- Despite COVID-19, the first three quarters of 2020 outperformed expectations by a wide margin. Premiums and the strong EBT of € 214 million were flat, the technical result doubled, and the combined ratio remained a healthy 95.9%
- € 210 million in one-time charges in the 4th quarter: reorganisation provision of € 110 million (elimination of 600 jobs in Austria, closure of one third of locations in Austria) and goodwill write-downs of € 100 million in CEE
- 2020 as jumping-off point for new long-term UNIQA 3.0 strategy programme (2021-2025): profound customer focus in the two core markets of Austria and CEE, unwaveringly high investments in IT, data and digitalisation, expansion into Germany with new Cherrisk digital subsidiary, establishment of new Sanux subsidiary for health ecosystem
- Sustainability strategy: € 1 billion in sustainable investments by 2025
- AXA integration on schedule
UNIQA 2.0 strategy programme (2011-2020) successfully completed
This year, UNIQA will successfully complete the UNIQA 2.0 strategy programme that launched in 2011: over the past 9 years, UNIQA has doubled client numbers from 7.5 to 15 million, divested itself of non-core businesses, dramatically improved its profitability in the two core markets of Austria and CEE, launched a long-term IT and digitalisation investment programme, significantly strengthened the equity base, achieved a Europe-leading solvency ratio of 215% and increased the dividend per share seven times in a row.
First three quarters of 2020 have gone well despite COVID-19
With premiums written of € 4,091.2 million and earnings before taxes nearly unchanged from 2019 at € 214 million, UNIQA has successfully closed out the first three quarters of 2020 amid the COVID-19 crisis. After recording a negative EBT in the first quarter and much-improved earnings in the second, the Group generated a highly satisfactory EBT of € 159 million in just the three months from July to September.
UNIQA’s core underwriting business continued to perform strongly, doubling to € 124.9 million in the first three quarters. This includes extraordinary expenses of around € 70 million in additional insurance benefits for event cancellations and business interruptions related to COVID-19. The combined ratio remained steady at 95.9%.
Annual profit outlook for 2020 – one-time charges of € 210 million
UNIQA recognised a one-time reorganisation provision of € 110 million to account for the elimination of 600 jobs in Austria and the closure of around one third of all locations in Austria. This will reduce the annual profit for 2020. At the same time, the revaluation of all business plans resulted in goodwill impairments of around € 100 million in Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia that will also lower the annual profit for 2020. Given the volatility of economic conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not currently possible to provide a detailed forecast of the annual profit for 2020.
These one-time reorganisation charges mark the beginning of the “UNIQA 3.0 – Seeding The Future” strategy programme that will run from 2021 to 2025. Backed by an exhaustive programme for cutting costs in Austria and further stabilizing the profits from core business, UNIQA is aligning itself to be radically customer-focused, still investing heavily in digitalization, IT and data, pushing ahead with more equity investments in fintech and insurtech firms through the UNIQA Ventures subsidiary, expanding into Germany through the digital Cherrisk insurance company (www.cherrisk.com) and establishing a new SanusX subsidiary for the health ecosystem (www.sanusx.com).
UNIQA 3.0 – Seeding The Future (2021-2025) – answers to tomorrow’s megatrends
Society faces enormous challenges. Not only are interest rates relentlessly low, but the COVID-19 pandemic will produce one of the largest crises in the real economy. Homes and retirement plans are growing more expensive, while wealth is distributed more and more unequally. People in Europe are growing older and older and have fewer children. Digitalisation is opening up opportunities for innovation as well as violent shifts in society and industry. Resources are growing scarcer. Climate change and natural disasters are confronting the world with huge agricultural challenges and affecting human health.
The UNIQA 3.0 – Seeding The Future growth programme is a positive response to the challenges arising along these megatrends. Our overriding vision is to improve our customers’ health and prosperity instead of merely avoiding or reducing the impacts of disease, damage and loss.
The strategic pillars of UNIQA 3.0
Core markets remain Austria and CEE
The two core geographic markets remain Austria and CEE, where the focus is on Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. While CEE currently accounts for 65% of all customers, 30% of the premiums and 25% of the income, once the AXA companies are integrated, it will represent 75% of the customers, who will generate more than 40% of the premiums and over 50% of the income.
€ 500 million investment in IT, digitalisation and innovation starting to pay off
UNIQA launched the biggest innovation programme in the company’s history back in 2016 with an investment exceeding € 500 million.These investments focus on redesigning the business model, acquiring the requisite IT systems and digital innovations.
