In February top international representatives of the world of insurance gathered in Hamburg to discuss the challenges the industry faces as part of a symposium entitled “Run-off 2017 – What’s the outlook?” run by the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. The central theme of the conference was the life insurance business, which is currently under particular pressure. Old-age pensions are currently in the middle of a reform process, because the benefit level cannot keep pace with demographic change by means of the solutions applied thus far. As a result, private pension plans are becoming ever more important. At the same time, regulatory requirements are increasing, which also causes complexity and costs to rise. And ultimately the low interest rates are weighing heavily on yields. Hence many life insurance products become far less appealing for both provider and customer.
Yet one important argument remains: there is a great need for security and thus for guaranteed payments. “Customers want long-term guarantees. That’s something only we insurers can offer them. This way, we differentiate ourselves from the banks when it comes to occupational benefit schemes”, explains Philipp Gmür. The CEO of the Helvetia Group gave a presentation in Hamburg about how the internationally active company is getting to grips with difficult framework conditions thanks to innovations. The Swiss insurance provider aims to focus increasingly on new life insurance models that can be adapted more flexibly to personal requirements and at the same time include modern guarantee concepts. Market-dynamic life insurance policies also offer the possibility – unlike the classic products – of participating directly in the developments of the financial markets.
Classic life insurance products will remain part of the offering as before, but here too, the guarantee concepts will be adapted to the market environment. “Helvetia will continue to position itself as a complete provider in the life business, but our focus will be firmly directed towards the modern products”, said Gmür. He also indicated that Helvetia is developing new concepts for businesses in the area of occupational benefit schemes too. Life insurance remains strategically important for Helvetia. After all, of the total premium volumes, more than half came from the life business, totalling around 4.5 billion francs in the financial year 2015.