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Employee benefits insurance is the key solution for attracting and retaining qualified staff
Generali got the ball rolling in Vietnam by first opening its representative office in July, 2009, with an operating licence following in April, 2011. The Italian firm almost immediately reaped positive results after starting its Group Insurance Business in October, 2011 and the company’s tied agency for Individual Life Business in April, 2012. It has built up a product suite and quality customer service offerings to fulfill enterprises’ needs, headlined by the fact that renowned multinational as well as local companies have entrusted Generali Vietnam Life to take care of their 5,000 plus insured members and dependents.
Founded in 1831 in Trieste, Italy, Generali is the leading in Europe and within the top five insurers by worldwide gross premium income. With assets under management of 460 billion euros, 82,000 employees serving 65 million customers in more than 60 countries, Generali Group’s success is reflected in being ranked 33rd in Fortune Global 500 (2011). In Asia, Generali has presence in major markets including China, India, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. Asia represents a market of strategic importance to the Generali Group due to its strong economic growth rate and high household saving propensity. The launch of Generali Vietnam Life Insurance Company is part of the strategy for regional expansion of the Group into the emerging Asia.
The products make up for gaps in Vietnam’s social security net as the state’s healthcare programme can only meet part of demand due to limitations in the reimbursement of medical expenses. As a result, additional employee benefit programmes providing employees with better access to higher quality healthcare services and hospitals for faster recovery has been embraced by many firms. Moreover, employee benefit programmes can help share the burden of increased healthcare expenses in the state budget and for the whole of society.
The firm’s launch of its Group Business had a strategic focus on the development and provision of quality employee benefits products to multinational companies as well as local enterprises. With the Group Business, Generali Vietnam Life hopes to contribute to the enhancement of the professional and service standards in the market. To do this, it is determined to build an innovative product suite, with high-quality service offerings to employers, employees and their dependants, as well as a nationwide medical services provider network. To underscore the point, Generali Vietnam is the first life insurer in Vietnam approved by the Ministry of Finance to provide employee benefit programmes for employees and their dependents.
With the strong backup of Generali Employee Benefits (GEB – a member of Generali Group) - one of the world’s largest employee benefit providers with 1,500 corporate clients in more than 90 countries, Generali Vietnam Life is fully equipped to offer multinational companies access to multinational pooling which combines risk sharing and cost management possibilities on a worldwide basis to help generate significant savings. As for local enterprises yet to enjoy these meaningful benefits, Generali Vietnam has developed tailor-made solutions appropriate for enterprises’ specific insurance needs.
“With our experience and expertise in the market, Generali Vietnam is committed to bring in new and better choices to clients and new standards to the market,” said Simon Lam, general director of Generali Vietnam Life Insurance Company.
In addition to its existing products providing employees and their dependents with 24/7 worldwide coverage for death and disabilities, the company is continuing to look for new and innovative product development ideas to enhance product offerings to clients.
Riding on a quality-focused foundation
In terms of services, in addition to a service package that ensures fast, accurate, promise-honouring claims and a 24/7 hotline addressing not only claim-related customer enquiries but also providing medical advice by qualified medical doctors, Generali Vietnam has built up the largest network of medical service providers in the market with 50 hospitals and clinics in major provinces and cities. What’s more, the network is expanding.
Recently, Generali Vietnam Life (GVL) launched its E-Services © “GVL-Link” – a client portal for corporate clients and medical service providers. This is proprietary software protected by copyright and is the first of its kind in Vietnam for group employee benefits insurance. It offers superior functions meeting the needs of human resource managers, insured members and medical service providers.
“In Vietnam, employee benefits insurance has been transacted very much on a “product-driven” approach. Insurance covers are purchased more as a commodity focusing on price to product features comparisons without a full understanding of the importance of services, both to the employers and employees. We believe that product offerings to customers will not be complete without service capability and commitment to standards. It is also important to manage employee benefits insurance for sustainability and cost optimisation,” said Lam, when explaining the decision to go for strategic investment on the development of the service infrastructure such as client portal “GVL-Link”, continuous expansion of the direct billing network to include hospitals, clinics nationwide, wellness programmes and other service enhancement initiatives.
As for Group Business, Vietnam’s labour market is transitioning into a productivity-driven phase and an important pillar required for this development is a dedicated talent development and retention strategy. This applies to multinational and local corporations competing for skilled labour force to stay ahead of the competition. As a result of this, employees benefit solutions are fast becoming an integral part of companies’ competitive strategy, a topic for human resources heads and CEOs.
In its differentiated way, Generali Vietnam Life has adopted a multi-channel distribution strategy with the business model covering individual and corporate business through a proprietary sales team, international brokers and tied agents. By doing this, the insurer will be able to capitalise on the unique franchise of the Generali Group in the group employees benefits solution segment at the same time when building its tied agency force. On a selective basis, the firm will also develop alternative distribution channels such as banks and financial institutions.
Time for group insurance
Group life insurance for employees has drawn attention from various companies because it helps build up the loyalty of workers as they see the employer’s recognition of and rewards for what they have contributed to it. Insurance experts say the period of “hibernation” of the product line in Vietnam will finish soon.
The employee turnover rate at Vietnamese companies is rather high, and according to statistics, about 20 – 35 per cent of staff and managers change their jobs within one year. The insurers have found now it is high time to further promote group insurance products as a way to help employers reserve their human resources.
According to life insurance companies that supply the products, up to about 80 per cent of policy holders in group business renew their contracts. In the past, the main buyers of the products were foreign-invested companies and diplomatic missions. This has changed now with many Vietnamese companies having bought them for their employees.
In a broader view, according to the opinions of human resource experts, employee benefits insurance provides an additional and supplementary tool to the employee compensation and benefit framework of a company. It is also an effective means to staff retention. Moreover, it shows the shared responsibility between enterprises and the society when employees encounter with risks resulting in medical treatment, or accidents leading to the loss of work capacity, injuries, or even death at worst.
From regulatory perspective, the Vietnam government has recently created favorable conditions for employee benefits insurance through decree 122/2011/ND-CP which allows companies to treat the insurance premium paid for their staff as tax-deductible expenses. Lately, the Association of Vietnamese Insurers (AVI), the Insurance Supervisory Commission, the General Department of Tax cooperated with Generali Vietnam Life in the survey on tax treatment on group employee benefits insurance in search for solutions to set up an efficient administrative framework for the implementation of the decree.
Generali Vietnam Life firmly believes that the foregoing will bring a lot of impetus to the healthy development of the group employees’ benefits insurance market in Vietnam.