The COVID-19 crisis has been a shock for Turkish companies, as it was around the world. The severity and reach of the pandemic have made us all think about what could have been managed better and what lessons can be learned from it. The pandemic has underlined the value of risk management, forcing companies to adapt to remote work, learn new technologies, and find different ways to serve clients and customers. Most importantly I believe that the role of risk managers and risk awareness in general have increased substantially.

COVID-19 and Turkey

Looking specifically at Turkey, there are four main points I would like to address.

First of all I think that the Turkish Insurance market has reacted quite well to the pandemic. Nearly all companies started working remotely at the very beginning of the crisis.The Ministry permitted assessments, exemptions of invoices, indemnity payments on a digital basis.

Secondly, the insurance companies responded positively with regards to the different fees and treatment costs of COVID-19 (which are excluded in nearly all policies in Turkey and covered by the state scheme) to be covered during the epidemic as ex gratia payments in the scope of existing policies.

Thirdly, in addition COVID-19 has accelerated digitalization in Turkey, like it did in most countries. I believe that in Turkey we reached a point in digitalisation which we wouldn’t have reached in such a short time without this crisis. A lot of companies have accepted that Digitalization is not a choice anymore but it’s becoming a requirement if one wants to remain competitive in its markets.

Source: *Digital Quality of Life Index 2020, Surfshark

On the other hand we had a lot of grey areas and question marks which had to be dealt with specifically concerning Business Interruption claims, as it has been for other countries and insurance markets as well.  There is no question that the Insurance market does not have the financial strength to deal with such a risk on their own therefore government support is very important for such crisis, but it needs to be in partnership with the insurance sector. Moreover we hope to see more innovative non-physical BI solutions for the future, as the demand for that is growing day by day.

Lastly, the uncertainty the crisis brought up made companies have a dialogue with their brokers, that’s where we came into the picture. Even though non physical BI concerning pandemic was not included in the Property policy, the fact that there was a closer dialogue between the client and the broker allowed the broker to have an open discussion with the client about any other possible gaps and risk management solutions. We for example have received much more enquiries for Business Interruption, Cyber and Parametric Insurance proposals after the Pandemic crisis than we did before. In Turkey, in general, we saw greater awareness concerning other insurance products, such as health insurance or cyber insurance. So I believe that COVID-19 will actually intensify the focus on other areas and lead to rise of a new area of risk management approach.

 COVID-19 and NART

So what about NART? While the market grew around 19%, as NART we grew over market average around 32 % in 2020. We have tried to stay close to our clients and business partners by organizing webinars, online meetings and online seminars.

This helped us in gaining new clients especially in the field of Heavy Industries, Energy and special risks.

Source: Insurance Association of Turkey

Moreover we managed to expand our team. Our human resources department carried out the HR process digitally with online interviews to help us recruit new colleagues. Thanks to this we were able to enlarge our team despite quarantine.  

Moreover we did not refrain from continuing with our yearly conferences, advisory board meetings and forums.

We had our traditional NART Risk Management Forum, online this time. The subject was The Risk Management in the Health Service Providers Industry and we had General Managers of large hospital chains, PPP projects and insurance companies as speakers.

We tried to stay in continuous touch with our clients in Turkey as well as abroad.

In conclusion we feel grateful and lucky being active in an industry not having experienced the harshness and cruelty of the Pandemic like other industries have. Since NART  has been in the market since more than 20 years now and having specialized in more corporate and complex risks also helped us to overcome this crisis smoother that maybe other agencies and brokers in Turkey.

COVID-19 and The Turkish Insurance Market

We feel that the Pandemic has had a positive effect on the Turkish insurance market in terms of awareness. The importance of insurance has been underlined once more,  be it in the area of health, cyber or supply chain management or other and the Turkish companies have once more experienced how crucial risk management and the role of a risk manager is.

Looking at the future I strongly believe that if the Turkish insurance sector can learn from this crisis and if we, as an industry, get more involved in innovative products, like Parametric Products, Non-Physical BI, Cyber Risk Insurance and invest more in digitalization, we can turn this crisis into an opportunity. I am convinced that there is a great chance for innovative insurers and technology companies and for high market growth.

Some Updates about the market for the readers:

As some readers may not know, the Turkish insurance market is dominated by motor, with third party liability and casco making up more than 40% of the market’s total premium income. In the third quarter of 2020, the Turkish market saw average growth of 22 % mainly driven by life and Health Insurance. In addition the market also saw continued growth in Liability risks along with increases in Property, Credit, and Surety Bond insurances.

We had also a lot of movements and new entries in the market: HDI bought Ergo in Turkey,three state owned insurance companies Ziraat, Güneş and Halk have merged under the Turkish sovereign wealth fund and renamed as Türkiye Sigorta A.Ş., Türkiye Sigorta A.ş. thus becoming the largest non-life Insurer for the third quarter of 2020. This is new for us all, as it has been a long time since a state owned Insurer has been number one producer in the market. Besides  that, the government established a third Reinsurance company in the market called TURK Re, with the aim to support the country’s insurance sector and increase capacity.

Another very important development for the Turkish insurance industry is the update of the compulsory Earthquake tariff as of 01.01.2020. For futher information please feel free to get in touch with NART.

About the Author

Denise Nart
Denise NartVice Chairman of the Executive Board at NART Sigorta, Istanbul