A Possible Lifeline

How to Insure the Insurers

JoergWestphal
Protektor head Jörg Westphal is the last best hope for German insurers if they run into trouble.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Many Germans have cancelled their life insurance policies as rock-bottom interest rates eat into their returns, fueling doubts about the health of the sector.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Protektor, which is headquartered in Mannheim and Berlin, was founded by German life insurers as part of a private initiative in 2002 to act as a safety net for the industry.
    • In 2006, the company took over the tasks and powers of Germany’s statutory guarantee fund for life insurance providers, which had been created two years earlier.
    • Around 90 million life insurance policies are currently held in Germany, reflecting their widespread popularity as a savings strategy.
  • Audio

    Audio

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It is the final lifeline for Germany’s many life insurance policy holders, but most people don’t even know it exists.

Protektor, a private company that since 2002 has formed a sort of security blanket over the troubled industry, is based in an inauspicious four-story building in Mannheim, an industrial town in the central German state of Hesse. Even taxi drivers can’t name the building if you ask them to take you there.

And yet, Protektor could soon play a critical role in Europe’s largest economy. With interest rates at record lows across Europe, life insurance firms in particular are teetering on the brink. If they fail, it will be up to Protektor to pick up the pieces and ensure that policy holders still get their payouts.

Jörg Westphal became the head of Protektor in 2005. In an interview with Handelsblatt, he assured that his company has the resources to handle a possible crisis. Even large insurance companies could be saved if they run into trouble, he said.

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