Ahmet Yaşar, General Manager of Quick Sigorta: “With our new project for our agents, we let our customers pick their agents, while giving our agents the ability to develop business in a digital environment.”
Can you tell us about your agency project called “Agent Değil Acente”?
When we launched our operations in May 2017, we also launched pure online insurance operations. At the time, people were able to visit our website and buy their policies completely online whenever they want. However, we were not able to contact the customers for further sales opportunities afterwards. As we were a digital insurance company from the very first day, we had established all our infrastructure to serve that purpose. We then decided to digitalize our agencies, too. At that point, we decided to launch “Agent Değil Acente” (Not agent, but insurance agent) project. In this era of technology, we enabled customers who want to buy their policies without consulting anyone to do so on our website. But, whenever a customer wants to consult an expert, our system kicks in and we direct the customer to our agents. Because agents are the experts of insurance and risk.
Where is the name of this project derived from?
With this name, we underline that our customers will be served by expert and trained insurance agents rather than some call center agent whom you do not get to know and are not sure whether you can contact again in the next call.
How does the customer meet with an insurance agent through the platform?
Everyone has their own tone in sales and marketing. Therefore, we requested our insurance agents to shoot some videos where they can explain themselves to the customers and share their messages however they wish. On our platform, customers are first welcome by those videos, which help them select the agent they want to work with. We asked our agents to explain themselves by answering the following questions: “Are you expert on a specific area, are you a trustworthy insurer, how can you describe yourself?” Today, an insurance agent located in Simav can sell policies to a customer in İstanbul through this platform. People choose agents due to variety of reasons. Some choose an agent because they find them sympathetic, some choose because they believe the agent is an expert of or trust their know-how on a specific topic, and other choose an agent because the agent is from the same city as the customer. In the past, people tended to choose the agents that are located nearby. We no longer need that. As we have understood during the pandemic once again, distances do not matter. Therefore, the relevant agency parameters of today are whether you can connect on some level, you can trust, believe you will be served or understood well.
Does entire process continues on the platform once the customer selects an insurance agent?
Yes, it continues on the platform. When a customer chooses to contact an agent, we initially recommend them 3 videos to watch. But if the customer cannot decide from among the initial 3 videos, we renew the recommendations. The customer can therefore select the most appropriate agent for themselves. If the customer wants to continue with an agent that is located closest to them, they can do so. We do not impose any obligations or restrictions. Once the customer selects an agent, we inform the agent through several platforms including SMS and e-mail. We inform them by saying that, “There is a customer on our online platform wishing to contact you at the moment. They are about to buy the product, but they have questions.” At that point, the insurance agent has 30 minutes to reach out to the customer; so, they need to move fast. This does not necessarily mean that the agent has to issue the policy or prepare the quote within that timeframe. It could be considered as a timeframe to initiate contact. As our insurance agents get used to this system, we will gradually reduce that timeframe. Our target is to provide rapid services to our customers. There are other parameters we use while offering customers recommended agent videos, such as area of expertise, working hours, location, or previous performances of each agent. We also have an “on-call agent” system. Naturally, not all our insurance agents prefer to provide services in the middle of the night. But online systems have a nature of their own. People want to conduct transactions at 3 a.m. in the morning. For such cases, we use the “on-call agent” system. All those parameters run in the background when a customer wants to contact an agent, and that is how they list the recommended agent videos. If the selected agent cannot provide services within 30 minutes, we direct the customer to a different agent; or our central teams intervene whenever necessary. That is how we can rapidly run this process.
What kind of feedbacks have you received from customers and agents after you launched the project?
Our agents are extremely happy with this project. In general, insurance agents are afraid that their policyholders will be stolen by the insurance company. They worry about direct sales eliminating agents from the process. But, this is not the case here. From the very beginning, we have informed our agents that we will be issuing policies on the online platform. Our difference is we have included our agents in this process. Because we know the customers in Turkey; and agents are very important intermediaries for them.
An agent in Bolu wakes up at 3 a.m. in the morning, leaves the bed for a policy which will only earn them a commission of 20 TL (unless it is cancelled) and writes the accident report for that traffic insurance policy. Nobody can provide such a service other than an agent. And there is no reason why we should not provide such high-quality services in cooperation with our agents. Our project “Agent Değil Acente” is the most important indication of this intention.
How was the project received in other countries?
