homepage_name! > Editions > Number 137 > Interview - UNIQA

We live better together

Since its entry into the Serbian market, UNIQA has been among the leading insurance companies. This is where we intend to stay. We started the year of our 15th anniversary proud of our continuing growth, development and establishment of new standards. We stand out due to our innovative and modern approach through which we are changing the image of insurance as a conservative industry.

1. Behind you is one more year of success, in which you celebrate a very important anniversary – 14 years of successful business. What business results has UNIQA achieved in 2020?

On the journey from an unknown company on the local market to a firmly positioned brand, we continued with good results throughout 2019, making a total profit of RSD 308.2 million. The global challenge we were facing from the beginning of 2020 required the revision and adjustment of plans to the changes in the financial and other spheres of life. UNIQA achieved expected results in unexpected circumstances by sticking with the company’s business philosophy – providing security for people. The efforts made to protect the interests of employees, clients and business partners prove that UNIQA always fulfills promises, which resulted in the payment of more than RSD 3.5 billion for claims for damages during the first 10 months and around RSD 63.5 million of profit paid to life insurance holders.

2. Which segments realized the biggest growth?

As expected in the course of the pandemic, the biggest growth was realized by the voluntary health insurance premium, followed by property and life insurance. The growing interest in home insurance held by less than 10% of Serbian citizens is encouraging. This shows its potential and the significance of raising awareness of the importance of holding an insurance policy.

3. Have you realized the envisaged plans for this year and to which extent did the worldwide situation affect them?

Challenging times dictate trends, but they also create new opportunities. With strategic planning and an orientation towards digitalization, UNIQA was prepared for the imposed circumstances and adjusted its plans accordingly. Previous investments in technological development and the development of new online applications guaranteed the continued provision of top services for clients and business stability for the company. The 80% drop of travel insurance due to a significantly reduced number of international travels had the greatest impact on the whole market. Those who decide to travel abroad could do so with UNIQA travel insurance including an additional COVID-19 coverage. On the other hand, there was a significant growth of other types of insurance, for example voluntary health insurance.

4. Since its entry into the Serbian market, UNIQA has proven to be a modern, efficient, innovative and flexible company. You diligently worked on the introduction of new technologies and the digitalization of all business segments. What has been achieved in that field until now and what are your future plans?

- UNIQA topped 2020 off with the completion of the whole process of providing contactless services to clients – from the initiation of the offer, the purchase or payment of the premium, to an online damage report, video damage estimation and communication with the contact center employees via the phone, live chats on the website or Viber for reporting illness or accidents abroad. Recently, we created a platform unique in Serbia and the region, which is called “My appraiser” and which was inspired by the clients requiring maximum speed, flexibility, top quality and simplicity. This superior service for estimating car and home damages enables clients to be their own damage appraiser using their smartphone or tablet and the internet. This additionally accelerates the completion of the documentation and the compensation of damages. Digitalization remains the primary direction of development, while retaining our approach including live communication with clients, as, despite the increasing number of online users, we still have many clients preferring “live” communication and visiting our branches. We will carry on introducing innovations to simplify premium payments and the process of concluding contracts, and also create platforms for consolidated overview and insight into concluded insurance contracts.

5. You keep introducing new products. What is your current offer for clients and what kind of innovations are you preparing for the upcoming period and in which segment?

As a friend, consultant and partner, UNIQA does not seek clients for products, but reacts with products to the needs of clients. We took another leap enhancing the home insurance coverage. UNIQA is the only insurance company in Serbia providing increased security and protection through new home insurance policies, in the framework of which clients receive appliances for remote monitoring and protection of insured facilities for free. In partnership with VIP Mobile, we enabled our clients to monitor the activities in the insured facility live via their smartphone, tablet and the internet and to receive notifications when a smoke, water and motion detector is activated, which provides for timely reaction and the prevention of unwanted events. In addition to the complete home security solution, UNIQA enabled the development of small businesses on a secure basis with the property insurance policy for small and medium-sized businesses providing timely protection of property, equipment and stocks against risks that could endanger the business. In order to extend our online offer, we will soon add another product to our online shop. The client is our focus and direction sign and UNIQA paces with pride of thejustified trust and many awards including the latest – the “Customers’ Friend” gold medal by the renowned ICERTIAS organization for outstanding customer relations.

6. You pay a lot of attention to socially responsible business practices. How do you choose what you support, that is, what are your guiding principles?

