How is the “Mobiliar” insurance company dealing with today’s dynamic market environment? In an interview, Markus Hongler and Patric Deflorin talk about what they feel are the critical issues.
Markus Hongler: In spite of a challenging market environment and low interest rates, Mobiliar is doing exceptionally well. Our solvency ratios are excellent. Consequently, our clients can rely on our strong financial stability and we have the freedom to pursue the right investments.
Patric Deflorin: The segment is in very good shape. We are, however, aware that traditional products provide us with little opportunity to stand out. We need to differentiate ourselves from the competition in our value proposition. We face the challenge of enhancing our products with additional services tailored to clients’ needs. We regularly ask ourselves: What will life be like tomorrow? And how will that impact our mobility and the way we live together?
Markus Hongler: We have been very successful with our existing business. We want to develop it and digitize and simplify our processes. Our goal is to do the things we already do well even better and thus acquire new clients and portfolios. On top of that, we are looking for additional expertise. For example, we have acquired an interest in Scout24 and purchased SwissCaution. Both of these companies have revolutionized their respective markets and are fully digital. They already operate profitably on their own and will supplement our insurance business.
Patric Deflorin: We are, for the benefit of our clients, embracing the opportunities that digitalization and other businesses provide. We are ready to make the investments needed to expand our business areas. We are a Swiss company and have no ambitions to move outside the Swiss market. This has many advantages, but also means that we have to position ourselves broadly in order to grow.
Markus Hongler: That is an essential prerequisite. I spend a lot of time fostering our company’s close to 5,000 employees’ enthusiasm for their work and empowering them to create unique client experiences. I want them to be curious and to join me in the joy of shaping new developments.
Patric Deflorin: We encourage entrepreneurial thinking. Our 79 general agencies are independent contractors and share responsibility for our joint success. This spirit is influencing Mobiliar as a whole.
Markus Hongler: Personal and digital interactions are not mutually exclusive. Even in the digital world, we want to remain Switzerland’s most personal insurance company. In the case of a claim, our experts are on hand to provide personal assistance. Digitalization helps us to react quickly and efficiently.
Markus Hongler: We operate exclusively in Switzerland and, after some 190 years, have strong roots here. We know the market and the Swiss clients like no other company in the business. We take full advantage of this competitive edge. This is supplemented by a clear strategy that is based on stability, transparency, reliability and highly motivated employees. Our decentralized organizational structure also gives us a competitive edge since it allows us to be close to the market and act quickly. We like to feel the pulse of the market directly and handle in line with the clients’ expectations.
Patric Deflorin: One strategically important topic is cybercrime. It is not just a matter of tangible loss, which can be remedied through a sum of money, but also intangible consequential loss. Such crimes may impact the personal integrity of individuals. In the case of companies, interruptions to operations can jeopardize their survival or tarnish their image. At the current time, we are working hard on developing appropriate indemnification models.
Markus Hongler: We use state-of-the-art technology. We maintain a separate IT security department and have a clearly defined strategy in place for dealing with such threats. Access to sensitive information and files is restricted to those employees who require such access for their work. So far, we have not been hit by a cyberattack. However, there is no such thing as absolute security.
Patric Deflorin: For example, thanks to our new app, we have been able to make the processing of claims much simpler and faster. Our clients can now notify their claims in less than 90 seconds – that is a record! And thanks to the streamlined processes taking place behind the scenes, we provide an immediate response. Depending on the case, the final settlement of a claim may take some time. Clients expect to know the current stage of the adjustment process that their claim has reached. We believe that interaction with clients in real time is essential.
Patric Deflorin: Accidents and health constitute about 15 percent of Mobiliar’s portfolio. We service our clients with a specially trained case management team, which handles personal injuries. The aim is to support individuals affected and to help them return to work.
Markus Hongler: Moreover, we also process recourse actions centrally, i.e. recovery claims against the persons responsible for the accident. Our subsidiary XpertCenter Ltd. is in charge of this service. It has a team of 13 professionals who are familiar with this particular subject matter. We also offer recourse management as a service to other companies.
Markus Hongler: We can deal with regulations and lose no sleep over them. However, it is important to clearly distinguish between the regulatory authorities and politics. What is still missing in Switzerland is a consensus on how we should model our financial center for the future. For example, how are we going to create a competitive advantage that benefits all market players or at least does not penalize Swiss market players in the international contest? It is also up to the regulatory authorities to outline potential options and to play an active part in shaping them in a dialogue with all market players. Then it is up to the politicians to arrange for the necessary democratic legitimation.
Markus Hongler: FINMA shouldn’t make economic policy. I’m sure that we can continue our dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and as a partnership of equals.
Patric Deflorin: The new working environment is designed to be open. There are no more separate offices. Different departments work alongside and with one another. This promotes communication and interdisciplinary collaboration. We also support working from home. Thanks to digitalization, everyone can work from where they happen to be: at home, in the train or at the office.
Markus Hongler: As a traditional company, it does require a little courage on our part to be the initiators of this new working environment. But why should we let the start-ups steal the show in this respect? Our open-plan offices create new freedoms and a new working culture, which strengthens our productivity and innovative power. I think it is important that we do our work with joy and enthusiasm.
Patric Deflorin: We also apply an organic approach to human resources. On the one hand, we employ more trainees than many other companies. On the other hand, we reach out to and develop career changers. When we require specialist knowledge, we approach the appropriate professionals directly. With Bern as our hub and branches in Nyon and Zurich, we can also offer certain locational advantages. However, what really matters is that we work day in, day out to be an inspiring and attractive employer. Talented people should come to us on their own initiative because we are an exciting and innovative company.
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