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DECAVI Insurance CEO Event

DECAVI Insurance CEO Event

The insurance sector in our country is about to face substantial changes. That is the main conclusion drawn from the 14th DECAVI Insurance CEO Event currently taking place in Brussels. This event, organized by DECAVI together with service provider KPMG, offers a platform for the CEOs of Ageas and Belfius – each representing an important market share – to shed light on the future of this sector.


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The Belgian insurance sector is now, more than ever, facing a variety of simultaneous and mutually reinforcing changes: 

  • The continued low interest rate and the volatile financial markets are threatening to pose serious problems for life insurers, because they often promise higher returns when concluding life insurance policies than are achievable in the current interest rate environment. 
  • Claims costs are increasing in virtually every insurance product range, from health care insurance (repayment of high-tech and expensive health therapies), car insurance (higher repair costs due to the more expensive technological car parts), household insurance (more frequent storms causing more damage) and liability insurance (increased legal fees, impact of cyber attacks, increased reputational damage as a result of social media, etc.). 
  • The introduction of and compliance with new and strict regulations, such as the Solvency II capital requirements, the IFRS accounting standards, increased product transparency, privacy procedures, insurance distribution and anti-money laundering guidelines, cost money. 
  • Insurance customers expect the same online and mobile services as those available in other consumer sectors. It is therefore crucial to invest in new technological and digital administration platforms. 
  • Increased price and product competition as Belgium is a relatively saturated and mature insurance market and in order to remain competitive with potential new players in the market, such as GAFA technology giants, FinTech/InsurTech start-ups, private equity funds or Brexit (re)insurers. 
  • Car insurance, which threatens to no longer be relevant in the near future due to the emergence of self-driving cars.

Bart De Smet, CEO of Ageas, considers customer focus and finding a suitable and innovative solution for each evolving customers’ need as the biggest challenges for the insurance sector:

“For Ageas the customer is always our prime concern. Everything we do revolves around our customers’ needs. Responding appropriately to these ever-changing needs is therefore the greatest challenge facing our business and the insurance sector in general. Technology can play a key role in ensuring our efforts are successful, provided it is used correctly; in other words to improve the customer experience. The sector also needs to keep looking for solutions that offer additional protection, in the event of death or sickness for example, as well as solutions in the area of supplementary pensions.”

Marc Raisière, CEO of Belfius, sees the digitalization of insurance distribution and continuous product innovation as the two most important ways to meet the highly dynamic consumer needs of Belgian policyholders:

"The insurance sector is facing numerous challenges: a low interest rate environment, the digital revolution, increasingly tighter regulations and constantly changing customer needs. Belfius wants to address these challenges with innovative solutions. Our bank insurance model allows us to offer customers a personalized approach in terms of the product range, services and pricing. We are rapidly expanding our digital leadership in mobile banking to insurance products. Of course, customer satisfaction is and remains our priority. Anticipating customer needs with new initiatives in the field of pension insurance, the development of ecosystems to increase mobility, and the simplification of our processes are just some of the ways in which to focus on the customer. Thanks to the talent of our employees, we are convinced that we will succeed in overcoming these challenges." 

Pieter Herremans, Insurance Practice Leader at KPMG Belgium, embraces these important trends in the Belgian insurance market:

"Belgian insurers are subject to an accelerated consolidation wave. The new European solvency requirements mean that unprofitable insurance portfolios will be rejected and bought by conglomerates who are able to realize larger economies of scale. This doesn't just apply to insurers, as insurance intermediaries will also see a consolidation and professionalization trend due to the stricter legislation and guidelines regarding insurance distribution." 

According to KPMG, the emphasis will increasingly lie on customer focus: 

"Existing insurers will need to work together more closely to jointly give the Belgian insurance sector a more customer-friendly and relevant image. In doing so, digitalization will play a crucial role and will not necessarily be engaged from outside the sector, but initially from the traditional market players," concludes Herremans. "After all, contrary to other consumer sectors, insurance continues to be an extremely complex and regulated profession that is not easy to replicate. As a result, the existing traditional insurers have a huge competitive advantage over any potential newcomers."

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