Allianz: A Friend in Need

‘Social’ could well be the word of this century so far – the context swinging between ‘media’, ‘distancing’ and ‘responsibility’ over the past couple of months.

For companies, the coronavirus pandemic has moved the spotlight sharply to the ‘S’ aspect of ESG. Rightly so – how can business thrive without an equitable society? At a time when Covid-19 is disrupting life, health and livelihood across countries, the ‘social’ responsibility of corporate citizens has assumed greater importance than ever before.

Allianz, as a company well-aware of its responsibilities, has always strived to support customers and communities in the best possible ways. The current situation is no different. “Our motto, ‘We secure your future’, is more important today than it has ever been,” says Allianz CEO Oliver Bäte.

Echoing the sentiment, Allianz entities worldwide have mobilized resources and launched initiatives - small, big and everything in between – to support communities in this difficult time.

Presenting a few highlights...

‘Vaccines’ for SMEs

As of April 27, coronavirus infections had topped 3 million and death toll was over 207,000. Frantic research and development of vaccines are underway and there is cautious optimism that an effective immunization tool will be found.

It’s not just humans who need these vaccines.

The respiratory illness has ravaged travel-related industries such as airlines, hospitality and retail but it is also threatening the health of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the backbone of many economies. A ‘vaccine’ is needed for SMEs too.

According to Allianz Research, coronavirus could prove fatal to as many as 9 percent of the SMEs in Germany and 11 percent in the six largest economies in Europe this year. The researchers forecast a hit of as much as 1.34 trillion euros to the Eurozone economy from the pathogen.

To protect hitherto healthy German companies, including SMEs, from ruin and prevent domino effect on supply chains, Allianz’s trade credit insurer Euler Hermes has joined hands with Germany’s federal government and the German Insurance Association. Under the initiative, the government will backstop losses of 30 billion euros for trade credit insurers this year to cover payment defaults by clients of German companies.

On their part, Euler Hermes and the other participating insurers will contribute significantly to the umbrella for the economy: They will transfer 65 percent of their premium income to the government, in addition to covering losses of up to 500 million euros and all default risks exceeding the 30 billion euros of the government guarantees.

Euler Hermes also reached an agreement with the French government, leading the negotiations together with other insurers and insurance associations to develop economic support solutions. A similar scheme was announced in Belgium through collaboration with credit insurers, governments and trade associations.

In addition to these state support programs, Euler Hermes has implemented a global strategy to support companies: regular global and local webinars are conducted to share with clients and brokers flexible claims and policy management measures, risk insights and economic predictions and procedures for accelerated claim payment as well as to address any specific needs of clients.

After the United States, Europe is the region worst affected by the pandemic. Spain and Italy have been the biggest victims in Europe, both in terms of people and economy, with France being the third worst-hit.

To soften the blow to SMEs, Allianz Spain has initiated several support measures, including delaying premium payments for up to 120 days, while Allianz France has pledged to contribute up to 28 million euros of the 400 million euros that the French Insurance Federation is donating to a French government fund aimed at helping small companies and independent workers. Moreover, Allianz France, along with other French insurers, has pledged to support the economic recovery of the country. For this, a global investment program of at least 1.5 billion euros has been set up for mid-cap companies and SMEs, particularly in the health sector. The contribution of the Allianz group in France to this program amounts to 120 million euros.

Other entities of the group have rolled out similar measures. 

Protecting the saviors

Notwithstanding the disruptions caused by lockdowns, many of us are safe, sitting in the comfort of our homes. In contrast, there are people battling Covid-19 on the frontlines, exhausted and vulnerable to the virus themselves.

Medical and paramedical workers are indeed the heroes of this year.

As they soldier on to save lives, healthcare workers need all the support they can. They have a friend in Allianz.

While Allianz France has donated 350,000 surgical masks to hospitals, Allianz Spain has made direct donations to the Red Cross. In addition, the Spanish entity has signed up for #YoMeCorono initiative of the Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital in Barcelona, the Fight Against AIDS Foundation and the IrsiCaixa Institute for AIDS Research, to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

Medical workers, who are exposed to the virus day in and day out, also risk taking infection home to their families. With the goal of providing safe and comfortable rooms to these professionals near the hospitals, Allianz Turkey has launched the ‘Be the Air’ initiative with the Lokman Hekim Health Foundation and Allianz France has tied up with Studapart, a platform that helps students find accommodation.

Further, the French entity has donated 1.5 million euros to equip hospitals in France with 122 ultra-portable ultrasound scanners. These scanners allow hospitals to immediately assess the situation of patients with Covid-19 symptoms and prescribe their therapy without delay.

