Costas Costa is GIC's General Manager. The original interview appeared in the January 2020 issue of INBusiness magazine, in the greek language.
What’s the status of the insurance sector today?
The general insurance sector continually reflects the economic course and social progress within the country. Its development always depends on economic development and the business activities which it supports as an important pillar of risk management. According to data from the Insurance Association of Cyprus (IAC), the sector recorded an increase of 8,54% in total Premiums for the period January – September 2019 compared to the same period the previous year. This increase exceeds the GDP growth rate for the same period (+3.0%), a fact which demonstrates the strength of the industry.
The goal of the insurance industry is to instil insurance consciousness among individuals and businesses. In this context, it is particularly encouraging and positive to note that, according to IAC data, an increase was recorded across all the main insurance sectors during 2019.
In your opinion, which sectors of the economywill grow over the next decade?
Economic growth in Cyprus has been quite volatile until now, with periods of high growth followed by periods of lower growth. The contraction between the years 2012 – 2014 led to a significant acceleration in the rate of growth during the period 2015 - 2018. Historically, the lead sectors have changed in every growth cycle, from manufacturing in the 1980s, to tourism in the 1990s, to construction in the 2000s.
Growth in the most recent period of 2015 - 2018 came from the traditional sectors of manufacturing, construction, trade and tourism which are more labour-intensive and therefore prospects for future growth are limited by changing demographics.
The decline in the rate of population growth as forecast by the European Statistical Office (Eurostat) will limit the potential for both growth in the labour force and development prospects.
Increased productivity will consequently play a more important role in the development process in the future. Therefore, economic growth in Cyprus should be based more on areas of higher added value, such as financial and insurance services, IT and communications, professional services, education and health services.
What will be the major trends in your area of activity over the next decade? (what’s changing, opportunities for growth, challenges)
Developing insurance consciousness and the emergence of insurance as an important supporting pillar of the economy remain the main challenges for the sector - especially in this era, as the costs incurred by extreme natural phenomena are enormous and constantly increasing. Floods, catastrophic storms and fires are global phenomena which threaten life generally, and the lives of the citizens in our own small country. The financial cost of such phenomena was calculated in 2018 at hundreds of billions of euro, of which one half was compensated for by insurance companies.
Payments from the insurance sector have helped boost the economy and business after disasters, contributing to as smooth a return as possible to normal operations.
What are the goals of your company over the next ten years?
General Insurance of Cyprus has played a key role in the development of the insurance sector for 68 years. Since its foundation in 1951, as the first insurance company in Cyprus, it has provided a top-quality, fast service to its customers via a comprehensive range of products, efficient claims settlement, and up-to-date ways of promoting its products, taking full advantage of developments in technology. With a prudent and serious corporate culture and management, General Insurance of Cyprus is distinguished by its reliability and the professionalism of its experienced and well-trained staff.
An important objective of General Insurance of Cyprus is to further exploit new technologies and the Internet to respond to new market conditions and changing customer needs and requirements.
In addition, the Company’s wider goals are as follows:
- Focus on customer service through a customer-centric approach and the constant improvement in the range and quality of its services.
- The modernisation and development of all promotion and service channels for insurance products.
- The digital transformation of the Company and the adoption of innovative practices with multiple benefits for customers, associates and staff.
- Continuous investment in staff via ongoing training, guidance and motivation.
- Reduction of costs by simplifying and automating procedures and increasing efficiency in company operations.
Each year, “World Finance” magazine awards two insurance companies from every country in the world as the best in each insurance industry sector (Life and Non-Life).
General Insurance of Cyprus was awarded as the best Non-Life insurance company in Cyprus. This recognition is a crowning achievement of GIC’s continued customer-centric efforts by providing fast and efficient claims settlement, innovative insurance products, and a high level of technology.
General Insurance of Cyprus is distinguished for their reliability, trust and integrity as well as for the professionalism of an experienced, and well-trained staff. It is a company with 68 years of presence in the insurance industry, with a prudent corporate culture and management.
In addition to this distinction, General Insurance of Cyprus’ Legal Department has been distinguished by “The Legal 500” as one of the best in Greece and Cyprus in all aspects of economic activity (not only in the insurance industry). The Legal 500 investigates and recognizes businesses’ in-house legal departments, all over the world.
At the same time, an independent research by StockWatch/RAI has recognized General Insurance of Cyprus the most reliable insurance company (in the general sector).
Evros Kyriakides is GIC's Technical Manager. The original interview appeared in the Sep'19 issue of Capital Today magazine, in the greek language.
What are the challenges you face as an insurance company?
A major challenge, and also one of the most important goals of General Insurance of Cyprus, is to provide products, services and a level of customer service which meet the needs and demands of the market and society today. An important current trend is the use of the internet which, apart from being a way of finding out about, evaluating and buying products and services, is also a major means of communication, interaction and socialising. General Insurance of Cyprus is the insurance company which paved the way for digital reform in the Cypriot market after it first launched the sale of insurance policies online. Via the website www.gic.com.cy, the user can find out about product features and price, purchase motor, home, travel, driver and hunter insurance and receive their insurance policy via email within minutes.
In addition to taking full advantage of the internet, General Insurance of Cyprus is investing in new technologies and in digitally transforming the Company’s operations to the benefit of its customers, its associates and its staff.
The broader goals/challenges of the company are:
- Focusing on customer service via a customer centric approach and developing all channels, new and existing, for the promotion and sale of insurance policies.
- Promoting and adopting innovative practices spanning the entire spectrum of the Company’s operations and continuous investment in human resource through training, guidance and motivation.
- Maintaining a balanced portfolio offering both enriched and flexible products and keeping costs down by improving operating efficiency.
What moves have you made in the digital age?
