MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

Panama 2019 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

Vivir Seguros expanded into Panama to diversify, but the nature and growth potential of the market meant it was not long before the Panamanian market became the company's number-one priority.

Rommel Martínez Pereyra
BIOGRAPHY
Rommel Martínez Pereyra has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, holding executive positions in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Panama for the Humano Group, the parent company of Vivir Seguros. He studied Business Administration at the Catholic University of Santo Domingo and completed a Senior Management Program at INCAE Business School in Costa Rica.

Why did you decide to come to Panama?

Grupo Humano is the leader and largest insurance company in the Dominican Republic market. It started operations back in 2001, providing exclusive health and life insurance coverage. In 2018, general risk insurance was included in the portfolio. In order to diversify its operations, in 2011 the group decided to expand into Central America, starting with El Salvador under the brand Aseguradora Vivir. Two years later, the group established its insurance and reinsurance operations in Panama, the country base for Vivir. Making Panama our headquarters was a strategic decision, considering market attractiveness, and growth and stability of the country. Furthermore, Panama shares a number of similarities with the Dominican Republic, allowing us to benefit from our primary experience and knowledge. Panama's economic growth and the nature of its open market make it an extremely important and lucrative market. Panama checked all our requirements, providing us a potential opportunity to develop our business model and offer our variety of insurance plans.

What is the relation between your international expansion project and Panama?

For us and in general, Panama is a highly important market given the sort of economic growth it has been experiencing. We entered Panama because we saw a potential opportunity to develop our business model and offer our variety of insurance plans. Additionally, we also see Panama as a global commercial and financial center located only a couple of hours away from the Dominican Republic and other countries in the region like El Salvador, where we started our expansion project.

What steps are you taking to differentiate your products from those in the market?

Since the beginning, we focused our value proposition on providing quality service as well as offering a complete health and life portfolio for businesses and individuals. Panama is a competitive market, with 23 insurance companies offering all kinds of plans, and these keep us more committed to evolve and achieve our goals. We believe that the key factors to success are customer service and our relationship with the insurance brokers and innovation.

What premium products do you offer to broaden your client portfolio?

We have a portfolio of products focused on different segments: a specific mix has been designed to cater both high-income and low-income individuals and business. We have premium packages for managers and executives that cover all services across the world, without the need for reimbursement. Notably, we recently launched our mobile application to offer a better and agile service to our customers.

What is the company's long-term outlook?

We are focused on the corporate segment because we have experienced good growth in that segment over the last few years. Moving forward, we want to grow in life and corporate segments and seek other opportunities to assure future growth.

What are your main targets in Panama?

We are working to improve our service platform, upgrading our portfolio with new benefits and coverage, strengthening our commercial structure, and focusing on corporate accounts.

With an annual turnover of more than USD8.4 million, Seguros Vivir Panama closed 2018 as the 11th ranked insurance company out of the 23 insurance companies operating in Panama. What are your expectations for 2020?

In 2019, we are projecting a 20% growth to register a turnover of about USD10 million, and we hope to continue achieving higher growth in 2020. We are expecting to close 2020 with at least 13 million direct subscribed premiums.

What priorities and initiatives would you like to see from the new government regarding the insurance sector in Panama?

Panama is an extraordinary country and we have always bet on its continuous development. We are expecting positive steps from the new government and we are confident that it will be a good period for Panama. The key factors for the development of the industry are strong institutions, modernization, and support for the sector.

Lately, Seguros Vivir has been strengthening its social media game. How has social media impacted insurance penetration in Panama, and what are your strategies in this area going forward?

Panama is one of the countries with the highest internet penetration rate; it also leads the smartphones usage ranking in the region. We believe that social networks such as Facebook and Instagram are already an important channel of communication with our customers and we are sure that they will have a greater relevance over time, so we will definitely continue to grow through them, sharing information about our company, products, tips for a healthy life, and our added values. In line with this, we are planning to increase the promotion of our product.