Jeroen van Leeuwen (COO Euroins) and Higinio Iglesias (CEO ebroker)
Interview published in the 17 issue of the magazine Actualidad Seguradora, dated 25 of November of 2019.
How did EUROINS come about?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - It is a group that was founded 20 years ago in Bulgaria by a group of entrepreneurs who came from banking, finance, technology and communication and who discovered that insurance was an interesting sector and a good business. Currently, it is one of the largest Non-Life companies in the country, although we also have a small Life entity.
What other countries are they in?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - We have a significant presence in Romania, which is a larger market than the Bulgarian one, and we are also in North Macedonia, Greece, Poland, Ukraine and Georgia. The activity in Greece started four years ago and in Poland this year.
What formula did you choose to enter these markets?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - Normally buying a local company, but in Poland and Greece it was different, since the insurers available were very expensive. Therefore, in both strategic markets we decided to start under the formula of free provision of services. In Greece the company has consolidated, and is going to expand beyond Auto insurance. We have already opened a branch in Athens and something similar is expected in Poland.
With EUROINS we have seen the opportunity to help boost the broker business with a technological hinge role between brokers and insurers. We have transferred what are the needs of the broker and, from there, we support that relationship.
And in Spain?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - The idea is to do the same as in Greece. We have been analyzing the Spanish market for some time. As elsewhere, we have found it difficult to identify a potential purchase. But Spain is strategically very important for a group like ours and that is why we are here, because we believe in this market.
What is the size of the group?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - The total turnover in Europe is 330 million euros in premiums. We have about 4.000 employees on our staff, in addition to a series of collaborators, non-exclusive agents, brokers…. More than 98% of our business comes through brokers.
Although his goal is No Life, he has also mentioned a small business in Life ...
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - So is. We have it only in Bulgaria and through banks. They are usually policies associated with loans or bank products. It is still small and we would like to develop it, but always on solid foundations. It must be recognized that in many markets it is difficult to start a Life business and offer products that are good.
What led them to sign a collaboration agreement with ebroker to represent them and help in the distribution of their Car insurance?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - As a foreign company entering a market, we need to have a good contact. ebroker has proven to be a trusted partner for us and brokers. The most important thing is always the client and, for a foreign company that is starting, the only way to reach them is through someone who already has the trust of those clients. ebroker is the partner that can make us reach the brokers. Also, we trust that they will advise us well on what is a good idea and what is not, because we know that they will ask the runners first. If they get that feedback, they will transmit it to us.
A vision in the relationship with insurers. Today we talk a lot about connectivity, information exchange services, standards, ... We believe that technology can do more for our customers than offer software; We can try that this software has a content of services, of business opportunities.
And with EUROINS do you see the possibility of going further?
HYGIENE CHURCHES. - So is. We have seen the opportunity to develop this idea, to help boost the broker's business with a technological hinge role between them and the insurers. We have transferred what are the needs of the broker and, from there, we support that relationship. For us, such an agreement implies providing value to customers. We think there is room to develop a project together. It is not easy because, in a market as consolidated as Spanish, implementing new ideas costs, but we hope it goes well.
Each and every one of our products must be profitable. For that, you have to set the price in an appropriate way and make sure that you have the trust of both customers and brokers ”
Jeroen van Lions
EUROINS, do you listen to them much more than other insurers in the market?
HYGIENE CHURCHES. - Everyone is conditioned by their history. It is not the same to change the dynamics that you already have, than to develop them from scratch with different models. EUROINS listens to us and, as it has to do everything again, we can give you ideas that are difficult in other areas. The market is multichannel; Everyone already has their multichannel development models so, when you start working with an entity that has to build its distribution models, you try that the channel you defend and in which you believe has greater relevance in these origins.
multichannel; Everyone already has their multichannel development models so, when you start working with an entity that has to build its distribution models, you try that the channel you defend and in which you believe has greater relevance in these origins.
Then, once we have established ourselves, we may transfer the business to a branch.
Cars in Spain is one of the most competitive branches ...
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - We are used to working in very competitive markets. An example is Romania in the last two years, and even so we are among the most profitable insurers, although this does not mean that profitability is very high. The same is happening in Bulgaria, where the market has had a very dynamic phase, but we survived because we knew how to compete and learn from difficulties.
