Hanfa conference: “Consumer Protection in the Field of Insurance and Pension Savings”

The conference “Consumer Protection in the Field of Insurance and Pension Savings”, organised by the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency (Hanfa), gathered around a hundred of experts in this area. It was an opportunity for them to share the latest experience and comment on trends relating to consumer protection in this industry.

The goal of the conference was to discuss the role and possibilities the industry has as regards the strengthening of financial literacy and consumer protection. The keynote speaker of the conference was the Chairperson of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), Ms Petra Hielkema, who commented on consumer rights protection in the European context. She noted that we live in very dynamic times, with challenges faced by the insurance and pension savings industry, such as the effect of the artificial intelligence, which were not even talked about some ten years ago. She also mentioned the supply and demand factor of the insurance industry, saying that there are several reasons that make people fail to take out insurance. Sometimes they have a bad previous experience or believe that they are not the ones to suffer from damage or that, e.g., devastating storms do not usually hit their towns; while sometimes they are not familiar enough with insurance products or think such products are related to higher costs than they really are.

In his opening speech, the President of the Board of Hanfa, Mr Ante Žigman, said that the relationship between consumers and large financial systems sometimes resembles the fight between David and Goliath. In this relationship, the consumer is placed in a subordinate position, and this is where the regulator comes in with its task to protect the consumers from unintentional and intentional mistakes happening in the industry.

“When it comes to consumer protection, just like in health care, prevention is the best cure. This is why financial literacy is so important. An adequate level of financial education is a goal to be achieved by all of us: services users and providers, together with supervisory authorities. The importance of the confidence in the financial system and economy at the government level needs no further explanation in this context”, summarised Mr Žigman.

In the introductory part of the conference, Mr Davor Zoričić, the State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Croatia, highlighted the issue of financial literacy and pointed out the sale of “national bonds” as a positive step in raising the level of financial knowledge of citizens.

The Managing Director of the Association of Pension Funds and Pension Insurance (APFI), Ms Dijana Bojčeta Markoja, commented on pension savings in Croatia, saying that their survey conducted among Generation Z has shown that they are already considering their future investments, which is something that distinguishes them from earlier generations. Mr Hrvoje Pauković, the Managing Director of the Croatian Insurance Bureau, spoke about insurance risks and changes brought about by new circumstances, and presented data on the disastrous storm that hit Croatia in July. About 20 000 claims are expected to be filed, with the payment obligation reaching around 40 million euro.

The conference was followed by the panel discussion “Trends and prospects for insurance and voluntary pension insurance in Croatia”, with the participation of Ms Petra Hielkema, EIOPA Chairperson, Mr Ante Žigman, Hanfa Board President, Mr Petar Vlaić, CEO at Erste d.o.o. društvo za upravljanje obveznim i dobrovoljnim mirovinskim fondovima, Mr Davor Tomašković, CEO at Croatia osiguranje d.d., and Ms Marijana Ivanov, full professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Zagreb.


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