VIG Re sets sights on Germany, France
Since it started writing external business
some 10 years ago, VIG Re has built up
a reputation as a specialist in Austria and
Central and Eastern Europe. But it is now
starting to set its sights further afield, Johannes
Martin Hartmann, its chief executive, told
Monte Carlo Today.
VIG Re has been writing some business
in Germany for six years but, by the end of
September, it will have an office in Frankfurt,
Germany, to service this business and target
It has also started writing a small portfolio
of business in France and expects to announce
two hires who will cover the France/Benelux
region in the coming months. They will
initially operate from the head office in Prague
but the company is also pondering launching
an office in Paris in either 2018 or 2019.
At its foundation nine years ago, VIG
Re was essentially a captive—it reinsured its
parent company, the VIG Group, and bought reinsurance on its behalf.
After the strategic decision was made to turn the company into an
active reinsurer, writing third party business, it has invested heavily in
better systems, processes and people, Hartmann said, and has grown
steadily in its core region of Austria and Central and Eastern Europe.
It performs well in these markets, thanks to deep market knowledge of
the region. This, combined with its low cost base—half that of many of
its rivals—means it outperforms its rivals in these markets, Hartmann said.
The company is ready to embark on an international expansion. “We
have been operating in Germany for several years already but we feel it is
time to take the next step into this market and others,” he said.
Hartmann admitted that VIG Re does not yet have the in-depth
regional knowledge it has in its core region but it can bring other
attributes that are attractive to cedants. Since its parent has no intention
of competing in Germany and France, it can also offer primary insurance
services and skills to its clients, supplied by its parent.
“Aspects of the German market are challenging but we work mainly
with mutuals and public law insurers who appreciate some of the services
we can offer and our relationship-driven approach,” Hartmann said. “We
have built up a nice portfolio on that basis.”
The company plans a similar strategic approach in France, working
with mutual and regional players in the same way.
“There is a similar cultural fit in that market and we will replicate
what we have done in Germany,” he said.
He stressed that despite its expansion plans, the company sets itself no
growth targets, preferring to find the right relationships over time.
“Once we work with a client we are there to stay. We do not follow
cycles, it is a very long-term dynamic for us.”
Hartmann added that he believes the reinsurance landscape is
changing and a wider variety of business models will emerge over
time. “There will always be room for a smaller, more nimble player
“There will always be room for
a smaller, more nimble player.”
able to work very closely with clients,”
He added that VIG Re still fulfils the role
of reinsurance buyer for the VIG Group,
which is one of the largest buyers in Central
and Eastern Europe buying approximately
€400 million ($480 million) of coverage.
Hartmann said its reinsurers do not see its
dual role as a potential conflict, being more
interested in leveraging its deep knowledge of
the region to work closely there instead. With
his buyer’s hat on he believes that after several
years of softening rates, things will level off in
the upcoming renewals but he expects very
little change beyond that, in either his own
programme or the wider market. n Johannes Martin Hartmann
www.intelligentinsurer.com | www.bermudareinsurancemagazine.com DAY 4: Wednesday September 13 2017 | MONTE CARLO TODAY | 29