Founded by the state in 1911, Banco de Seguros del Estado
), or State Insurance Bank in English, operated as a monopoly for the insurance industry until 1995 when changes, especially stemming from Mercosur, instigated the demonopolization of the majority of insurances, thus opening the market to foreign companies. Bank president Mario Castro discusses BSE’s position today in Uruguay.What have been the main changes since the market opened to new insurance banks?
This bank served for 85 years as a monopoly. When the competition arrived, everyone thought it would be hard for BSE to maintain its position, but it has proven strong. Today, we still have some 65% of the market.
We’ve recently chosen a new general manager who has a sales background, and we’ve asked him to develop a strategic plan for the business. There are many issues to address: deeper market research, greater marketing capacities, technology improvements, and entering the areas of microinsurance.
We’re also now in the middle of a technological upgrading; in more concrete terms, we’re installing integral insurance software that will afford us better management and the possibility to offer a higher quality of service.
We’re introducing a lot more technology into in the sales area, because this is where the most pressure is from the competition, and this creates a permanent challenge. This is why the bank is also developing its marketing and sales strategies and its planning, and is working harder than ever to achieve its goals. What importance does the bank’s name have and what weight does it carry in the market?
What the bank strives to transmit is security. This is a business where we try to reassure those who have the misfortune of having an accident or being robbed that he or she at least can rest easy knowing that their financial stability will not be affected.
Our motto is ‘Nobody gives you more’. Besides this motto and our firm belief in it, this is a state bank, meaning it has extra support. The challenge is to be safe and be the fastest.
What role can BSE play for foreign companies who may want to come and invest in Uruguay?
We’re a general company, meaning we cover all insurance types. We’re in all branches, so we can satisfy the needs of any company that comes. We’ve got occupational insurance, something we mono-polize, business insurance, property insurance, and of course life, accident, personal, and automobile insurance.
In Uruguay, our offer is more complete than the rest of the competition.