Europ Assistance brings people from distress to relief anytime, anywhere
Europ Assistance welcomes partnerships with industry leaders in the travel or elderly service areas in China.
[Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports www.discoveryreports.com]
When a boat carrying a group of Chinese travellers caught fire in the Maldives, Europ Assistance’s local operations personnel and doctors immediately took charge and supported each of the tourists medically and financially until they had fully recovered. The Chinese team of the travel insurance and assistance service specialist, meanwhile, informed relatives in China about the incident and medical status of the travellers. Such genuine concern for its clients is at the core of Europ Assistance’s comprehensive portfolio, which ranges from personalised travel and automotive insurance to bespoke elderly care and concierge services.
“We are committed to deliver you from distress to relief anytime, anywhere,” says Pierre Brigadeau, Europ Assistance’s CEO for North Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia. “We want to be the most reliable care company in the world, which is our benchmark for success and what our customers judge us on.”
Truly global reach
Pierre Desnos founded Europ Assistance in Paris in 1963, after witnessing the difficulties encountered by friends who had motor vehicle accidents in neighbouring European countries. With a multilingual switchboard, a medical team, 12 full-time employees and agent offices in 17 countries, the company carried out 160 assistance interventions in its first year.
Today, Europ Assistance is a trusted partner to more than 300 million individuals and corporations worldwide. The company’s more than 750,000 partner providers have performed a total of more than 12 million interventions in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Generali, Europ Assistance’s shareholder, offers nearly 200 years of experience and lends Europ Assistance the expertise of more than 74,000 employees across 60 countries.
“Since we invented the assistance concept over 50 years ago, our solutions have known no boundaries,” Brigadeau says. “Beyond emergency, our solutions help and anticipate customer needs on four corners of the globe, transforming assistance as reliable as running water, relentlessly providing you peace of mind one person at a time, regardless of your culture and language.”
Excellence in all lines of business
One of the company’s main business lines has been conceived around providing utmost support for travellers.
“No matter where you are in the world, regardless of what may happen to you, we will be there to get you medical care quickly, or bring you home with as much comfort and speed as possible,” Brigadeau says.
For corporate clients, Europ Assistance offers Carewings, an integrated travel risk management solution for mobile employees. With pre-trip travel risk intelligence and comprehensive insurance benefits and assistance services, business travellers and expatriates will have peace of mind throughout their journey.
Under the company’s automotive line of business, Europ Assistance services the largest insurance companies, car manufacturers, and vehicle leasing and rental firms worldwide. Through the Digital Roadside Assistance, for instance, the company offers the full range of service from fixing the vehicle on the spot to towing it to a trusted partner garage for repair.
Many of the company’s solutions, however, are preventive in nature. Last January, Europ Assistance and Generali partnered with Ellcie Healthy, which has developed smart glasses that can detect if the driver is too tired to drive. The glasses can automatically alert Europ Assistance to guide him to a hotel or call a cab for him so he may continue with his trip.
“I think we can influence the assistance industry to become more customer-centric. We want to be greater in people’s minds and thoughts, letting them know what we can do and how we can help them as individuals and as a business,” Brigadeau says. “We want to be thought of as a trusted travel insurance and assistance partner that is reliable and capable to support the exciting growth of travel industries.”
Such vision has compelled the company to adopt high-quality standards and create harmonious processes and digital tools. These include simplified online offerings such as WeChat, e-claims, and bots in its operating model.
“Customers have changing needs, which are directly impacting not just our products and services, but also our way of interacting with them. They want products that are easy to find, easy to understand and easy to buy,” Brigadeau says. “Customer perception of quality has changed. Smiling through the phone is less a requirement, whereby an immediate self-managed solution through a digital platform is now a must-have.”
This commitment for excellent service has earned Europ Assistance much recognition. The company, for instance, has won the TripAdvisor 2017 Travellers’ Favourites Award in Italy as more than 4,000 TripAdvisor users in Italy chose Europ Assistance as the best company to rely on for assistance when travelling.
Exporting expertise to China
Historically, Europ Assistance has been anchored in Europe, Latin America and North America. Though these geographies remain as growth markets and targeted territories for the company’s assistance services, Europ Assistance has started to look towards Asia.
The company believes that focusing more on China will enable Europ Assistance to grow further. It has long believed in the potential of the Chinese market and has opened a representative office as early as 1989 before establishing a service company in 2006.
“We have the expertise and aspire to further extend our brand to Asia,” Brigadeau says. “We believe there will be an increasing demand for our services throughout the region, especially in China, which is the fastest growing and second largest travel market in the world.”
Given China’s ageing population, increasing number of overseas travellers and growing automotive sector, the company’s elderly assistance and travel-related businesses will serve as the core pillars of Europ Assistance’s business development plans on the mainland.
The company has partnered with various industry leaders around the world and there is no reason why Asia would be different. As such, Europ Assistance welcomes partnerships with industry leaders in the travel or elderly service areas in Asia, especially in China.
“Travel assistance will be one of the key differentiators for the travel insurance segment in China in the next five years, and we think our experience and the quality of our network position us to be a market leader there,” Brigadeau says. “China would need a massive global support and an experienced local staff. This is exactly what we are, and the reason why we believe we can help the Chinese tourism industry develop faster.”
To succeed in China, the company believes it should be a priority for travel insurers to conceptualise new products and customer services especially designed for Chinese travellers going abroad for leisure or business. Europ Assistance is thus offering a new outdoor insurance product to protect Chinese customers against accidents and loss of equipment when they practise sports such as paragliding, scuba diving, skydiving, canyoning and cycling. Europ Assistance is a leader in the outdoor insurance segment in Europe and is behind successes such as Carré Neige, which is widely distributed in French ski resorts.
Europ Assistance likewise sees huge possibilities for elderly care in China. By introducing its expertise, platforms, medical networks and technologies, the company wants to help China reduce the impact on the society of elderly dependents and children of elderly or sick parents. In particular, the company plans on building assistance helpline platforms accessible 24/7, managing best-in-class networks of caregivers and developing innovative technologies for local use.
Last year, the company acquired CareLinx, a leading nationwide, tech-enabled caregiver marketplace in the United States. The Silicon Valley-based company will help Europ Assistance provide its customers and caregivers a cloud-based communication platform that enables choice, simplicity, consistency and better care quality overall based on the clients’ personal needs. Families will be able to monitor elderly in-home care and exchange information with their caregiver in real time using a smartphone.
“We think we will play a significant role in building leading elderly services in China, as this has always been the core expertise of the Europ Assistance group ever since,” Brigadeau says.
Besides China, the company is also present in a number of countries in Asia including India. Its ambitious plans for that market include further exploring possibilities in automotive-related services. Such strategy is expected to get a boost from the fact that Europ Assistance is already one of the major roadside-assistance service providers in the country.
The company’s drive to do more in the future, however, goes far beyond achieving good financial results. Europ Assistance handles about two calls per second, but makes sure that each customer contact resonates the company’s tagline “You Live, We Care”.
“We put care at the heart of everything we do and are different because we have a brand that is well known and associated with caring for people’s minds,” Brigadeau says. “We take individual responsibility for our clients and the outcome of our actions. We favour employee behaviours such as reliability, availability and care. In a nutshell, we make it easy for people from everywhere in the world to work with us.”