Environmental responsibility

Conservation of resources and the environment and creating awareness with respect to natural disasters are highly important to Vienna Insurance Group. This is shown by a variety of examples from the Group companies.

A “reward” for e-mobility

The electric car trend is gaining speed. More than 5,000 electric vehicles were registered in Austria in 2015, and experts predict that the number of electric cars could increase to 175,000 by 2020. Group company Wiener Städtische supported this trend towards environmentally-friendly vehicles with a special “e-mobility bonus” in 2016. Customers purchasing motor insurance (third party liability and own damage) for an electric vehicle during a specified time period received a one-time credit of EUR 500 toward their premiums. Purchases of insurance coverage for e-bikes were also rewarded last year. Each customer purchasing full own damage coverage for an e-bike, including e-bike third party liability, received a premium of EUR 50. Wiener Städtische also continues to offer its preferential rates for electric vehicles.

Be an “ecoist”

The number of cars in Georgia has risen considerably in the last few years. Far more than half of them are more than 15 years old, leading to a massive deterioration in air quality. The Georgian Group company GPIH has addressed this problem and began a campaign in 2015 under the slogan “Be an ecoist, not an egoist”. The company used original, effective media methods, such as calling in the “air police”, to make people aware of the problem. A separate website (www.ecoist.ge) with useful information on environmental pollution and driving safety was set up at the same time.

In order to promote environmentally friendly vehicles and help solve the problem, GPIH offered large discounts on its motor insurance for vehicles with low levels of harmful emissions and low engine power. The campaign was supported by two national NGOs and attracted a great deal of attention in Georgia. The ecoist website recorded more than 65,000 hits. The initiative was continued in 2016. This time, the company offered to plant trees to offset the CO2 emissions of customers who purchased policies. The Georgian resort town of Borjomi is now 2,000 trees richer. GPIH also wanted to increase public awareness of clean air with this campaign.

Keeping risk on the radar

As shown by the changes in previous years, a general increase is taking place in the intensity and frequency of natural disasters. The economic damage is considerable, and the loss amounts are rising at a faster than average rate due to increased population density and higher asset values. Storms, hail and flooding generate losses in the millions practically every year.

Good quality public weather and climate information plays an important role in prevention. Group company Wiener Städtische therefore presented its Risk Radar in 2016. The interactive map at risikoradar.at allows users to perform an independent analysis of their personal risk for the first time in Austria. Risks due to storm, hail, flooding and lightning are available so far for users to select. Because the long-term trend is important, two time periods (ten years and five years) are specified. The risks can be analysed separately or in combination to produce a detailed risk analysis. Wiener Städtische is helping to increase public awareness of risk in this way.

Central and efficient – the new state head offices in Upper and Lower Austria

Conserving resources is not only important for customer products and services, but is also taken into account in the Company’s own business activities. An example of this is the use of energy efficiency as an important criteria for new construction and the renovation of office buildings, such as the new state head offices for Wiener Städtische and Donau Versicherung in Upper and Lower Austria and s Versicherung in Upper Austria.

A central location was chosen at Dr. Karl Renner Promenade 14/Schulring 23 for the new state head office that opened in St. Pölten in 2013. This of course says nothing about the energy efficiency of the building, but is important in terms of the route travelled by the around 180 employees, customers, partners, etc. In addition to the choice of location, the building also satisfies state-of-the-art energy standards. Referred to as a “green building”, it incorporates low-energy design, a photovoltaic system and geothermal cooling of the IT and building services rooms.

The fully renovated and redesigned state head office in Upper Austria also wins points for its central location in the heart of Linz and outstanding infrastructure in the area. To optimise energy efficiency in the state head office, which was opened in 2016, a new façade with additional thermal insulation and high-efficiency thermal windows was added and cooling ceilings were installed in the offices.

Collecting waste paper by cargo bicycle

Collecting waste paper by cargo bicycle (photo, © Omniasig)

Collecting waste paper by cargo bicycle
© Omniasig

The Romanian Group company Omniasig takes part in an innovative environmental initiative that also has a social aspect. “Recicleta” is a social project that was started in 2009 by Viitor Plus, a Romanian association for sustainable development. It offers a “clean” pickup service for recyclable waste (mainly paper, but also including PET bottles and aluminium) in Romania’s capital city for companies with small and medium amounts of waste. This is noteworthy, because recycling is otherwise only economical for large quantities of waste in Bucharest. “Ricicleta” employs people who are having difficulty entering the labour market.

Cargo bicycles are used to pick up waste paper at regular intervals from companies in Bucharest – including the offices of Omniasig since 2014 – and take it to a large collection point. In its first six years, “Recicleta” has transported around 290 tonnes of waste that was subsequently recycled. This is a major success, particularly given the country’s extremely low recycling rate. Omniasig collected around two tonnes of waste paper and cardboard for recycling in 2016. The company plans to expand its recycling to include PET bottles, aluminium cans and old batteries in the future.