INSURANCE

Portugal 2019 | FINANCE | B2B

An evolving market offers not only myriad opportunities but also significant challenges for insurance companies.

Teresa Brantuas
TERESA BRANTUAS
CEO
Allianz Portugal
Steven Braekeveldt
STEVEN BRAEKEVELDT
CEO, Grupo Ageas Continental Europe & CEO
Grupo Ageas Portugal

How important is the Portuguese market for the group?

TERESA BRANTUAS It is great for our company to be part of the Allianz Group for many reasons. These include the support we have from the group in terms of technical know-how, human and financial resources, and access to what is going on worldwide. Allianz Portugal only represents 7.5% of the group's annual revenue because the country is small; however, it is still important for the group to have a presence in the Portuguese market because Allianz wants to cover more European countries. During the economic crisis, belonging to a group like Allianz was extremely important because it gave our customers, partners, providers, and employees a great deal of confidence. They knew we had a safe network to fall back on.

STEVEN BRAEKEVELDT Portugal is gaining in importance and will continue to do so. Ageas Seguros was completely lossmaking when we bought it, with losses of between EUR30 and 40 million a year. We are now on the verge of breaking even, and after 2019 will start to grow and become fairly quite important. In terms of the top line, Portugal is important because we do about EUR2 billion, which is important for the group and in terms of profits. The target is for EUR100 million in net profit from Portugal. We are still hungry in the Portuguese market; therefore, if new opportunities arise, we will look into acquiring more business.

What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for the company in the insurance business?

TB Our big challenge is changing the company to fulfill our clients' requirements. Looking at where our clients want to be and giving them what they need at the particular stage is always our focus. We have a full digitization project going on that is totally focused on the clients' needs. We work for almost every segment, including retail, corporate, and SME clients. Different business lines will evolve in different ways. Healthcare in particular will see the most change. This is a great opportunity for us, and healthcare is one sector we are betting on and investing in. Household insurance is another line of business that we are interested in because it is closely linked with several other services we provide. Similarly, motor insurance is one of the segments that will change rapidly. Allianz Group has a strong advantage in this segment because it is already investing in the future.

SB If we are looking at the long term, technology will change everything, and everything will be interconnected. Other insurance will be extremely important, such as cyber. In healthcare as well, there is 3D printing based on stem cells and microscopic robots to enter bodies and repair things. For a long time, insurance was only medical or auto; however, this has changed completely, and business is growing to include prevention. Fidelidade and Traquilidade are our main competitors, though in Portugal there are two business lines that are still overall loss making—motor and workers compensation. There should be more discipline in the pricing for motor and workers compensation.

What is your strategy to retain human capital?

TB We have to transform ourselves and give our employees the capabilities to be able to do this. This is the main pillar of our strategy because the people who work with us are our foundation. If we have people with the right skills who are happy to be at Allianz Portugal, we are halfway to success and carrying out the transformation we need to make. We have to provide our staff with professional training and ensure their wellbeing.

What are your main goals and priorities for the coming years?

SB Our goal for Portugal and Ageas is to move the country ahead. For the company, we need to work further on our holistic approach to customers, as by and large we are not there yet. We have to look at truly satisfying our customers and ensuring that Ageas becomes a social necessity. People should say, “if you get old, need something for your house, or if there is something wrong with your health, go to Ageas."