Allianz Spain has also become the main sponsor of the OxyGEN project by the startup Protofy. OxyGEN is a device that automates the process of manual ventilation to patients in emergency situations. Under this open hardware project, Protofy makes the schematics and documentation available for download by anyone who wants to build such ventilators. Allianz Spain is facilitating the promotion of the device internationally, so that regions with a lack of ventilators can benefit.

allianz oxygen protofy
OxyGEN Project founders pose with a prototype of the emergency ventilator
Copyright: Allianz.com

In addition, the entity has contributed 2.8 million euros to a special 37-million-euro life insurance fund created by insurers in Spain for healthcare workers.

Italy, one of the first European countries ravaged by the outbreak, remains in a precarious position. There, Allianz has partnered with the Sapio Group to support the establishment of an intensive care hospital in the facilities of the former Fiera di Milano. This includes the supply of distribution systems, oxygen and medical gases for intensive care. Allianz Italy is also supporting two initiatives of the Milan municipality to assist the underprivileged in the city and a related project by the Trieste municipality to help local families in need. Moreover, the Italian arm of Allianz Partners has donated 55,000 euros for setting up a new intensive care hospital in Fiera di Milano.

Some Allianz employees, such as Allianz Partners Deputy Chief Medical Officer Francois Xavier Duchateau, are fighting the virus in hospitals with other doctors. He leads the company’s Medical Global Competence Centers (MGCC), which is managing, monitoring and supporting coronavirus cases in 30 countries. Francois, like other doctors in the MGCC team, does shifts at the local hospital – Paris, in his case.

Additionally, Allianz France, in partnership with UNIM, has donated 1 million euros to the Institut Pasteur and the Coronavirus Task Force for Covid-19 research and for supporting initiatives from startups to improve the daily lives of medical workers.

In news from other regions, Allianz Africa has earmarked 100,000 euros to support the Covid-19 efforts in the African countries where it operates. The funds will go into buying testing kits and medical supplies, which will be delivered directly to hospitals and health institutions.

Allianz Slovakia has allocated around 85,000 euros for the purchase of medical devices for hospitals. The first of these was a ventilation device donated to the University Hospital in Bratislava.

In Thailand, Allianz Ayudhya has donated 1 million Thai baht to source 1,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) and 4,000 N95 masks for hospitals in the Asian country. Close by, Allianz Indonesia is collaborating with Halodoc Indonesia to provide drive-through Covid-19 rapid tests in Jakarta.

Many such stories are emerging from each corner of the Allianz universe. 

Knowledge is power

Being connected via social media has made it easier for many people to deal with the isolation caused by the lockdown. However, social media is a double-edged sword. Instances abound of inaccurate and damaging information about the coronavirus being shared widely, causing panic and missteps.

In this context, accurate and timely information can prevent chaos. Towards this end, several Allianz entities have set up information platforms including coronavirus websites and newsletters, Covid-19 self-assessment tools, and telehealth and telemedicine helplines, among others.

For many, the mental distress caused by the crisis is as acute as the physical risks associated with it. Hearing and reading stories of death and tragedy without being able to seek solace in human interactions can be tough on a lot of people.

An initiative from Allianz Partners, in collaboration with Allianz Germany, looks to tackle this issue. Allianz Partners has entered into a collaboration with Get.On Institut to offer scientifically proven digital mental health interventions to the German population. These services, which include telephone consultations and live sessions, are not restricted to Allianz customers and can be accessed by anyone.

Several other initiatives within the group are also targeting the issue of mental health. 

Charity begins at home

Anyone who has ever done air travel knows you must put on your own mask in an emergency before helping others. This is true at Allianz too.

Thousands of the group’s employees across the world are working tirelessly to ensure Allianz is there for customers when they need them the most. Supporting them in this endeavor are good workplace policies, ranging from work-from-home and flexible working opportunities to holiday management, childcare facilities and healthcare helplines.

At the very heart of the group’s business continuity is its strong technology infrastructure, which facilitated a smooth transition to remote working. A ‘remote work toolbox’ on the company intranet provides employees with access to secure virtual tools and systems as well as tips, tricks and tutorials on how to optimize their work without compromising on personal time.

In addition, a crisis unit with several work streams is handling the various aspects of dealing with the pandemic on an organizational level, from people and premise management to operations and communication.

Each entity of Allianz has its own set-up to deal with the local business, assisting employees throughout the crisis in coordination with the headquarters.

Even though encouraging signs are emerging, the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. Opinions are divided on when the threat will pass, when we can return to normalcy and what the new normal would be.

The crisis is a stark reminder that unexpected events await us at every turn. As an insurer, Allianz is in the business of protecting customers from unforeseen problems, across geographies and business lines.

Securing your future – today, tomorrow and beyond.

The Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with more than 100 million retail and corporate customers in more than 70 countries. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insurance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing 766 billion euros on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore, our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage 1.7 trillion euros of third-party assets. Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business processes and investment decisions, we hold the leading position for insurers in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2019, over 147,000 employees achieved total revenues of 142 billion euros and an operating profit of 11.9 billion euros for the group.

These assessments are, as always, subject to the disclaimer provided below.

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Flavia Genillard
Allianz SE
As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements:
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