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"People do not value their life very much. We need to change their attitude towards old age"

"People in Russia are completely unfamiliar with life insurance as a product, and we need to make much more effort than in the West to promote the product", said Managing Director of Fortis Life Insurance (Russia) Erhard Jörkhel in an interview with expert.ru.
"People do not value their life very much. We need to change their attitude towards old age"

"I had a conversation with a Russian colleague who said: "Erhard, if I get insured, it will almost be like challenging God: he cannot do anything to me because I have a policy. But if I buy insurance and nothing happens, I will feel as I have wasted my money. Then the question arises: why should I be insured?" This is the main problem: people need to change their attitude towards old age. Now they do not value their life very much and, accordingly, do not understand why to insure it. We need not only to advertise, but also educate our potential clients", said Erhard Jörkhel.

The expert is sure that sooner or later in Russia the life insurance will be supported by the state on a more serious scale. "In the West, the fees for this type of insurance make up huge money that the economy can use", he explains. "We only need to invest competently in the collected premiums, because in 15-20 years we will have to pay our obligations".

As for the benefits of life insurance for the citizens, Erhard Jörkhel gave the following arguments: "It is possible to save and invest money, but only insurance will provide the future. If I put money into stocks, I will have 20-30% per annum, but I may also lose everything. The pension will remain with you even in case of the most negative scenario ... What is better: risky investments with a chance to earn 10-15%, or even a chance to completely lose them or absolutely safe 7% of income, which in the long term will cover the level of inflation? Besides, savings can be made in rubles and foreign currency, and this can reduce inflation risks. ... You can buy an apartment, but your money will no longer work. The house or apartment is very good, but they are an illiquid asset. Today it is profitable, but in 20-30 years, when your children are adults, perhaps they will not want to sell it, or, conversely, have to sell, then you need to decide who owns the apartment, and who, for example, money, while life insurance preserves the standard of life itself in old age, whatever happens".

Mr. Jörkhel also believes pension plans have a great future: for example, no one knew about voluntary medical insurance ten years ago, and now almost every company offers it. "The same will be with retirement plans", he predicts. "This market is not as dynamic as the direct retail sales market, but on the other hand, it is more stable. Retail sales are a riskier product, besides, it has a feature: it either does not work at all, or develops intensively".

According to Erhard Jörkhel, the demand for life insurance will grow every year. "Five years ago, people had money for food, clothing, and travel, today they can buy a car or an apartment and, moreover, they can spend part of their income on insurance", he says. "Besides, the middle class are having more children. They are interested in products for themselves and their children and will buy policies. In Russia, many people think it will be even better, but if the situation in the country as a whole is favorable, this does not mean that it will always be so or your specific situation will not change".

To communicate the importance of life insurance, the company, according to Erhard Jörkhel, decided not to use television. "It's expensive and inefficient: too little time is given to explain the essence of the product", he says. "We use press, outdoor advertising, the Internet, those media that allow us to communicate actively with customers. We also created a call-center, where people call and ask what we have to offer and why they need. Before we started working, we interviewed people, studied focus groups, and as a result, decided this strategy of product promotion to be optimal. Having analyzed calls of consumers in call- center, we can correct something, make our advertising more successful”.

The company also does not rely on agents. "I'm sure other players will enter the market", the expert explains. "As a result, tomorrow they will lure my team, offering a 5% higher salary. Our agents are actually a call center where qualified specialists work, they know the product specifics. We work with customers directly and have feedback. The person calls us and leaves his contacts, and we inform him about new programs or ask him what he thinks about this or that product.  It will produce results eventually".

Source: http://expert.ru/d-stroke/2007/04/yorhel/

Photos per websites: over50plan.uk.com, clements.com

 

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