The Hungarian Insurance company Groupama Garancia was established on April 1, 2009 with the fusion of the insurance firms Groupama and OTP Garancia. Diplomacy & Trade talked to the CEO of Groupama Garancia, Yann Ménétrier about the company’s presence on the Hungarian insurance market scene and the results of the previous financial year.
"The insurance market for the year 2012 was one of the most difficult the country has ever passed through because of the continued economic downturn. However, Groupama Garancia confirmed its 3rd place among insurance companies in Hungary and – despite the huge tax burden – realized profit in 2012, as well,” the CEO summarized the situation.
He said it was important in the achievement of these results that the deterioration of the economic situation was partially offset by two independent factors. “One was the favorable weather conditions we experienced in the year 2012, and – as a result of that – a better loss ratio for our residential and agricultural branches, areas where we are dominant players in the market. The other one was an improvement in the European financial market and its positive effects on the Hungarian market. Its favorable impact showed both in the fixed interest rate products environment and in the value of our equity portfolio."
As for the most popular types of insurance on the Hungarian market, CEO Ménétrier pointed out that compared to last year, an increase can be seen in the market, due particularly to a higher number of life insurance contracts.
“We believe that there is going to be improvement on the savings market, since in times of great uncertainty, households are starting to save again, which offers us a growth opportunity in the area of life insurance. However, in non-life insurance, the competition will continue as households seek simpler and less costly insurance solutions. Therefore, the competitively priced online automotive, Casco, home and travel insurance will continue to grow in popularity. As for us, our goal is the following: to get even closer to our customers and provide quality service at a reasonable price for them."
He stresses that Groupama Garancia Insurance is a major player in the domestic insurance market. “In addition to the 150 branches and the network of approximately 1,700 sales representatives of our own, we also make our products and services available through 400 branches and over 450 broker partners of OTP Bank and, of course, through our direct sales channel Groupamadirekt.hu. As a composite insurer, we provide a full range of insurance services to retail and corporate customers in the life and non-life insurance business, as well.”
The company also wishes to reach out to as many people as possible in the area of corporate social responsibility. In this field, the objectives of Groupama Garancia – just like those of the Groupama Group – are to promote sustainable economic development, for which the company is initiating and supporting multiple activities, including the areas of prevention, sports sponsorship and culture.
With the fusion in 2009, Groupama Garancia also enjoys having an international background. Yann Ménétrier says "the success of the action plan adopted by the Groupama Group at the end of 2011 bore the fruition of excellent results internationally. Despite the financial crisis affecting many countries, the Groupama Group managed to reinforce its financial background in 2012 and, at the same time, reduce the risk of its asset portfolios. The Fitch credit rating agency improved the classification indicating financial strength of Groupama SA and its main subsidiaries to 'BBB-' from 'BB +' in March this year. The Group has become financially stable, thus demonstrating its reliability. So, in addition to international experience, the financially strong group also provides a stable background for the Hungarian subsidiary. "
It looks as if natural disasters have become more frequent in recent years and Groupama Garancia is prepared to handle these situations.
“From a financial point of view, we dispose of strong reinsurance protection against naturals events. For the handling of natural disasters during the past year, we introduced our expedited claims process, so that we could handle the incoming claims faster. During the flood in June this year, we provided immediate financial assistance and offered free accident policies to 6,000 volunteers working on the strengthening of embankments, volunteers who helped in the disaster relief work. Thanks to the efficient protection and resistance of dikes, we expect less than two thousands claims reported in this case, as well. For comparison: so far this year, we handled about ten thousand claims arising from natural disasters not related to the flood," the CEO of Groupama Garancia concluded.
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