ING is teaming up with France’s Axa to develop a new type of digital insurance that will rebuild the Dutch bank’s insurance activities two years after it was forced to sell out of the sector.
The partnership between two of Europe’s largest financial groups, which is to be announced on Wednesday, is designed to provide a new form of digital insurance to 13m of the Dutch bank’s customers in six countries.
The deal comes just over two years after ING sold the last chunk of its stake in NN Group, the biggest insurer in the Netherlands. The Dutch bank was forced to dismantle its bancassurance strategy by disposing of NN to comply with EU state aid rules after being bailed out by its government in the 2008 financial crisis.
“We are not going back into the insurance business as an owner,” Ralph Hamers, chief executive of ING, told the Financial Times. “We have never left the insurance business as a vehicle to distribute it.” The bank still sells NN products to its Dutch and Belgian customers.
ING will offer the “stripped down” digital versions of Axa’s property and casualty insurance products to customers of its online bank in Germany, Australia, France, Italy, the Czech Republic and Austria.
Thomas Buberl, chief executive of Axa, said the deal was “different to what Axa has done in the past”.
Rather than a traditional bancassurance partnership in which insurance products are sold face to face or over the phone, the deal with ING would mean that insurance products were fully integrated into the bank’s systems and digital processes, Mr Buberl said.
That, he said, would allow Axa to break insurance products down into their constituent parts and sell only those components that a customer needs, rather than selling broader insurance policies that have a wide range of elements.
“It is a very modular and decomposed offering,” said Mr Buberl. “We disaggregate the products and link them to the customer journey of ING.
“Traditional insurance products have many different coverage elements and they do not fly on digital platforms.”
Mr Hamers said the tie-up would allow the two companies to assess whether customers have over-insured themselves by buying cover for the same risks via several different policies. “You can look at elements that are missing or take elements out,” he said.
The Dutch bank aims to integrate insurance offers into its various digital platforms designed to provide a comprehensive service for customers to achieve a specific goal, such as buying a house or a car.
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