2020 included:
Mergers of back office functions, allowing several Group companies to use shared services. Service companies were established in Austria, Romania and Ukraine, for example, to provide IT services for the respective markets.
Group companies were merged when the potential synergies clearly outweighed the benefits of a separated market presence.
A significant part of the mergers: The local composite insurers were merged with the life insurance companies specialising in bank distribution. By combining their expertise, the Group was able to strengthen its bancassurance business and reduce costs.
mergers VIG Insurance Group performed 13 mergers in 11 countries under Agenda 2020.
Increased profits in the motor line of business
The goal of profit optimisation was particularly important in the motor line of business, where it was primarily achieved by reducing foreign claims expenses and introducing new pricing models in selected markets. The measures implemented under Agenda 2020 included:
Provision of central assistance to help companies settle foreign claims
Use of a foreign claims platform to network companies and business partners. This meant that fewer emails were written and coverage confirmations were sent in a matter of seconds rather than days. This rapid processing saves unnecessary costs.
Selective underwriting policy, in particular a reduction of the truck portfolio
Targeted measures in pricing policy through advanced data analysis and segmentation with risk-adequate pricing
Introduction of Group-wide underwriting guidelines
Improvements in claims processing
Closed file review was aimed at removing weak points in claims processing – thereby reducing claims payments by at least 2%. This goal was significantly exceeded. The means chosen to achieve this end was reviewing old insurance cases (“closed file”) to discover possible shortfalls in the process and, therefore, potential improvements:
VIG Insurance Group first used the closed file review method in 2017 in the motor and household insurance lines of business in Poland and Lithuania.
The method is now being used in 15 companies in twelve countries, and is being steadily expanded to other lines of business.
The findings of the reviews are being implemented in the form of process optimisations and training. This ensures that a uniform procedure is used for claims.
Claims handlers perform the closed file review themselves and thus receive an overall view of the claims. This important learning-by-experience effect improves the claims organisation as a whole.
The savings are sustainable and therefore continue in following years.
annual savings potential identified The identified annual savings potential represented more than 5% of claims expenses. That corresponded to around EUR 45 million in 2020 – for those companies and lines of business where closed file review was performed.
Systematic fight against fraud
One of the aims of Agenda 2020 was to identify and prevent unjustified claims payments. Savings of 2 to 3% of claims payments were expected. The measures included:
Development of an antifraud management process and handbooks consisting of a list of indicators for potential fraud tailored to each market.
Best practice examples as well as the indicators are Group wide collected and shared between the companies.
Fraud detection is initially manual in order to build up appropriate know-how in the Group. Individual steps are subsequently automated using artificial intelligence.
The antifraud process was being used in 22 companies in 16 countries in 2020.
By the end of 2020, almost all motor claims portfolios and 70% of all claims in the non-life sector as a whole were being analysed for possible cases of fraud. A further rollout is planned.
of claims payments were reduced in 2020 in areas where the antifraud process was used. This corresponds to EUR 28 million.
Ensuring future viability
VIG Insurance Group continues to develop its business model to make use of future opportunities. The digital transformation has been and continues to be promoted strongly in the Group. The expansion of assistance services is creating added value and improving customer relationships. New forms of insurance are being developed – in the area of mobility, for example. Especially promising lines of business, from health insurance to reinsurance and bancassurance, are being systematically expanded. As a result, the VIG Group is fit for the future and continues to adjust to a changing world.
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Reinsurance: Step to Western Europe
VIG Insurance Group expanded its reinsurance business as part of Agenda 2020. VIG Re was originally founded as an internal Group reinsurance company headquartered in Prague, which allowed it to establish itself as an important reinsurer in the CEE region. Third-party business with customers outside the Group continued to become more important in previous years, and since 2017 the focus moved to a controlled expansion within Continental Europe:
Focus on an attractive niche, namely regional insurance companies and mutual insurance companies.
Focus on an appropriate relationship between profitability and risk. VIG Re is continuously committed to the principles of a comprehensive enterprise risk management, strict underwriting discipline, a conservative investment and protection policy as paramount to ensure the resilience of reinsurance business.
Cost leadership in the reinsurance market: nimble and efficient business model.
Foundation of a branch in Frankfurt am Main in 2017 to serve the region of Germany, Austria and Switzerland
Foundation of a branch in Paris in 2018, for customers in France, Belgium and Luxembourg
premium volume increase VIG Re (incl. Wiener Re) premium volume has increased by 50% since 2016 to EUR 634 million in 2020. The number of customers grew from 320 to 538.
Strong partners: Promotion of bancassurance
VIG Insurance Group see great growth potential in using bancassurance to sell property and health insurance. The main instrument for taking usage of this potential is the long-standing close partnership with Erste Group. In 2018, the existing cooperation agreement was extended to 2033. VIG Insurance Group and Erste Group are both leading financial service providers in the CEE region and can therefore optimally provide each other mutual support.
Cooperation with Erste Group in eleven countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia
The mergers of local composite insurers and life insurance companies specialising in bancassurance were successfully completed in 2019.
VIG Insurance Group and Erste Group founded a joint centre of competence in Prague for digitalisation in the area of bancassurance. The focus is on solutions for “George”, the digital customer platform of Erste Group
In 2020, 39,000 policies were already sold through George in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania, mainly credit and travel insurance.
billion in premiums VIG Insurance Group generated around EUR 1.3 billion in premiums through bancassurance in 2020. That represents 12.4% of total Group premiums.
Trend topic health
Central and Eastern Europe offers good growth potential, particularly in the area of health insurance. VIG Insurance Group set a target under Agenda 2020 to double health insurance premium volume in five selected countries – Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Turkey and Hungary – by 2020.
VIG Group developed measures within a structured process with the local companies.
