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simple. clear. helvetia.

The 2017 reporting year was highly successful for the Helvetia Group. The helvetia 20.20 strategy is bearing fruit. The centrepiece here is a new brand promise: simple – clear. CEO Philipp Gmür explains in an interview what it is all about.

7 April 2018, author: Claudia Sauter, photo: Daniel Ammann

Philipp Gmür
Philipp Gmür is convinced: “From today’s perspective, we will still be one of Switzerland’s leading all-lines insurers in 10 years’ time.”

“simple. clear. helvetia.” Are you living up to this promise?

Our promise to those on the outside is, above all, a challenge for us working on the inside: to do everything in our power to ensure our customers can access our services in as simple a manner as possible. For example, they can report claims directly via our website or conclude insurance policies directly online. We provide our customers with individual and personal support – via all channels, making life as simple as possible for the customer in question.

Younger target groups too?

Yes. We are continuously looking at new dialogue channels for Generations Y and Z. For example, the option to extend your contract or report bicycle thefts via text message.

What does your strategy mean specifically?

Our customers are mobile and want to have access to quick service at all times. We want to be present when and where our customers have insurance-related needs: at the point of sale of goods and services and when important events occur during their lives. Simplicity means that we are on hand to offer support at these decisive moments and can meet customer needs in an uncomplicated manner.

Nevertheless, customers are still being provided with complicated general terms and conditions of insurance and product brochures. Why is this?

Even we would not yet be able to introduce contracts without accompanying general terms and conditions of insurance. However, we translate the insurance world into the language of our customers and make it tangible and understandable. For example, customers should decide for themselves how they wish to be advised, conclude an insurance policy, change their cover or renew their contracts.

Why has Helvetia been successful for 160 years?

Helvetia combines tradition and innovation. We have succeeded time and again in grasping new opportunities without getting carried away in the process. Periods of expansion around the world have been followed by decades of focus on European markets. Today, we are one of the leading insurance companies in our home markets with promising positions in western Europe and in specialty business lines such as Active Reinsurance as well as transport, engineering and art insurance. The healthy diversification between the life and non-life businesses, between the retail and corporate customer businesses and between Switzerland and abroad makes us robust and provides impetus for further development.

So, you want to be one of the market champions? How do you plan to achieve this?

By always looking at things from the perspective of our customers. We are also specifically on the lookout for innovation opportunities, for example relating to the manner of customer access or the structure of our services. To do so, we need to become more agile. It represents a major challenge to remain flexible in a long-term business and be able to adjust to shortterm developments. The process of digitisation, in particular, is forcing us to scrutinise our business model on an ongoing basis and, where necessary, make changes.

Speaking of digital technologies: what role do they play in your business model?

Digitisation provides multi-layered opportunities: Firstly, thanks to digital technology, we are even closer to our customers and can reach them more quickly. In this respect, in particular, we can learn from insurtech companies and start-ups. They deviate from familiar patterns and transform fresh ideas into innovative business models. We are therefore participating in start-ups and are working to merge the “old” world with the “new” world. Secondly, digitisation is helping us to automate many processes even more quickly. And thirdly, it will ultimately enable us to link available data even more intelligently and thus allow us to gain important knowledge, for example relating to risk selection and pricing.

Where will Helvetia be in ten years?

From today’s perspective, we will still be one of Switzerland’s leading all-lines insurers in 10 years’ time. In the retail business, we have expanded our positions in our home market and in Europe thanks to multiple new customers. In the corporate customer business, we are benefiting from globalisation and our expertise in selected sectors, meaning that the Group remains robust and is well diversified.

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