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Q&A: President of motoring club maps out challenges of the road ahead

Cologne. ADAC president Peter Meyer speaks about the club's future orientation. With 14.7 million members. the ADAC is the largest club in Germany.

Q: The ADAC is selling holidays, automobile insurance, books and soon it will also be offering financial services. When will you offer death benefit insurance?

A: The statutes tell us what we can do, which is anything to do with mobility. Therefore death benefit insurance is out of the question. However, accident insurance with savings for life insurance might be a possibility.

Q: Why that combination?

A: Because ADAC members have shown great interest in insuring themselves against the consequences of an accident. They ask themselves who pays what, when and what for, and rightly so.

Q: Why don't you leave this business to insurance companies?

A: Our products are not only the result of responding to the demand of ADAC members. Our services start where those of our competitors finish.

Q: For example?

A: In the case of a leg amputation our accident insurance will also cover the modification of a car to make it useable by a disabled driver.

Q: With 14.7 million members behind you it is easy to be the enfant terrible.

A: We don't see ourselves as an unruly child. We are aiming to break the old structures. Insurers should not be able to dictate what is possible and what isn't.

Q: What made you decide to offer financial services so soon?

A: Our strategy is to identify gaps and fill them.

Q: The ADAC will hardly be in the position to undersell the automotive banks' low-cost offers.

A: No, that is why we focus on the used car, trailer caravan and mobile home sectors.

Q: The ADAC will not be the only one on the market financing used cars either.

A: We approach people who don't want to be dependent on an automobile dealer when financing a car. And every financial service provider offers different conditions and interest rates. We are aiming at making the search for the cheapest service easier by offering standard conditions nationwide.

Q: Every financing application has to be investigated for suitability. Will you not be faced with the problem of having to reject some of your members?

A: That is a risk we have to take. With our insurance we also sometimes have to refuse.

Q: Which banks are you going to cooperate with?

A: We haven't made a decision yet. We are negotiating with several banks.

Q: Also with those of automobile manufacturers?

A: They are showing interest and have given some good feedback.

Q: In order to offer special conditions for their models via the ADAC?

A: For god's sake. Absolutely impossible. We are Germany's largest consumer protector and would never participate in such a combination.

Q: You hinted that you might do this business under your own name.

A: We are not so presumptuous to say we will open a bank and "let's get going."

Q: Does that mean that you will not open your own bank?

A: If we get a good response we will consider applying for a part or full bank license in order to improve the conditions for our members. However, no decision will be made within the next five or ten years.

Q: With your considering entering the financial market the question arises if the ADAC is still an association or a commercial business.

A: The ADAC is an association which has subsidiaries in order to develop products and services. However an association should be run like a company.

Q: Would it not be more sincere to turn the ADAC into a joint-stock company?

A: This is what we want to avoid and will avoid.

Q: Why?

A: The ADAC is a large mutual society. With us you will get satisfaction instead of dividends. Each of our members sees themselves as part of our association. This is why the ADAC is so successful on an emotional basis.

Q: Regardless of whether they are association members or shareholders: at the end of the day everyone wants to profit from the ADAC, for example by getting the membership fee back through discounts.

A: That is not a problem for us. With our advantage-package our members receive a lot of discounts and price deductions when buying our products or when booking hotels or going to amusement parks. Three or four times the amount of the membership fee can be saved, according to members' usage of their membership. This is a benefit for the society's members and reflects the ideals of a club.

Q: The ADAC keeps growing. Does the ADAC also have any "problem children"?

A: Our telematics activities are currently a worry. Our investments in the development and sales of the software have so far not had a return. The members want those products but are not yet prepared to pay for them.

Q: Does that mean you will stop your telematics activities?

A: No, but we have substantially reduced the developments.

Tags: Automakers

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