It only takes a few minutes for what has been painstakingly built over the years to disappear in an instant. Proof of this is the series of earthquakes in 2020 that shook central Croatia, and a few years ago Croats encountered large fires, floods and torrents that caused multimillion-dollar damage to property of citizens throughout Croatia. According to Eurostat, Croatia is at the top of the European scale in real estate ownership. More precisely, almost 90 percent of Croats own at least one. However, despite the great damage, when it comes to property insurance, we are at the bottom of the European scale. Awareness of the personal responsibility of Croats is still low, although the average property insurance premium in our country is three to four times lower than the European average.
Nives Grgurić is the head of legal affairs and projects at the Croatian Insurance Bureau, a national insurance bureau that represents an association of insurance companies in legal transactions with third parties. He sees the reason for these statistics in the low level of awareness of citizens about the need for insurance in general, but also in the fact that some of them are not aware of the meaning of their property. - Insufficient apartment buildings are insured in the construction part, especially from earthquakes. These include common areas of buildings such as sheds and attics, staircases, foundations and basement walls, built-in installations and all built-in appliances. Apartment owners do not have the feeling that they are the co-owners of these parts of the buildings. When a natural disaster occurs, many of our citizens expect help from the state, which is not realistic and which is an indicator of the lack of awareness of personal responsibility for their own property - comments Nives Grgurić.
Croatian premium lower than the European average The earthquake is, however, only one of the risks that can damage or destroy property and cause large costs to owners if they do not have insurance protection. The large disproportion of investment in property insurance in Croatia compared to other European countries is of particular concern, as Croatia, along with Greece, Turkey, Northern Macedonia and Italy, is in the most tectonic risk area in Europe. Namely, for property insurance, the average premium per capita in the European Union is 174 euros, and in Croatia only 51 euros per capita.
- There is a noticeable trend of concluding property insurance contracts. Although it is an unfortunate event that has extremely severe consequences for many, the earthquake is likely to encourage citizens to think more about the possibility of harmful events in their lives and business and to think more actively about the relationship between insurance investment and potential costs - adds Nives Grgurić. Precisely in the strong earthquakes that hit Zagreb and Petrinja, Sisak, Glina and the surrounding area, insurers reacted quickly and efficiently to the earthquake and performed the necessary actions in difficult conditions and paid significant amounts of insurance (over EUR 55 million) within the legal deadlines. Insurance as an investment, not a cost According to a survey by Ipsos Pulse, more than 65 percent of citizens significantly overestimate the amount needed to fully insure the average apartment. Namely, for the price of an average apartment of 60 m2 in Zagreb, the annual premium is around 1,000 kuna. Although the property insurance premium per capita in Croatia has been growing very slightly in the last ten years, this growth and absolute value are still far below the European average.
- Certainly a higher standard of living affects purchasing power. However, in EU countries, citizens with lower incomes than Croatia spend much more on insurance because there is a higher level of awareness of the importance of insurance and a different understanding of insurance. Insurance is primarily an investment, not a cost. Awareness of property insurance in the Republic of Croatia is still very low. The penetration and density of insurance show the insufficiency of property insurance in relation to other European countries - Grgurić comments.
Ljubica Caren, a pensioner with an address in Zagreb's Čučerje, felt the consequences of the lack of property insurance because her property was damaged in an earthquake and the damage was great. - I was thinking of insuring the property after the earthquake because I am aware that property insurance is a useful investment. A neighbor had a chimney damaged during the quake, and her insurance paid all the expenses. These new houses also have a lot of investments, so it is certainly profitable to insure their property - concludes Ljubica Caren. Liljana Pušić is an accountant who owns real estate in Kašina and has been a property insurance user for twenty years. - Now we've even stepped up the shelf since the earthquake. Our house has three secured floors, we have secured movables on two. Insurance also covers earthquakes. Unfortunately, people in Croatia do not have the habit of securing a house and are negligent. They don’t care about their real estate, and most have inherited it.
If you will not invest, you give up many things, and real estate insurance is important to us. There are people who don't. However, that is why we sleep more peacefully - comments the resident of Kašina. The question of the individual, but also others
There are three basic elements of home property insurance that citizens of the Republic of Croatia must keep in mind, including earthquake insurance. Homeowners can provide movables, i.e. things in their apartment like a TV or furniture and a construction part. The third part that can be provided, ie the common parts of the apartment building such as the staircase, roof or basement, the co-owners contract with the building manager separately. - Insurers are efficient in repairing and compensating for damage, and in a short period of time the property of the insured is returned to its original condition. However, the most important thing is to be well acquainted with the insurance conditions that are taken out for a particular case and to be aware of what we pay the insurance premium for, or what exactly it covers in the event of a harmful event. Insurance companies offer many products of different profiles and it is necessary to find the one that best suits individual personal or business needs - comments Nives Grgurić.
The benefits of property insurance are many. In addition to ensuring a secure existence independent of uncontrolled influences, it also provides opportunities to manage all risks, adds Grgurić. - The purpose of property insurance is to increase the economic stability of individuals, but also society as a whole. Insurance also performs important social functions because, the greater the representation of insurance, the less the eventual obligation of the state to compensate for damage and economic assistance to individuals and companies, such as fires and floods - comments the head of legal affairs and projects of the Croatian Insurance Bureau (HUO), Nives Grgurić. Financial literacy is crucial The fact that the lack of insurance can lead citizens into serious problems, whether in life or business, and their decisions are greatly influenced by the financial literacy of citizens. It is needed so that the people of Croatia can more easily make informed decisions about financial products and services, including property insurance. Since 2015, insurance companies and the Croatian Insurance Bureau (HUO) have been carrying out activities aimed at affirming and popularizing the financial literacy of citizens, especially young people. The project is implemented within the National Strategic Framework for Financial Literacy of Consumers, and the National Strategic Framework for Financial Literacy for the period from 2021 to 2026 is being prepared. The joint project of financial literacy 2021 of insurance companies and the Croatian Insurance Bureau, with the support of the Association of Insurers of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, is the crown of many years of work to raise youth awareness of the importance of financial literacy in insurance. Financial literacy is essential so that citizens can make the right decisions for the benefit of themselves and their property and to raise the general level of awareness of personal responsibility.