New chairman of AK81

Alex Schönenberger has taken over as Chairman of the Board of the Insurance Compensation Fund (Ausgleichskasse Versicherung AK81) as of 1 January 2021. Until the spring of 2020, he was head of business and employer issues at the SIA. The Compensation Fund provides social insurance services. It has 1,240 members. About 50,000 insured persons and 13,000 pensioners are affiliated with the Fund. The Compensation Fund collects contributions for old age and survivors’ insurance (OASI), invalidity insurance (IV), loss of earnings compensation (EO) and unemployment insurance (ALV) – about CHF 660 million in 2020. It is responsible for paying out OASI, IV and EO benefits – about CHF 330 million in 2020. The SIA and the Swiss Managing General Agents’ Association (SVVG), established the compensation fund in 1948 when the OASI system came into force. The head office of the Compensation Fund is also responsible for operation of the Family Allowances Office FAK81. Just over CHF 65 million in contributions and benefits for family allowances are processed by the Family Allowances Office. 


Alex Schönenberger

Alex Schönenberger has taken over as Chairman of the Board of the Insurance Compensation Fund (Ausgleichskasse Versicherung AK81) as of 1 January 2021.

New website

As the main sponsor of Compasso, private insurers are committed to professional integration. A new website is available to support employers.

Compasso, the network for professional integration, revamped its website at the end of November 2020, making it even easier for employers to find the information they need. Compasso is committed to ensuring that employees remain employable. It also helps employers to identify health problems faced by their employees at an early stage. In addition, Compasso helps employees to get back into the labour market. To this end, the network supports employers in the reintegration process by raising awareness, providing tools and solutions, and coordinating system partners and system support.

The SIA has supported Compasso as a main sponsor since 2015. ‘Ultimately, all insurers that deal with personal injuries can save on benefit expenses if people of working age are in employment,’ says Bruno Soltermann, senior doctor and head of the SIA's personal injuries and reintegration working group, who will retire in July 2021 after more than 20 years with the SIA. Private insurers can also benefit from Compasso’s tools as employers themselves. The commitment is also a perfect fit for the SIA’s three strategic objectives: appropriate regulation, employment policy and anchoring sustainability. Soltermann: ‘With Compasso, insurers and employers, together with associations for people with disabilities, show that they take responsibility for promoting the integration of people in the work process.’


Quantum leap in hail data

Hail is one of the biggest natural perils in Switzerland. This prompted the insurance industry to support the development of the new hail map.

‘The development of the hail maps as part of a public-private partnership shows just how important risk partnerships are as a way of joining forces to face the challenges associated with major risks’, says Gunthard Niederbäumer, head of Non-life and Reinsurance at the SIA. ‘The hail maps unveiled on 7 May 2021 represent a quantum leap in the quality of hail data.’ The maps are based on state-of-the-art scientific methods and offer a wide range of applications. ‘They provide information not only on hail frequency by area, but also on the size of hailstones that can be expected in a particular region’, explains Niederbäumer. The maps also clearly show that the larger the hailstones, the rarer this sort of hail event is. Establishment of links such as these is crucial for the private insurance industry, as it allows hail risks to be calculated as precisely as possible. As a result, insurers can provide even better advice in the selection of efficient and sensible preventative measures.

The hail maps are also helpful for defining premiums. Natural perils insurance (buildings, household contents and vehicles) is subject to a standard premium, but hail damage to cars, boats, caravans and facilities, such as mountain railways, or agricultural crops, such as fruit trees, vines or grain, are insured on the free market with risk-based premiums. 

Detailed data allows the risks to be calculat ed more exactly, supporting precise pricing by insurers. The maps also help insurers to evaluate their portfolios. ‘For example, they are able to recognise accumulated hail risk and respond by taking out reinsurance’, says Niederbäumer. The hail map was compiled under the auspices of MeteoSwiss by four federal offices, the association of cantonal building insurers, the Swiss hail insurance company, the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects and the Swiss Insurance Association.


‘Competition based on quality instead of a planned economy’

Joachim Eder, Präsident Kommission Gesundheitspolitik von economiesuisse

Joachim Eder, president of economiesuisse’s newly established Health Policy Commission.