And how did they do it?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - One of our standards is that all products must be profitable. For that, you have to set the price properly and ensure that you have the trust of clients and brokers, which happens, among other things, to pay claims quickly.
Are you prepared for that profound change that comes in car insurance?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - We are a very technological group. We have our own technology company; Some entities of the group are dedicated to the sale of cars and repair, so we closely follow their progress. We are as prepared as any German or English company to face changes in the market.
Are they going to cover the new mobility systems?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - In each EU country a different solution is being given to this issue, but, yes, we will be there offering that coverage. In the Netherlands there are electric scooters and a debate was opened, but the insurers said that if they have two wheels and a motor, they need compulsory insurance. But this summer the politicians decided to postpone the decision, so now the electric scooter does not exist in the Netherlands. It is an imaginative solution but we do not believe it is the most successful.
In addition to Autos, do you plan to enter other Non-Life branches?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - Later. It will depend on the response of the brokers, but, probably, we will market Home, Accidents, ...
Solidity and stability
What growth targets have been set in Spain?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - We do not foresee a very large share in the short term because it would only be achieved by pulling prices and that does not contribute to a healthy market. We want solid and stable growth, without rushing. We are here to stay.
Is ebroker going to follow EUROINS in all its development plans?
HIGINIO IGLESIAS. - Yes. We are very excited about this project because rarely can a broker community be given the opportunity to cooperate with an insurer in the medium and long term, develop a project where one, as a distributor, fits in with that policy, can say what you think and that is transferred to the market proposal. We are aware that launching this project requires effort and time, but if EUROINS feels comfortable and believes that we are a good partner, we are ready to play the game. We also liked his idea to bet on the medium term, with prudent objectives because normally that does not happen. People are often in a great hurry to quickly reach large numbers, which does not always lead to a successful conclusion.
Does ebroker participate in the development of EUROINS products?
HIGINIO IGLESIAS. - They listen to us, we give them our opinions, we tell them what we think is the best for the user community. Obviously, they are the insurer and they have to assess the decisions because they are the ones who assume the risks and those who pay the claims, but, until now, they take us into account and incorporate many of the ideas that we propose. As the proposals are successful, future cooperation can be much closer and broader.
ebroker has been collaborating with EUROINS for two years now. Why do they announce it now?
HIGINIO IGLESIAS. - We started the talks a couple of years ago and we have been launching the processes, creating the relationship between the brokers and the company, solving problems that arise when making the model operational… We have been oiling the model for a long year. Now we are interested in telling it and making it known. We are at an important moment. We have taken off and we must reach cruising speed.
EUROINS has chosen in Spain the broker channel as a means of distribution discarding direct sales. Why?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - The brokers are in continuous contact with the client. They are a permanent source of information to tell us what services and product changes we have to implement. We offer you a product that is worth it and that adds value to your portfolio. Regarding the waiver of the direct channel, I believe that clients prefer to have choice rather than go through a single insurance company. Even if they search the Internet, they will prefer a broker because they know that this way they will have the possibility of professional advice on the best insurance option. In addition, it offers a personal contact and the client knows that, if something happens, they will know what to do, answer their questions. The broker channel offers us the best dialogue with the client.
We do not expect to reach a very large quota at short term because you only know I would be pulling prices and that does not help the market to be healthy. We want a solid and stable growth, without hurry. We are here to stay"
Jeroen van Lions
Will that bet continue in the future?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - Of course because, even though we have some insurance banking in Bulgaria for Life, we absolutely believe in the role of the broker.
Do you prefer a broker profile?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - Nothing in terms of size. We believe in brokers who inform the customer well and make sure they buy what they need.
Why differential qualities does EUROINS want to be recognized?
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - We will have to see it over time and in practice. In 3 years we will be able to answer this question more precisely because customers will have already told us what they value about us and what our strengths are. In any case, we want to add value to the client and the broker. Also, we are very flexible because we are not very big; we can react quickly if something needs to be changed. And, in addition, we pay claims quickly.
This is something that customers and brokers value very much ...
JEROEN VAN LEEUWEN. - Definitely. The only way to establish ourselves in the market in a couple of years as a trusted actor for brokers and clients is for us to demonstrate during that time that we pay our claims on time.
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