Last week we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Ageas brand. Following the sale of our banking activities, we renamed "Fortis" as "Ageas" in 2010. This name explicitly refers to our Belgian company "AG" and our insurance activities in Europe and Asia. An anniversary is an ideal opportunity to look back at some important milestones of the past decade. But what’s even more important for us is to look ahead. What shifts do we expect to see in our sector over the next ten years? And the question on everyone's lips today: what will the impact of COVID-19 be?
Opinions are divided on what our lives will be like after the Corona crisis. What is certain is that no one can predict the future. No one knows with absolute certainty which changes in consumer behaviour we are seeing in the midst of the crisis are permanent, and which are only temporary. It is reasonable to assume that the trends accelerated by the Corona crisis will not quickly disappear. This is illustrated by some examples that also have an impact on the insurance sector.
For instance, in the midst of a crisis, consumers no longer want any fuss and are looking for the best service without any worries. It has become the norm to order in just a few clicks, to have goods delivered tomorrow, and if the purchase is not satisfactory to return it free of charge. Companies that have built a customer experience on efficiency, personalisation and smooth and transparent communication are tomorrow's winners. Insurers, too, have to constantly look for ways to optimise the experience of their customers throughout the value chain. It's hard to tell how far they will need to take this and this will depend on the expectation of clients. Often there is a need for a detailed risk analysis and clear explanation on the coverage span. Working on a smooth pay-out after property damage is of course important, but a quick and good repair of the damage is even better. In this context, AG recently launched the 'So Simply' services.
Another example are the problems associated with ageing that are even more apparent during the Corona crisis. Today we all have to stay home. Elderly people who already had fewer social contacts face becoming even more isolated as a result. Also, during this Corona crisis, it is becoming even clearer that providing quality care for all elderly people is not something to be taken for granted. Insurers have a role to play in this problem. As well as savings and pension products that help pensioners maintain their financial clout, there is also an opportunity for services that directly improve their quality of life. We recently launched "Phil at Home" in Belgium, a service that offers elderly people the necessary support such as a 24/7 care centre and giving access to a personal coordinator who organises and follows up all kinds of chores. This service means that elderly people have the opportunity to stay in their own homes longer and are not forced to go to a nursing home prematurely.
The Corona crisis has once again underscored the increasing interest in wellbeing. How do you stay fit when your freedom of movement is restricted? How do you avoid a mental dip when social contacts can no longer be taken for granted? During this crisis, many companies are organising online webinars with health experts or even virtual yoga sessions for their employees and customers. Insurers can also contribute to mental and physical health. In line with products such as the group insurance offered by employers to their employees, insurers together with specialised partners can also develop services that directly support the "wellbeing" of employees, such as providing guidance for employees with burnout. Our Belgian company AG is responding to this with the recently launched AG Health Partner concept.
A look at 2030 and innovative strength
Nobody knows what the future holds. No one can say with 100% certainty whether we will return to the "old normal" or a "new normal" after the Corona crisis. Always looking ahead and identifying trends with potential impact is the only option. But which trends are permanent and which are only temporary? At Ageas, we created a “Think2030" think tank two years ago that focuses on looking ten years ahead. Ten years is long enough to allow scientific and technological progress to mature to the point where they effectively change our lives, but at the same time sufficiently urgent to take the necessary action steps today. In our trend analysis we enrich the knowledge of experts with research through artificial intelligence. This allows us to include a large amount of data in our analyses.
However, mapping out trends alone is far from being enough. It is important that a company also has the necessary innovative strength. The ability to test, implement and scale up new services and processes. In the field of product innovation, we focus not only on traditional insurance activities, but also on prevention and assistance. We are also looking at new types of partnerships outside our industry. In time, these may grow into complete ecosystems around the client.
As it has done in the past ten years, Ageas will continue to look to the future. Only in this way, by continuously adapting to changing circumstances, will we remain relevant to all our stakeholders, today and in the future.
Look back at some important milestones of the past decade