Joachim Eder, why is the new commission required?

Joachim Eder: With a dedicated commission, economiesuisse is responding to the considerable importance of the topic of health, a mega-trend that now permeates all areas of our daily lives. It was high time to upgrade the existing working group. The move gives health policy issues the same status as the areas of infrastructure, law, education/research, energy/ environment, foreign trade, finance/taxes and competition, for which commissions have already been established.

What are the most pressing health policy challenges?

We must get health costs, with rising health insurance premiums, under control. Another vital aspect of health policy is the long-term security of our social systems (OASI and occupational pensions). We also need greater transparency and coordination, competition based on quality instead of a planned economy, uniform financing flows in outpatient and inpatient medicine, and a correction of misguided incentives. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of security of supply to the fore.

What attracted you to this new role?

As a former director of health for canton Zug, and as a member of the Council of States, I have always attached great importance to a liberal, innovative and financially sustainable health system. Unfortunately, the reforms of recent years have increasingly moved towards centralism instead of consistently pursuing a path of regulated competition. Together with the strong commission team, I want to work to ensure that private initiatives are maintained and that the state footprint becomes more moderate. We aim to be a professional body with real clout. After all, forecasts put health expenditure last year at about CHF 85.5 billion, or 11.2 per cent of gross domestic product.


New vice president of the BFU

Christoph Bühler, Vizepräsident BFU-Stiftungsrat

From 2021, Christoph Bühler will represent the SIA as vice president on the Board of Trustees of the BFU.

From 2021, Christoph Bühler will represent the SIA as vice president on the Board of Trustees of the BFU, the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention. He is head of personal insurance and a member of the Management Board of Zürich Versicherungs-Gesellschaft AG. Samuel Grossenbacher, Die Mobiliar, Marc Lambert, Groupe Mutuel, and Irène Hänsli from the SIA also represent the interests of private insurers on the Board of Trustees. Representatives of the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (Suva) and the other insurers make up the remaining members of the Board of Trustees. Suva holds the presidency of the Board. The Council for Accident Prevention fulfils a statutory mandate for prevention of non-occupational accidents.


Self-regulation of insurers

Lawyer Christina Brugger took over at the helm of the Self-Regulatory Organisation of the Swiss Insurance Association (SRO-SIA) on 1 January 2020. The SRO-SVV has existed as an independent association since 1999. It fulfils the requirements for self-regulation in accordance with the Federal Act on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Anti-Money Laundering Act, AMLA). It has been commissioned by Finma to monitor its members’ compliance with money laundering regulations as part of self-regulation, and to work with its voluntary committees to ensure practical, efficient measures to combat money laundering. 


Christina Brugger_Teambild

Christina Brugger took over at the helm of the Self-Regulatory Organisation of the Swiss Insurance Association (SRO-SIA) on 1 January 2020.

Independent arbitrator

The Swiss Ombudsman of Insurance and Suva recorded a slight increase in the number of cases handled in 2020.

Thanks to processes that were successfully digitalised at the beginning of 2020, the Swiss Ombudsman of Insurance and Suva were able to maintain their service without any restrictions, even during the lockdown period. They recorded a slight increase of 1.7 per cent in the number of cases handled: 3,350 enquiries and complaints were processed last year. The Ombudsman is an independent foundation and the service is free of charge for insured persons. The service is supported by the insurers and is used to resolve and mediate in the event of differences of opinion between the affiliated insurers and insured persons. It also answers insurance law questions in the context of problems with the insurer. In 2,997 cases last year, it was able to resolve the issues raised by insured persons directly. In about 30 per cent of the 1,383 complaints submitted in writing, the Ombudsman approached the insurer concerned. Of the interventions in 2020, 77 per cent were concluded with a positive outcome and resulted in an improvement for the insured person. The past year was dominated by the effects of the pandemic for the Ombudsman. It received a large number of enquiries related to epidemic and travel insurance. Conversely, the number of enquiries relating to compulsory accident insurance fell by 20 per cent. The Ombudsman also recorded a slight drop in cases in most areas of private insurance.


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