Discover what Nathalie Erdmanis, Director Sustainability and Branding AG Insurance, has to say about being Best Insurances Brand and how to adapt communication in a state of global pandemic.
How are you going to maintain this first position in 2021?
Nathalie Erdmanis: By being loyal to our values of authenticity, transparency, and professionalism: continuing to be the supporters of people’s lives (of our clients, of our channel partners as well as Belgian society in general) and by giving them the means to live their life fully in total serenity.
Have consumer’s expectations changed since last year? If so, can you tell us how AG is adapting to these new expectations?
Nathalie: The global pandemic has effectively changed people’s perception with regard to health, life, relationships with others… so as an insurer, as a supporter of people’s lives, it was important to be by their side, to listen to them, in the most empathic way in the face of a general climate of anxiety. As a brand, we had to adapt our way of communicating: it would have been inappropriate to adopt an optimistic tone or to be overly positive, when most of us were going through a difficult period in lockdown. This is how we launched the initiative and the platform ‘allagainstloneliness.be’, supported by a communication campaign, to raise awareness among people to help those suffering from loneliness in their environment.
This fits in with our history of social action, in which we have been fighting against social exclusion for more than 20 years by supporting a large number of associations. We also contribute to trying to revive the small retailers’ economy by offering vouchers to our clients, and we have supported the research for a vaccine against COVID-19 at KU Leuven, to name but a few initiatives.
How do you respond to the increased demand for digital services from your 5,000 brokers?
Nathalie: We have developed our digital media to respond better to the demand for ease of use (for example, filming your claim via your phone and showing it live to the adjuster/broker, who can immediately produce an expert report, which speeds up the compensation process). Even more than the increased need for digitalisation, we want to be a ‘phygital’ company and even a ‘phygital’ economic actor: we want to obtain the best of both worlds, to be accessible digitally for certain key moments in the customer experience,but we know that for more complex, less obvious cases,
the human contribution of the distribution partner remains essential in order to provide our customers with the best possible support during the ordeal of making a claim (which can be very emotional: a fire in the house, a car theft, the loss of a loved one,…). Feeling supported by an expert, a human being who can understand distress and be empathic to the situation being experienced, is a key element.
In your opinion, what criteria should an insurance company use in order to appeal to the younger generation?
Nathalie: Speak their language, answer their needs, be present on their favourite channels of communication (more digital): so that they can live their life to the max, without fear and in complete peace of mind, because they are well insured. We must also try to be attractive to them as an employer: offer them a good salary package, a good balance between private and professional life… And we must also show (and prove it with actions) that we are a company that plays an active role in Belgian society, by its investments, its social and environmental choices. Working for a responsible and sustainable company, we know how attentive the younger generation is to this aspect. And that is understandable..
“It would have been inappropriate to adopt an optimistic tone, when most of us were going through a difficult period in lockdown.”
Are prevention and sustainability linked?
Nathalie: Of course! We work a lot on prevention, it is also our role in order to avoid disasters. Whether it is by promoting/incentivising a healthy lifestyle (Move by AG) or by raising awareness of actions that can prevent fires, theft, etc.
The perception of the insurance sector is often negative, as it is seen as a necessary evil. Yet, without insurance, there is no good pension, for example. How does AG diversify its products to be even more ethical?
Nathalie: It is true that the sector suffers from a poor image. However, the very principle of insurance concerns the mutualisation of risk, so that each of us, whatever our means, has the capacity to continue to live with the same standard of living after a disaster, whether material (your house went up in flames, the roof flew off, your car suffered a total loss), or personal, because we often forget that it is even more important to be well insured as a person (health insurance, life insurance, pension insurance, etc.) to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
With regard to pensions: it has been known for some time that the State no longer has the money to provide for future pensions.
AG, which provides one in three supplementary pension plans in Belgium, is in a way replacing the role of the State. Through good governance and long-term investments, AG ensures that you will receive a supplementary pension at retirement age. And this is important for future generations: we cannot sacrifice future generations by not giving them any perspective on their well-being and future.
Be more ethical? The question should not be asked. For almost 200 years, ethics have been part of our DNA and we are closely monitored by various bodies (internal and external, such as the FSMA) to ensure that this is so.
In the spring of 2020, you launched a campaign #AllAgainstLoneliness. Can you tell us about actions that AG has supported in a concrete form or still supports?
Nathalie: I encourage you to go and look at the platform we have launched: ‘allagainstloneliness.be’ or ‘allentegeneenzaamheid.be’. The feeling of loneliness affects nearly one Belgian in two! And this does not only concern the elderly, as one might think, but also the younger generations… and more than a year of the COVID-19 crisis has only aggravated this, since we all live in lockdown, without social contacts with our loved ones or colleagues… So we launched a platform that brings together various associations that work daily to combat this feeling of loneliness, on which we give everyone ideas to ‘act’. We have communicated on this theme via a media campaign in order to raise awareness among as many people as possible. In this way, we are trying to contribute to a more cohesive society, to a ‘better life’ together, by doing our bit.