- As a symbol for reliability, accountability and a different perception of the world, UNIQA does not measure success only through numbers, but also in terms of positive impact on the society as a whole, as we live better together. Accountability and solidarity are entangled in the DNA of the company that monitors the needs of the community with special attention and sensibility in order to adequately and timely contribute to matters of social importance in the interest of the people. So far, UNIQA has invested over RSD 100 million in socially responsible projects and charity support in Serbia. This year alone, the company supported the UNICEF pre-primary education program and the construction of a new parents’ home by NURDOR. It provided support for the cultural sector, namely the seventh “Shakespeare Festival”, and for the sports sector, as the official insurance of the Serbian water polo team and the Belgrade marathon, which was held virtually for the first time. UNIQA proved its solidarity by caring for the most endangered clients and those over the age of 65, initiating cooperation with the Office of the President of the Republic of Serbia, and by donating RSD 5 million to the health system for the purchase of ventilators and indispensable medical equipment. For the same purpose, UNIQA, together with all insurance companies in the Association of Serbian Insurers, contributed to a joint donation of RSD 11 million supporting the innovative DokTok project for free psychological and medical help for citizens via online consultations with doctors. On the further journey towards the establishment of a secure future, UNIQA continues to motivate and inspire people to embrace new experiences and be the heroes of their lives.

7. Private health insurance is a growing segment, and UNIQA is a leader in this field. What is your projection regarding the development of this market?

Voluntary health insurance is a relatively young and the fastest growing segment in Serbia. With as much as a 90% share in concluding policies, the companies are the main bearers of private health insurance. The dynamic growth above 20% is associated with the country’s first step towards a unification of the state and private health insurance. Recognized as a company benefit, it is excluded from taxation due to a monthly premium for employees of up to RSD 5,872. Citizens are also increasingly turning to the private health sector, so a 30% annual growth is expected for this type of insurance. As a leader in voluntary health insurance, UNIQA has the widest network including over 830 health institutions. The clients are offered various packages, while they choose the date, institution and doctor themselves – and all that without waiting periods. Doctors from the MedUNIQA call center are available for consultations 24 hours a day, and UNIQA continues to create additional benefits because health comes first.

8. The insurance market is growing not only in Serbia, but also in the region. Insurance companies are changing their strategies and leaving certain markets to focus on others. In that sense, what is the strategy of UNIQA when it comes to doing business in Serbia?

One of the largest acquisitions in Central and Eastern Europe, worth EUR 1 billion, is last year’s agreement of the UNIQA Group, present on 18 European markets, on the purchase of three companies of the French AXAGroup in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Through this acqui sition, UNIQA becomes No. 5 in Central and Eastern Europe with more than 15 million clients, additional EUR 800 million in premiums and 2,100 new employees. The strategy of the UNIQA Group, under whose auspices we operate, is also illustrated by the arrival on the Serbian market in early 2014, following the acquisition of the insurance company Zepter, as well as the acquisition of the insurance company Basler in Serbia and Croatia. We continue to monitor the market and new opportunities, and if the requirements are fulfilled, we are prepared to invest in the expansion of our business operations.

9. What will be the focus of UNIQA until the end of this year? What are your long-term, primary, and strategic goals and expectations for the near future?

- Our focus on the client guiding and inspiring us means that we are present wherever clients expect us to be. It is imperative that in the process of creating technological trends, we maintain an impeccable quality of service, continue to strengthen our product offer, superior services andinvestments in digitalization – which is one of the symbols of UNIQA .

10. Ever since this whole coronavirus narrative began, we’ve been reading and hearing how, when this is all over, there will come a time of the so-called “new normal”, both in business and in life. What is your perspective on this?

A company that keeps learning and continuously pushing boundaries always starts from itself, implementing changes within the company to keep pace with the latest trends. In order to be able to meet customer requirements, a company must be flexible, open and innovative, i.e. ready for the future. In business, the “new normal” implies an orientation towards modern technologies and digital transformation with the aim of improving business and the quality of life by making everyday life easier through the rationalization of time as the most expensive resource. In addition, it implies a shift in the way of thinking and attitude towards the changing needs and requirements of clients, but also a different organization of business operations adapted to the new times. In this dynamic process, UNIQA is not just a passive observer, but an active participant who has been creating new standards and the “new normal” in its environment for years. UNIQA develops its business by relying on traditional insurance values with the firm belief that trust, loyalty and high moral standards will always be valued, even in the future described as the “new normal” that has already begun at UNIQA.

11. UNIQA comprises around 600 employees and more than 600,000 clients in Serbia. What measures have you taken as a company to protect your employees?

The health of our employees, their families and our clients has been and remains our first priority. Since the declaration of the pandemic, UNIQA has mobilized all available resources to enable its employees to fully work from home and to provide its clients with the continuity of impeccable service. In addition to protecting our employees, it is extremely important to maintain team spirit, motivation and productivity. In compliance with all preventive measures, UNIQA branches were the first to reopen, and 50% of employees have been at their workplaces at all times since the beginning of fall. Even in such circumstances, UNIQA is expanding its team while providing full support to new employees so as to make their adjustment period as easy and simple as possible.