The Business Year

Juan Carlos Realphe

COLOMBIA - Finance

Juan Carlos Realphe

CEO, Zurich Colombia

Bio

Juan Carlos Realphe has a degree in business administration and a postgraduate certification in insurance and strategic management. He has over 30 years of experience in the insurance and reinsurance industry, starting his professional career at Colseguros and later working in companies such as Allianz, Mapfre, and Willis. In 2019, he joined Zurich Colombia as CEO. Prior to joining that, Realphe served as country manager of Lloyd’s Reinsurance.

Zurich Colombia has been working on different initiatives directed at digitalization and innovation to simplify insurance sales and increase penetration.

What is Zurich’s story in Colombia, and what has been the company’s strategy since arrival?

Zurich arrived six years ago directly, which is different from our strategy in other countries. Usually, Zurich will acquire a company or a competitor in order to enter a market already within the top five spots when it comes to insurance rankings in that country. Today, we are in the middle of the rankings in Colombia, at 14th, in terms of the number of premiums. This is the first part of our journey here in Colombia. We have defined 2024 as a major milestone in the journey of Zurich Colombia: we want to have premiums that amount to COP1 billion by 2024. Today, we have about 60-70% of the portfolio represented among corporate clients, enterprises, and companies. The intention in 2024 is to become a company that is 50% corporate clients and 50% of personal insurance for houses, cars, and others. The insurance sector is not just about selling a policy; it is about protecting the dreams of the people. We are sending strong signals to the market that Zurich is an insurance company for personal alliance in Colombia, and not just for corporate clients.

Can you elaborate on the importance for businesses and individuals in finding a partner in insurance?

The insurance sector is important for people, the economy, and for the government. We do not just sell insurance but build and deliver resilience. Insurance is a financial tool that allows people, companies, the government, and the economy to recover the same situation that they had before. It is the way to help people to continue with their plans, dreams, and projects. That is the importance of the insurance industry. We are building resilience for society. Because of the pandemic, people today have more interest and knowledge about insurance and the benefits that it can provide for their future and their lives. The pandemic has, overall, been a negative experience generally; however, one of the good things to come out of it is the greater awareness around the importance of insurance.

Zurich was the first insurance company to launch a 100% digital car insurance product in Colombia. How do you assume the position of being a leader in innovation?

In Zurich Colombia, 60% or more of its people are millennials. This allows us to think differently by bringing different kinds of services to the market in order to differentiate ourselves. The most important part of that is our team and the composition of our people. We wanted to offer something that is different from the traditional car insurance currently in the market. The answer came from the millennials. In cities today, the main insurable object is not the car, but the individual. We have developed a car insurance that is not assigned to a car but rather an individual. At the end of the day, it is a mobility solution that allows you to commute from your home to work in a car, scooter, bicycle, or public transport whereby you are 100% covered by your insurance no matter how you commute. It is a new concept. In addition, it is 100% digital and 100% modular. You can design your own insurance based on your necessities. This is a different concept in the market. 

How is Zurich contributing to the expansion of insurance penetration in Colombia?

Our car insurance program and our homeowners’ program all have the same intention and objective, which is to have a different product. They are different in that they are digital and modular. Most importantly, one can buy insurance with Zurich from anywhere; they don’t need to come down to the office or get an inspection of their cars. It is different now because the process of insurance must be easy for policyholders and easy for us. As long as you have an easy process, you can increase your penetration in the insurance industry. 

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