Jürg Schiltknecht, are you satisfied with how the 2019 financial year progressed in Germany?
I am indeed. I’m very satisfied with what we achieved in 2019 with Baloise in Germany. I’m really proud to be able to say that we have succeeded in turning things around – and now we have a very solid basis for continuing our profitable growth and expanding our market share, thus enabling us to make a larger contribution to the Group’s profits.
What’s the reason for this successful development?
There’s no one single answer. We launched a whole host of measures, the combined effect of which is now generating a positive impact on a sustained basis. We have adapted the business mix in our corporate customer base and are concentrating on the SME segment. We’re outward-looking; market proximity is a key priority for us. We aim to win over our customers and sales partners with outstanding service and simplicity. We want our sales partners to be able to look after their customers. And we don’t want to spread ourselves too thinly; we want to apply ourselves in the segments where our true strengths lie.
The successful execution of the factors target segment focus, product quality and service focus has led to the fact that we have been able to gain significant additional customers.Jürg Schiltknecht, CEO Basler Versicherungen Germany
Can you give us a few specific examples of this?
Absolutely. Let’s start with our consistently executed target segment strategy. We focus on selected segments – that applies to both life insurance and property insurance. These include, in particular, biometrics and capital-efficient retirement provision products in the life business segment, as well as property, liability, accident and car insurance in the private customer property business segment, and property, liability and engineering insurance in the corporate customer property business segment. We don’t do everything, but what we do, we do it well and strive to be at the top of our game there. This is something we have had success with in our private customer business, for example, where we follow what is referred to as the “medal strategy”. We want our private customer products to be featured in at least the top five in price comparison systems and rankings.
Our outstanding service is reflected in our customers’ and sales partners’ satisfaction and their willingness to recommend us. For instance, we took first place in the broker survey for the second time in a row in the property broker sales category, and fourth place in the life insurance broker category. For the third year running our customers have ranked us as a steady pair of hands across sectors and among the top 50 most service-oriented companies in Germany.
The successful execution of the factors target segment focus, product quality and service focus has led to the fact that we have been able to gain significant additional customers in the past three years and have made a important contribution to the group's strategic goal of "1 million additional customers".
Thanks to our excellent quality in the management of basic losses in the non-life business, we achieved an outstanding claims ratio in 2019, even by market comparison, and, in combination with an equally improved expense ratio, a combined ratio of significantly less than 95 per cent, which is considerably below our target range of 96 to 98 per cent.
The German market is dominated by a few heavyweights. What role can Baloise play here?
We have a relatively small market share in comparison to the market leaders. But far from holding ground, we are expanding on this, especially in our target segments of biometrics and retirement provision in the life insurance business, and in claims, liability and accident cover in the private and corporate customer property business. Technologically and with regard to digitalisation we’re positioning ourselves as a state-of-the-art market provider in any case. Again, more investments and efforts are required here, but this will facilitate straightforward, quick and secure cooperation with our customers and partners.