HUK-Coburg buys shares in Pitstop – Economy

The largest German car insurer, HUK-Coburg, is expanding its car-related services. The group takes over 25.1 percent of the Pitstop garage chain with 300 companies.

The insurer already has partner workshops that offer their clients services that go beyond repairing insurance damage. As a result, the HUK service network includes a total of 450 garages in over 200 cities.

Pitstop was founded in 1970. The company runs workshops for all car brands throughout Germany and employs approximately 1,300 employees. Stefan Kulas will remain the majority managing shareholder of Pitstop after the transaction.

The company did not disclose the purchase price. The acquisition still has to be approved by antitrust authorities. In this way, the insurer positions itself as a service provider in everything related to cars and ensures numerous contacts with potential new customers in motor insurance. “Pitstop already has a large customer base, which we hope to significantly increase,” said HUK CEO Klaus-Jürgen Heitmann from SZ.

The HUK-Coburg brand will be clearly visible in the offer. The first contact and thus the booking should be mainly via the HUK service platform, says Heitmann. “We guarantee that the associated workshops ensure our quality standards.”

Pitstop branches will retain their brand, but the HUK-Coburg brand will also be clearly visible at the workshops.

HUK is the market leader with 13.4 million vehicles insured and far ahead of the number two Allianz, which is stagnant at 8.7 million vehicles.

But like many other insurers, the company has a problem: when it comes to new cars, manufacturers who have their own insurers or work with several companies such as Ergo and Allianz are digging up the water. They offer policies as part of the sale of a new car. In any case, manufacturers also want repairs and service to remain in their authorized workshops.

Used cars that are driven by more cost-conscious customers are in fact the core business of HUK-Coburg. But here is where the influence of comparison portals like Check24 is growing. In addition, Coburgers must be afraid that Internet companies such as Amazon and Google will enter their business area.

It is important to retain customers and offer as many car services as possible. According to the calculations of the marketing managers of the market leader, switching from insurers to a policy cheaper by EUR 30 should not be profitable. Because that would mean she and he would be missing out on pleasant vehicle services.

“The planned participation in Pitstop is another step in expanding our range of HUK services to include everything related to mobility,” explained Heitmann. “It puts us even closer to our customers in the growing mobility market.”

HUK-Coburg has a network of 1,600 partner workshops that specialize in repairing accident damage. Customers who choose a contract with a connection to a workshop entrust the repair of the vehicle to a company from the network and in return save around 20 percent of the liability insurance premium. The insurer saves because he has agreed with the repair shop particularly favorable hourly rates in return for good use.

Of these 1,600, 150 also offer car services. There, customers can use HUK to change tires and oil, and commission repairs that have nothing to do with insurance damage. Now 300 pitstop workshops have joined them. Pitstop is not focused on repairing accident damage, but on service.

The garage network is the most important, but not the only service provided by Coburg. The insurer is already a used car dealer through HUK-Autowelt in Düsseldorf and also buys vehicles from its customers. Together with the insurers LVM and HDI, HUK has established the Onpier platform, which is to offer additional vehicle-related services.

HUK policyholders who have their cars serviced or repaired in 450 workshops will no longer benefit from favorable prices. This was the case before with 150 partner companies. In this respect, the situation of customers is deteriorating, there are fewer discounts. However, the company is already planning marketing campaigns and vouchers for its own policyholders.

The HUK brand is present in the everyday life of drivers through car services, and the insurer creates valuable points of contact with potential new customers.

The insurer has updated the HUK-Autoservice website and now offers various services related to the topic of tires, main inspection and emission test, oil change, air conditioning service, brakes, exhaust system, chassis, battery and inspection. Services can be booked via the website and appointments are also available at short notice.

HUK-Coburg does not want to alienate its previous partners with a pit stop agreement. “150 partner workshops, which also offer auto service, remain an integral part of the HUK workshop network,” explained Heitmann.

“A clear distinction needs to be made between controlled accident repair on the one hand and maintenance and servicing on the other,” said Thomas Geck, Claims Process Management Manager at HUK-Coburg. Apparently, there should be no turf wars between firms.

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