Romania’s rapidly developing insurance industry has attracted several European insurance leaders, including Austria’s UNIQA. Franz Weiler, CEO, discusses why his company chose to establish a presence in Romania.
European Times: UNIQA is active in 19 markets. Why did the company enter Romania?
Franz Weiler: Any serious insurance company is looking for a market with sustainability, predictability, and long-term potential. UNIQA sees progress in Romania’s efforts to regulate its insurance sector and we want to play a role in stabilizing the local insurance industry. We are expanding our portfolio in Romania and focusing on life and health insurance, which are the main growth areas in the Romanian insurance industry. UNIQA is now one of Romania’s top ten insurance players. We have a strong partnership with Raiffeisen Bank and offer a service complementary to theirs. UNIQA’s mission is to be the insurance partner of choice for individuals and SMEs. We also serve large enterprises, like leasing companies, b2b. The three sales channels through which we reach our clients are: own employees, insurance brokers and banks. We aim to provide more than insurance; we want to provide solutions.
European Times: What are some current challenges in Romania’s insurance industry?
Franz Weiler: I see a challenge in the law framing through collaboration between experts and authorities. For example, over the past two years there has been a significant decline in household insurance, from three million insured households in 2014 to two million today. The reason for this drop is the government’s Insurance Pool Against Natural Disasters (PAID) compulsory home insurance against earthquakes, floods and landslides. It was a very good idea, but the result was not as expected. The government used the insurance industry to enforce mandatory insurance, and this strategy failed. I believe that in close collaboration with if insurance industry experts, a better solution would have been found. Both the industry and beneficiaries have been negatively affected.
Moreover, many consumers do not understand the difference between compulsory and voluntary insurance, which shows that we need to do much more about achieving insurance literacy in Romania.
European Times: What is your personal message about Romania’s life-insurance sector?
Franz Weiler: The insurance industry is a business based on trust. UNIQA guarantees its customers that we will be there when they need us. Insurance industry players should do their homework about the Romanian market and should always strive to earn their customers’ trust. Insurance companies active here in Romania should also prove that the insurance needs in this market can be fulfilled by existing companies.