CLIENTS typically start paying attention to insurance assistance services only after they experience an accident or a breakdown. And while clients are familiar with assistance services provided with travel or car insurance, assistance services to property or legal protection insurance are a relative novelty on the Slovak market.
“We are always trying to explain to clients the extent of an insurance policy, the procedures at the insurance event as well as which obligations stem from the insurance policy,” said Judita Smatanová, spokeswoman of Union Poisťovňa. “Often, however, clients repeatedly confirm the information at the insurance agent or in our call centre, especially after an accident happens.”
Petra Greksová from the communications department of Allianz – Slovenská Poisťovňa agrees that clients do not always know to which insurance assistance services they are entitled to as they often do not read their insurance policy in details. They become more interested in the extent of the services only when they actually need help.
“They usually tend to think that the insurance includes a larger extent of services than it really does or they do not know under which insurance policy the accident belongs,” she added.
However, the insurance companies stressed that if a client is unsure about the services he should turn to his insurer for more information.
“It is always better when a client calls and asks whether an assistance service applies in his specific situation,” said Dana Macková, a member of the board of directors of Wüstenrot Poisťovňa.
In the Slovak market, assistance services are most common with - and normally an inseparable part of - travel insurance or car insurance and clients consider them a matter of course.
“Assistance services to property insurance are a relative novelty,” said Greksová. “These can be successful, especially in cities where people are not so used to doing repairs themselves.”
Looking to the future, Allianz – Slovenská Poisťovňa believes health insurance assistance services - provided as medical consultancy or emergency information services for elderly people - could become a part of life or commercial health insurance.
A 24-hour line to a physician as an assistance service to its health insurance, is already provided by, for example, Union which also operates in Slovakia as a health insurance company.
“The doctor on the phone does not replace the visit to a physician or the emergency services; he mainly gives advice,” Smatanová said. A patient can, for example, ask questions about his diagnosis when he does not understand it or when he wants to make sure whether he is correctly using medicines prescribed by his doctor.
Wüstenrot cites legal services, as a specific form of assistance to legal protection insurance, as having potential in the Slovak market.
“Clients in Slovakia usually expect assistance services provided with the insurance to be free, that is to say that the insurance includes the services without a significant rise in the price of insurance,” said Greksová. “However, in countries with a longer history of insurance markets clients are often willing to pay extra for above-standard assistance services, for example, for their households.”
29. Sep 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports