Partnership with Raiffeisen: attractive products, successful dual-brand strategy

In Austria last year, UNIQA generated almost a quarter of new premiums through banks. Klaus Pekarek, member of the Management Board of UNIQA Austria with responsibility for overseeing bank sales, sees the partnership with Raiffeisen as a clear win-win for everyone involved. With its innovative products and deliberate choice of a dual-brand strategy, UNIQA Austria is aiming to develop the significant potential this area of business presents.

“Win-win-win strategy”

“Customers who purchase a policy over the counter generate benefits in three different ways,” says Klaus Pekarek in answer to the question of what makes bank sales so attractive. They conveniently receive all services from a single provider, while the bank benefits from stronger, more sustainable customer loyalty, and for UNIQA Austria sales through banks presentan additional business opportunity. “That makes it a clear win-win-win strategy,” notes Pekarek.

“Benefits customers in three different ways”

In fact, bank sales offer tremendous potential for insurance companies, which in Austria have been confronted by a saturated market for quite some time. Pekarek: “Our goal is clear: have bank sales grow faster than the market as a whole. Thanks to our close partnership with Raiffeisen, we’re able to make that happen on a regular basis.” While the Austrian insurance market as a whole grew by an average of 1.3 per cent over the last five years, Raiffeisen Insurance Austria grew by 2.8 per cent. “Customer demand is particularly strong in private pension and risk prevention,” says Pekarek.

Attractive products ...

The ingredients of success are a collaborative partnership and attractive products. In the life insurance sector – the traditional focus of bank sales – the Raiffeisen Insurance brand has recently even proven to be a trendsetter. In view of a changed market environment brought about by low interest rates, classic life insurance has had to completely adapt to new circumstances. Pekarek: “We responded with a very innovative product. We created a classic life insurance, which – although it foregoes a traditional discount rate – offers a 100 per cent guarantee on paid net premiums as well as maximum flexibility. This is made possible by a fair and transparent compensation model that spreads the premium over the entire term.”

Klaus Pekarek (photo)

Klaus Pekarek, 60

Klaus Pekarek has been responsible for UNIQA Austria’s banking sales since 2016. Prior to that, he was the Chairman of the Management Board at Raiffeisen Versicherung. Before he switched to UNIQA, he held various positions within Raiffeisen Landesbank Kärnten, ultimately as Director-General. Klaus Pekarek studied law as well as social science and economics in Graz.

... under the Raiffeisen brand

The products in bank sales are marketed under the brand name “Raiffeisen Insurance”. Pekarek: “We have deliberately opted for a dual-brand strategy, because it accords with Raiffeisen’s philosophy of a sole-source provider with the original look-and-feel of the brand identity ‘Raiffeisen. My bank’.” The customer’s personal banker at his regional bank serves as his exclusive point of contact, while UNIQA Austria provides support in the background as product and service provider, furnishing policies for bank sales under the Raiffeisen Insurance brand. Pekarek: “The insurance policies may be produced by UNIQA Austria. But it’s like when someone buys a Fanta. They don’t really care that it’s actually produced by the Coca-Cola Company. What’s important is that the product is from a strong, well-known and trusted brand name. And for Raiffeisen customers, that’s Raiffeisen.”

Working together with pilot banks, we will conduct an evaluation of the nationwide sales launch of health insurance in 2018. Parallel to that, we are preparing to launch a new unit-linked life insurance next year as well. Moreover, we are working with sales partners to implement the joint omni-channel strategy and, as a consequence, on digitalisation of the bank sales business model. This involves fully integrating Raiffeisen insurance products into Raiffeisen Banking Group’s new digital banking system scheduled for 2018.

To make sure this “background activity” functions perfectly, UNIQA Austria significantly streamlined its own structures last year and merged Raiffeisen Insurance with UNIQA Austria. Pekarek: “We not only successfully optimised our products and services, we revamped internally as well.” The merger of the two companies creates significant synergies while retaining the greatest possible continuity for customers and sales partners.

1.3 million customers

At the end of 2016, bank sales accounted for about 1.3 million customers and 1.8 million contracts.

New products and online services

The newly emerging UNIQA Insurance Platform (UIP) will for the first time offer new unit-linked life insurance for bank sales. “In 2017 we will be completely revising unit-linked life insurance and specifically adapting it for bank sales,” says Pekarek.

Meanwhile, in bank sales we are also working on implementing an omni-channel strategy, “digital regional bank”, and, thus, moving ahead with the digitalisation of our business model. Pekarek: “Specifically, this involves the full integration of our insurance products into digital banking at the Raiffeisen Banking Group: in future, this will let Raiffeisen customers take out and manage their Raiffeisen insurance electronically via online banking.” Pekarek sums up: “We are constantly working to provide our mutual customers with the best at every level. Our partnership with Raiffeisen is the perfect synthesis.”