Press releases :: Vienna Insurance Group

Between the birth of the expansion of what was then Wiener Städtische Versicherungsgruppe (now Vienna Insurance Group) on October 30, 1990 and October 30, 2020, there are 30 years of gradual expansion into an international insurance group with a focus on the CEE region. Today the Vienna Insurance Group operates in 30 countries with around 50 insurance companies and looks after more than 22 million customers. The premium volume has increased more than tenfold since the start of expansion to over 10 billion euros.

The East as a new opportunity
Around a year after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the VIG Group was one of the first insurance companies in Western Europe to move into the insurance markets of Central and Eastern Europe. On October 30, 1990, the then Wiener Städtische Versicherung decided to participate in the newly founded cooperative insurance company “Kooperative-Tschechoslowakische Versicherungs AG”. The total investment was 15.4 million schillings, the equivalent of a little more than one million euros. “By participating in what was then the Czechoslovak Republic, we were breaking new ground, taking a step into the unknown. Because nobody knew how the economic and democratic path of the communist-led countries would develop after the opening of the East, which is seen today as the greatest political-economic transformation process of the late 20th century. Right from the start we saw great opportunities and had confidence in this region and, with a strategically long-term perspective, turned it into an Austrian success story“Explains Dr. Günter Geyer, General Director of Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Vienna Insurance Group, who played a key role in the group’s expansion strategy.

30 years, 30 countries
Today, 30 years later, the Vienna Insurance Group is active in 30 countries. With a market share of around 18%, it is the leading insurance group in Central and Eastern Europe, where more than half of its profit and premiums are now generated. In more than two thirds of its countries in this region, the VIG Group is the market leader or in the top 5. “We also take advantage of opportunities in specific business areas in countries such as Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein or Northern Europe. However, our focus remains clearly on the CEE region with its high growth potential. Economic development is currently severely restricted in all regions of the world due to the pandemic. Based on current forecasts, however, we are cautiously optimistic that we can expect a recovery in economic activity between Austria and the CEE region as early as 2021 “, says Elisabeth Stadler, General Director of the Vienna Insurance Group.

High insurance potential
Due to its broad geographic base and its top position in Central and Eastern Europe, the Vienna Insurance Group assumes that it will continue to benefit from the ongoing catching-up process and great growth potential. Economic output, measured in terms of GDP, has almost quadrupled since the VIG Group entered the Slovakian market and almost tripled in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. “In Austria, around 2,000 euros per person are spent on insurance every year, in the EU-15 countries it is almost 3,000 euros. Per capita insurance expenditure in CEE is a tenth of that in Austria. We have a range from around 600 euros a year in the Czech Republic to around 40 euros a year in the Ukraine “, Elisabeth Stadler refers to the still high growth potential for insurance companies. The five largest markets for the VIG Group are Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and the Baltic States, where around 80% of the total premium volume is currently achieved. Before the expansion plans began at the end of 1989, the VIG Group’s premium volume was around one billion euros. At the end of 2019, the VIG Group was the first Austrian insurance group to exceed the 10 billion mark with a premium volume of 10.4 billion euros.

The uniqueness of diversity
Compared to international insurance groups, the VIG Group has two main distinguishing features: the local multi-brand strategy and local entrepreneurship. On the one hand, these shape the diversity of the group and, on the other, help spread the risk. Local decisions are made by the management on site, strategic considerations are implemented jointly in the VIG Group. The VIG Group sees a clear competitive advantage in its high diversity, which was also shown during the pandemic. “Our business model with its very broad diversity across countries, brands, sales channels and products has proven itself even in difficult phases. This enables us to continue to make the most of the opportunities that arise and to continue our long-term growth ambitions “, emphasizes Elisabeth Stadler.

Came to stay
The sustainable and long-term business orientation pursued by the VIG Group is also seen as a success factor in the 30-year expansion strategy. “It was not only important to have been one of the first in Central and Eastern Europe, but also right to have stayed there in times of crisis. We see long-term and sustainable planning as our basis, which has also applied to our markets in all the years of expansion. Therefore our motto is: We have come to stay. We see this long-term strategy as an essential factor for the stability in the development and as a basis of trust of the customers to have in us a reliable partner “, explains Elisabeth Stadler. This also makes it clear, for example, that the first brand outside of Austria, the “Kooperativa”, still exists in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Fit for the future
Maintaining or expanding the leading position in the CEE region is a clear goal for the coming years. In addition, numerous measures are taken to stay fit for the future. The digital transformation is a major focus, for which around 200 million have been invested in the Agenda 2020 management program since 2017. Euros were invested. Elisabeth Stadler: “A very important factor brought about by the pandemic is the acceleration of digitization and automation. This applies to Austria as well as to the CEE region. The digital transformation has been one of our major priorities for years and we can draw on the experience of our insurance companies in CEE in this area. As the most recent example of this, I refer to the digital car insurance platform ‘Beesafe’ in Poland. “

Expansion steps of the VIG group
1990 Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic
1996 Hungary
1998 Poland
1999 Liechtenstein, Croatia, Italy
2001 Romania
2002 Bulgaria, Belarus
2003 Serbia
2004 Slovenia, Ukraine
2005 Georgia
2007 Turkey, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia
2008 Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
2010 Montenegro
2011 Bosnia-Herzegovina
2014 Moldova
2018 France
2019 Norway, Sweden, Denmark

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