Quick Sigorta is a member of EFMA, Global Association of Financial Managers. EFMA Managers are also the managers of global companies that operate in our country; they are bankers and insurers we know. We have been entitled to very important awards around the world with this project. And we are proud that none of those awards can be bought at a price. In fact, we have been awarded by our global competitors themselves. They are the CEOs and managers of big insurance companies. And they appreciate what we do. We are really proud to have established a professional solidarity with and received such awards from the best finance managers across the world. Our project was presented to foreign parties. This presentation was attended by participants from all around the world. Some participants even requested further meetings or more detailed information following the presentation. Dai-ichi Life, one of the top three insurance groups in Japan, was among them. We had a meeting and shared ideas with them. They showed great interest in our platform. It filled us with pride to be informing a Japanese company about a technology and sharing our know-how.
How was 2020 closed for the insurance market and Quick Sigorta?
2020 was a very strange year. It was like we woke up to an utterly unknown world. As Maher Holding, we had already made some decisions in February and started taking precautions before the pandemic broke out in Turkey. We forbid our colleagues to use public transport and asked them to use company vehicles or cabs. There were people in our private lives who got ill or died. In terms of business, as the pandemic broke out in May, insurance policies started to get cancelled or renewed. Towards June, things started to get better. People were staying at home, life slowed down, traffic intensity decreased. They thought the risks were ending and started to abstain from buying or renewing insurance policies. At that time, we always said the same thing, and just as well: “Risks do not go dormant, keep buying insurance.” In general, we can say that insurance market has passed the test of 2020 with flying colors. People restarted renewing their policies after June. We can say that 2020 was a good year for insurers. Even though growth rate in some insurance lines were lower than the inflation rate, our market grew in general. We are talking about a time when we experienced the biggest economic contractions since the great depression in 1929 or World War II. Despite those circumstances, Turkish insurance market managed to grow. We have recorded real growth in many insurance lines. In that sense, compared to other markets, we are really lucky. But, this is what it should have been; because our job is risk. What else could have happened in a period when risks and awareness increased other than the growth of insurance market? What we have experienced increased the awareness of society, and people tried to renew their policies as much as they could. Turkish insurance market’s premium volume in non-life segment reached 68 billion 143 million TL. Our life insurance companies produced 14 billion 431 million TL. As mortgage usage rates increased in June, credit-linked life insurance sales surged in parallel. As a result, life insurance segment grew more than non-life segment. Total premium production of the market reached 82.5 billion TL, with a growth that remained slightly below the inflation rate.
2020 was a good year for Quick Sigorta, too. Our company’s premium volume reached 1 billion 607 million TL. We grew by around 20 percent, which was higher than the inflation rate and average market growth.
Another company under our group is Corpus Sigorta, which has written a significant premium volume of 400 million TL. This means that our group has reached a total production of over 2 billion TL, which places us among top 9 in Turkish insurance market. These results indicate that 2020 was a highly successful year for us. We will be four years old in May. I believe that being among top 9 insurance companies of Turkey is a significant success criterion for a 3.5 year-old insurance company.
What are your goals for 2021?
We have declared 2021 as the year of financial insurance. There are some products we started working on in 2018, 2019 and 2020. We have opened a new segment in financial insurance, which includes a number of products. Bond insurance and related products are the most important ones among them. We have seen that people, in fact, need those products more often than we know.
We will move forward in all areas; but, this year, we will especially have new products in bond insurance and similar branches. We will keep growing in building completion insurance. We will keep growing in bonds and bills insurance through different products such as invoice protection insurance or security deposit insurance.
We will continue to expand our Prudent Merchant product this year. Most businesses are still closed, yet their losses continued to increase. Such circumstances leave businesses in a tight spot. After seeing number of businesses consulting us about this, we have decided to launch it for the new term too. We will be active in workplace insurance products.
We will also support arts and artists. We thought about how we can combine this desire with the insurance market, and have come to a beautiful conclusion. People are at home, theater actors and actresses are at home. Theaters are closed. We thought about how we can open the curtains, how we can help Turkey and stages come together. Led by Menekşe Uçaroğlu, we decided to support “tiyatronet” initiative, and kicked off as a report card reward for students. We gave tickets for two plays that can be watched on the platform to students who shared their excitement with us. Tiyatronet is an online theatre platform. They do not record and broadcast an existing play. They broadcast plays that are specially written, and shot in special digital studios. They make serious investments, as a result, plays are very high-quality in all aspects ranging from sound to lighting. And you can watch them whenever you want. You buy your ticket, and open the stage at your own convenience. We will gift all our policyholders with this opportunity. We believe that both citizens and actors need it. With this initiative, we aim to support our policyholders; but most importantly, we aim to support arts and artists. We want this platform to last long, and act as a lifeline support for them.