Evgeni Benbasat is a professional with many years of experience in developing early stage businesses with a rich portfolio of successful companies behind him such as AIG Life, Achieve Global, UBB MetLife, etc. He was most recently in the position of executive director at DZI, where together with his team, he turned DZI Life into a market leader for the last three years. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from The University of National and World Economy and a master’s degree in marketing from City University of Seattle, Seattle, USA.
Peter Damyanov has been the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of MFG since 2016. He holds a master’s degree in finance and statistics from the University of Paderborn, Germany, as well as a bachelor’s degree in international business and management from Dickinson College, Pennsylvania , USA. Damyanov is a financial expert with many years of banking and insurance experience, and before joining the MFG team he was part of the management of Alfa Bank – Bulgaria branch (currently part of Eurobank Bulgaria), holding the position of financial director, and for eight years he was responsible for the investment strategy of MetLife Bulgaria.
Instinct’s ambitions go beyond the already developed seven European markets of the other companies in the MFG group. In October, the company launches sales with a partner network of brokers, travel agencies, etc., which are outside the MFG group’s own sales network and customer base, and will also look for a higher segment of customers, and through its online sales channel – customers who primarily use technology through a computer, phone or other device. The company is focused on innovating different and unfamiliar solutions to existing products within the scope of the granted license, which are unique to the Bulgarian insurance market.
Earlier this year Instinct Insurance, part of MFG, received a licence from the financial regulator to operate on the local market. What prompted you to set up an insurance company?
Evgeny Benbasat: We believe that the insurance penetration in Bulgaria is still low and there are high margins for development especially for the client segments that our company operates in. Having in mind our geographical reach in other countries in Europe we can capitalise on MFG presence there and develop the markets there.
Peter Damyanov: One of our main motivations was the success of MFG’s trading structure, which showed that it can sell and understand products, and can explain them to our clients. Our prior partnership with an insurance company (before we made the decision with our shareholders to apply for a licence) demonstrated the potential to expand our group’s reach. The next step for Instinct is to work with other partners beyond our trading structure.
Evgeny Benbasat: First and foremost, we want to help build trust in the insurance sector. We believe that this is one of the main reasons people hesitate to get insurance. Our approach to changing this perception involves being faster, more user-friendly, transparent, and closer to the customer in their moments of need. We want to shift people’s view of insurance in a positive direction and make it more accessible and convenient for them.
Peter Damyanov: We aim at speed and clear terms when resolving claims. People should get an answer – whether positive or negative – as soon as possible.
What are your key advantages on which you plan to capitalise?
Evgeny Benbasat: Our main advantage is that we can provide coverage to those who need it most, especially people with lower incomes.
We want to improve the world of insurance by making our services crystal clear, being easy to do business with, fast and close to customers in times of need. We are offering products that try to differentiate us from the rest and give customers comfort and peace of mind. Peter Damyanov: As I said our main advantage is speed. Regardless of whether the response is positive or negative, we aim to provide faster and clearer responses. For some of the products we discuss with our colleagues, our idea is to make them “modular” – to offer smaller and more basic coverage options. Our goal is to increase the adoption of insurance services among customers.
What kind of clients do you target?
Evgeny Benbasat: We target all uninsured customer on the market, with a special focus on the underprivileged customers which we serve in the group. We primarily target clients who traditionally are not well-served by banks or other insurance providers because they are considered “risky.” These may include individuals with lower incomes. We want to reach out to those who have the greatest need for insurance. If someone with an average or higher income experiences an event, they likely have savings or resources to help them. However, for someone with lower income and existing debt, insurance becomes crucial. One of our primary goals is to reach this segment, make insurance more accessible to this segment and change their perception of insurance, and then expand into other markets.
How big is your client base and what are your growth expectations?
Evgeny Benbasat: After operating for only three months on the Bulgarian market our customers have become more than 30,000 and we plan to double them by the end of the year.
On which segments and markets do you plan to operate?
Evgeny Benbasat: Initially, our focus was on providing coverage to clients of the lending companies in MFG – Easy Credit, Viva Credit and Biala Karta. Peter Damyanov: In the coming months, we will add new products targeting various consumer segments. These will cover not only property insurance but also travel and medical insurance for treatment abroad.
Evgeny Benbasat: Our ultimate goal is to provide coverage to as many people as possible and to make the insurance process faster, more transparent, and more user-friendly. We want to change the perception of insurance and make it a positive experience for our customers. Our special focus will be on home insurance where we see a lot of potential, as well accident and travel. Our initial plans are to start EU operations where the MFG group has active business operation – Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Spain and Croatia.
Instinct is an insurance company, part of MFG, with a general insurance company license, according to Bulgarian Insurance Code.
We aim to increase:
- Understanding the protection offered by different types of insurance;
- Trust in the insurance sector;
- Insurance coverage against risks beyond the mandatory ones.
We are here to change the general perception of insurance companies in the market by being:
- Faster. We quickly make decisions, quickly pay or give feedback;
- Easier. We do not complicate processes and speak in simple and accessible language.
- More caring. We do everything with the customer in mind – solutions, products, processes.
We are there for the customer in difficult times to help him find a solution.
- More transparent. Our terms are clear. We’re open about what we cover and what we don’t. All information is available to the customer.
- More innovative. We create new and different solutions that keep up with modern trends.
And wherever we decide, we are directly ahead of time.
The executive directors of the company are Evgeni Benbasat and Petеr Damyanov, who have been assigned a key role in the strategic positioning of the new insurance company, in the development and launch of products and services, in the deployment of new distribution and sales channels, in the overall construction of the organization as business processes, as well as in building its identity with an innovative, bold and different approach to the market.