A significant innovation we’ve announced is the mobile phone app Drive Safe – the ground-breaking telematics application which records driving behaviour, helping drivers to improve and drive more safely and in a more environmentally-friendly way, saving on costs and fuel.
Using the mobile phone’s sensors and location service, Drive Safe recognises the beginning and end of every trip and rate the user’s driving behaviour. The score for each trip and the driver’s total score is calculated using Drive Safe’s advanced grading algorithm. Drive Safe provides the driver with full and detailed feedback on their driving behaviour for every journey, noting all the points at which the driving was not ideal. Via the app, distraction of the driver’s attention can be measured; one of the most significant causes of road traffic accidents today. The driver can monitor his or her driving behaviour over time and how it compares with that of other drivers.
Drive Safe rewards good drivers who will soon get a discount on the renewal of their insurance policy, according to their rating, as well as reward points, Safe Miles, which can be redeemed at our selected partners.
Drive Safe is one of the first steps in the Digital Transformation strategy of General Insurance of Cyprus which is in full swing. Many more developments are at the planning stage, moving towards implementation, and will be announced soon. Our goal is to continue to be pioneers in adopting and integrating new technologies, tools and processes which will offer our customers - and our prospective customers - a constantly upgraded digital experience.
Dr. Evangelos Monochristou is Digital Business Services Manager (Insurance Business) at Bank of Cyprus Group. The original interview appeared in the Jul'19 issue of IN Business magazine, in the greek language.
Tell us your opinion on Digital Transformation within the insurance industry.
It is widely accepted that the entire financial services sector is digitally transforming at a global level. The transformation is not just about creating a digital customer experience. To a greater degree, it’s about the automation/digitalization of companies’ internal procedures aimed at providing a faster and of a better-quality service, improving productivity and the decision-making process.
As reported in the McKinsey & Company Survey (May 2018), entitled Insurance 2030, the insurance industry is moving away from the existing model of “detect and repair" to that of “predict and prevent," necessitating transformation in every aspect of its current way of working. The pace of change will increase more and more as the various stakeholders become familiar with the use of advanced technologies.
What challenges have arisen or will arise in the digital transformation of the insurance industry?
First, we must not overlook the fact that the insurance industry is governed by a strict regulatory and supervisory framework, which can, occasionally, slow the speed of transformation. That is not to say this always has a negative effect - but it does cause some difficulty and delays in adopting technologies and innovations.
At the same time, the insurance industry consists, in the main, of large somewhat bureaucratic organisations, most of which have been operating for many decades. This, combined with the strict framework, means that digital transformation is always much more difficult and time-consuming in companies operating the traditional way, in contrast with new companies starting out now, and where their entire business model is digital. This is why purely digital insurance companies have emerged lately. However, although they seem to adopt the correct technological model, they either fail or face significant profitability problems. It seems that the adoption of technology on its own is not enough, as on the one hand the integration of many years of experience and knowledge in the field of insurance is not an easy task, and on the other, building credibility amongst customers takes time.
Finally, although customers expect digital services and the simplification/speeding up of processes, they also in many cases seek for a more personal relationship with their insurance company.
How does digital transformation help promote insurance products to millennials and generation Z?
Digital transformation allows insurance companies to offer, amongst other things, flexible and personalised products and services in a simple and quick way by using channels of communication which appeal to these Generations. Using innovative applications or even gamification also allows a completely different approach towards the younger generations.
A typical example from General Insurance of Cyprus is the mobile app "Drive Safe” which uses the sensors and location service of the mobile phone to recognise the start and end of each trip and score the user’s driving behaviour. The app helps drivers get even better on the road, and to drive in a more environmentally-friendly way.
Drive Safe app is one of the first steps in the Digital Transformation Strategy of General Insurance of Cyprus which is in full swing. Many more developments will be announced soon. Our goal is to continue to be pioneers in the adoption and integration of new technologies, tools and processes which will offer to our customers – and to our prospective customers – a constantly upgraded digital experience.
For over 30 years, The Legal 500 studies and analyzes the capabilities of law firms around the world, and its publications are a reference point for those looking for the best law firms. The General Counsel Powerlist of Cyprus and Greece 2019, the most recent edition of The Legal 500, focuses on and evaluates legal departments within companies, recognizing the distinguished lawyers and legal teams. GC Powerlist for Greece and Cyprus highlights those legal divisions with the greatest prestige, influence and innovation in the field.
The Legal 500 evaluated legal departments across Greece and Cyprus to identify those that have contributed to changing or shaping policy and exercising leadership in their company or industry by developing technical solutions to complex issues and by creating innovative structures to lead the business in the future. The experienced team of researchers at The Legal 500 distinguished the General Insurance of Cyprus Legal Department as one of the best in Greece and Cyprus, across the range of economic activity (not only in the insurance industry).
This distinction is yet another reward for the professionalism, prestige and high-level of training and service that GIC’s Legal Department provides and for which the Company is distinguished.
With regards to the recent announcement from Bank of Cyprus concerning the termination of American Express cards, in order to keep your Policy in-force, and bearing in mind that the above Policy is paid via American Express, you must inform us about a your new chosen payment method for your Premium. You may settle the Premium for the above Policy either via:
1. Another debit/credit card (by filling out Form 1), or
2. Sepa Direct Debit (by filling out Form 2).
Note that if you are not the cardholder/bank account owner of the card/account to be debited, the relevant order (Form 1 or 2) must be signed by the cardholder/bank account owner.
Please be assured that the above change in Premium payment method will not affect any discounts you are entitled to – these will continue to apply. Please forward your instructions regarding your preferred Premium payment method as soon as possible, by submitting the relevant Form either by post, at any of our branches, to your insurance intermediary directly, or by E-mail to email@example.com
For any clarifications, call us on 8000.87.87 or contact your insurance intermediary.
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