These measures included, among others, sales initiatives, developing new products, focussed marketing and process optimisation, for example in claims processing.
VIG Holding ensured that an exchange of knowledge took place between the companies.
Digital health services were expanded. The companies also expanded their telemedicine services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
times increased premium volume Premium volume increased by a factor of 2.2 from 2016 to 2020 in the five key countries – even more than the doubling that had been set as a target. Group-wide, health insurance premiums rose 36%.
Insurance of the future
Technological developments are changing the business model of insurance companies. VIG companies want to cover new types of risks with their offer and increase the added value they offer.
In the future in particular private individuals will own cars more rarely, but instead – according to the principle of the "sharing economy" – make use of new types of mobility services. Autonomous driving will also change the way people get around. The traditional motor insurer will become a mobility insurer, and possibly also a mobility provider. The VIG Group founded a motor strategy lab to deal with the technical and legal changes and changes in consumer behaviour. In 2020, the Group also acquired an interest in the German start-up ViveLaCar, which offers a subscription car platform as an innovative mobility solution for target groups that want to stay flexible.
The Internet offers great opportunities, but also brings risks. VIG companies have developed innovative insurance services that protect both private individuals and companies from cyber risks such as hacker attacks.
Since 2020, the Austrian VIG company Donau Versicherung uses a blockchain solution for offer submission in the corporate business that makes processing significantly faster and more customer-friendly.
Moving quickly into the digital future
VIG Insurance Group has worked intensively for years to promote the digital transformation in all its lines of business. The numerous activities performed under Agenda 2020 were therefore concerned with digitalisation and innovative projects for the future. The goal was to make customer communications faster and easier, offer them additional benefits and a better experience and make internal processes more efficient. The COVID-19 pandemic gave digitalisation an even bigger boost. Many customers are using digital channels for the first time to communicate with VIG companies.
Consistent with its philosophy, the VIG Group is primarily promoting digitalisation at the local level. VIG Holding provides support during this process by, for example, providing a digital vision that the companies use to develop their structured digital transformation plans.
VIG Holding’s VIG Digital Hub provides a central hub for information exchange, such as news on trend research and best practices examples from the entire Group. All employees have access to the collaborative web platform Digital Base. They also use this portal to network with colleagues and exchange information on innovation projects.
Since 2018, the internal Group digitalisation competition VIG Xelerate has provided a strong incentive to develop innovative ideas – thereby promoting a culture of openness and innovation. Several rounds have taken place, with prizes awarded to the best concepts in each round. VIG Holding has so far provided around EUR 7 million in support for the implementation. The pitches took place virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time. With the highest number of projects submitted since the start of VIG Xelerate, VIG's strong innovative power is confirmed, especially in times of pandemic.
One of the most comprehensive digitalisation projects is being implemented by the Polish company Compensa. Among other things, the Genesis project is aimed at automating processes with robot technology, i.e. robotic process automation, and machine learning. The project received five renowned innovation awards in 2020 alone.
VIG Insurance Group cooperates closely with start-ups to implement innovations more quickly. Its cooperation with the innovation platform Plug and Play, for example, offers the Group access to 15,000 pre-screened start-ups. A close cooperation has also existed with Digital Impact Labs in Leipzig for years, with a focus on innovation processes.
The VIG Group founded - for example - viesure, which acts as an innovation hub for the Group and develops new solutions – such as the “losleben” app for Wiener Städtische, which allows customers to submit claim notifications and doctor’s bills by smartphone. The Beesafe start-up was founded in Poland and offers completely digital motor insurance. In addition, the VIG Group also invests in existing start-ups, such as the subscription car platform ViveLaCar.
digitalisation projects The VIG companies were working on around 180 digitalisation projects under Agenda 2020.
Providing added value with assistance
VIG Insurance Group is increasingly offering assistance services itself, instead of outsourcing them to third-party providers. The goal is to make use of synergies and reduce claims expenses. It also allows VIG companies to offer customers more benefits in addition to risk insurance, thereby strengthening customer loyalty. Last but not least, assistance broadens the business model and creates a foundation for additional digital services. Following measures were implemented under Agenda 2020:
Group-own assistance companies established under the “Global Assistance” brand
Service quality optimised by monitoring the entire claims process from initial contact to payment
Many assistance services are provided digitally using a digital service tool developed in-house.
With Global Assistance Services also an assistance IT company was founded in Prague to develop in-house software solutions, which acts as a development, sales and accounting hub for the company's own software solution.
The Group is already offering its own assistance services in ten countries.
million assistance cases VIG companies have already handled 1.3 million assistance cases since 2017, mainly in the motor, household and travel insurance lines of business.
Organisation and cooperation
VIG Insurance Group sees its lived diversity, decentralised structures and local entrepreneurship as important competitive advantages that pay off in its daily business. The management of the Group and cooperation between companies were further improved under Agenda 2020.
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Efficient, effective management
Good cooperation is essential for success in a diverse Group and was therefore given special attention under Agenda 2020. A clear management model and high-performance infrastructure for Group-internal communication ensure efficient, effective cooperation – and ensure success for all VIG companies.
VIG Insurance Group defined criteria for good cooperation that are set down in writing in its “Principles for cooperation within Vienna Insurance Group”.
New Group-wide platforms were established under Agenda 2020 for exchanging best practices and innovations. Examples include the VIG Digital Hub, which promotes the digital transformation in all of the companies, as well as the innovation boot camp, which not only serves to maintain skills in the area of innovation capability, but also enables an intra-group language code through collaborative training that facilitates cooperation. These platforms allow companies to collaborate effectively on many initiatives and enable VIG Holding to play a supporting role.
Increasing regulatory requirements, such as those related to solvency and IFRS 17, are increasing the management activities performed by VIG Holding.