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Sep 20, 2007 16:07 EEST
September 20 (SeeNews) - Cardif, an insurance unit of top French bank BNP Paribas, has started operating in Croatia and plans to carve a niche by offering innovative products in the already developed market, a top company official said.
"As the Croatian insurance market is quite developed, both in terms of life and non-life insurance, Cardif’s strategy is to seek a market niche by offering new kinds of products to clients," Ana Ivancic, chief executive of Cardif in Croatia, told SeeNews in a recent interview.
Cardif will offer customers insurance which protects them against temporary dissability, involuntary unemployment or sudden death by repaying all or part of their loans, she added.
In case of illness longer than 45 days, the insurance policy covers up to 12 monthly payments of a loan, Ivancic explained.
For involuntary unemployment it covers up to six payments and in case of death it covers the whole loan up to a maximum amount of 200,000 kuna, she said.
Twenty insurers operate in the Adriatic country of 4.4 million people. Their combined premium income rose to 6.272 billion kuna ($1.204 billion/858 million euro) for the first eight months of 2007, up from 5.657 billion kuna a year earlier, according to data of Croatia's financial regulator.
The top three insurers in the country are majority state-owned Croatia Osiguranje, Allianz Zagreb, a unit of the German Allianz Group, and non-life insurer Euroherc Osiguranje Zagreb, part of the Croatian insurance, car dealership and car leasing services concern Agram.
Cardif got the financial regulator's nod to start operations in Croatia in July and last week started offering debt insurance in cooperation with Croatia's biggest commercial bank by assets Zagrebacka Banka (ZABA).
"Our aim is to be number one, since we are the first to offer such type of services in Croatia," Ivancic said.
At the moment debt insurance policies are linked to cash loans with up to seven years maturity and short term loans of up to 12-months repayment period.
By the end of the year Cardif plans to expand its product portfolio to car loans and later to mortgage loans and GAP insurance, which covers the difference between the replacement cost paid by conventional insurance and what is still owed on the lease in case the car is wrecked or stolen.
"Our products are currently based on the needs of ZABA's customers and their structure will follow the clients' structure," Ivancic said.
"We plan by the end of 2008 to expand and add other banks and financial institutions to the network, offering our services," she added.
According to Ivancic, there were currently no plans of BNP Paribas to enter the Croatian market directly with other services.
"This could happen if BNP Paribas buys a bigger bank, which has units in Croatia, but a direct acquistion is not in the plan," she said.
Cardif (www.cardif.com), the life insurance unit of BNP Paribas Assurance, develops and markets savings and protection solutions which are distributed via diverse channels in 37 countries.
The company cooperates with 35 of the world's leading banks and various financial institutions. It offers life insurance policies to individuals in 11 countries, while protection products are available in 33 countries.
(1 euro = 7.3126 Croatian kuna)
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