Digital expansion to Germany with Cherrisk
Based on its positive experiences in Hungary, UNIQA is expanding into Germany through Cherrisk, its digital second brand (cherrisk.com). The expansion may broaden into other countries in Western Europe.
As a digital-only sales platform, Cherrisk offers simple, pay-as-you-go travel, household and accident insurance policies. The Cherrisk Go app makes healthy living fun and easy by rewarding health-conscious behaviour and supporting charitable initiatives. It takes risk pooling “back to its roots”: customers can use the bonus points they earn – known as “cherries” – to benefit society through donations in addition to protecting their own assets and avoiding losses through risk-conscious conduct.
SanusX – rethinking health
SanusX (sanusx.com), a subsidiary established in April, is responsible for the Group’s evolution into a holistic health care company, one that handles more than insurance. SanusX has focused its first health care programmes outside of conventional insurance solutions on mental health, primary care and active ageing. Thanks to its experience as Austria’s leading health insurance carrier with a network of five hospitals (PremiQaMed) and more than 250 doctors and vital coaches, UNIQA already has extensive experience and expertise in the health care sector.
SanusX has already launched an initial product in response to rising COVID-19 case numbers: SanusX Health Shield offers corporate customers quick, simple and reliable COVID-19 testing at individual sites throughout Austria.
UNIQA Ventures – more innovations in the pipeline
Through UNIQA Ventures, its corporate incubator programme, UNIQA holds equity in 26 companies throughout Europe and has invested approx. € 40 million in fast-growing start-ups in the fintec, insurtech and digital health sectors. Its portfolio consists of financial investments that have already achieved value growth and, much more importantly, laid the groundwork for more business model innovations that will bring in new customers for UNIQA. Over 25,000 have been attracted so far.
COVID-19: a digitalisation accelerator
Another health service has been developed for customers, accelerated by COVID-19: UNIQA has enabled telehealth visits with doctors since the first lockdown began in March 2020. The entire consultation is conducted by video call on smartphones – from any location, without long waiting times or the need to schedule an appointment. The service is free for those 220,000 customers who have UNIQA health insurance and have signed up for the supplementary “acute care” package.
The development of the myUNIQA app was a particularly resounding digitalisation success. Today, over 40 percent of all health insurance bills are submitted through our app. Thanks to the app, reimbursements for doctor’s or pharmacist’s bills arrive in customers’ bank accounts in just a few days.
UNIQA is hiring another 100 people in order to tirelessly expand its digital services, drive digital investments in the future and maintain the in-house development expertise that UNIQA needs.
Sustainability strategy: € 1 billion in investments by 2025
UNIQA 3.0 also includes a sustainability strategy for investments. The insurance sector is the largest private investor in Europe, after all. UNIQA has been leveraging this market power, as an investor and insurer, to push resolutely for the coal business to be phased out. It has already invested around € 600 million in infrastructure, some € 200 million of which in energy transition projects that generate power from sunshine, wind, water or waste. In addition, UNIQA issued a green bond worth € 200 million in July of this year. By 2025, it plans to have put together a € 1 billion portfolio of sustainable investments.
Customer-focused Group reorganisation and € 100 million in cost cuts in Austria
The ambitious goals of the UNIQA 3.0 strategy are based on the Group reorganisation that started last year as well as a thorough cost retrenchment. T he merger of UNIQA Österreich Versicherungen AG and UNIQA International AG into a single company, and the resulting reduction in the number of board members, represented the first step toward a customer-centric organisational structure. Starting on 1 January of next year, all operational UNIQA insurance companies will also be organised by customer segment.
In addition to huge cuts in general and administrative expenses, the elimination of around 600 jobs in Austria over the next 24 months will permanently lower costs by more than € 100 million.
Growth strategy: return to constantly rising dividend path
UNIQA is launching the new strategy from a position of financial strength and has set measurable targets for continuing its growth trajectory. It aims for constant premium growth of three per cent a year along with a simultaneous considerable reduction in costs, which will bring the combined ratio below 95 per cent on a sustained basis. It intends to keep the solvency capital ratio consistently above 170 per cent. That will allow the Group to resume its path of a progressive - i.e. increasing annually - dividend distribution from the pre-COVID years starting in the 2021 financial year.
The UNIQA Group is one of the leading insurance groups for its core markets of Austria and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Around 21,300 employees and exclusive sales partners serve around 15.5 million customers in 18 countries. UNIQA is the second-largest insurance group in Austria with a market share of more than 21 per cent. UNIQA operates in 15 markets in the CEE growth region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. The UNIQA Group also includes insurance companies in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.