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50 Years of Innovation in the Care Services

50 Years of Innovation in the Care Services

Inventor of the Assistance Concept in 1963, the Europ Assistance Group Celebrates its 50th Anniversary this Year

Founded in France in 1963 by Pierre Desnos, a visionary French entrepreneur, the Europ Assistance Group--whose subsidiary CSA Travel Protection has been in the United States since 1991--celebrates this year its 50th anniversary and that of assistance, a business activity he created.

It also marks five decades of a Group that now covers the United States and 32 other countries.

50 years of being attuned to customers and tracking trends in society

This admirably sums up Europ Assistance’s history. The story of Europ Assistance begins back in 1963, at the initiative of Pierre Desnos: he was the first to identify the emerging needs of vacationers back then, fully appreciating the scale of the changes underway and the unprecedented growth in tourism and travel. He invented the assistance concept, which in turn gave rise to the Group. This new business activity quickly came to play an important role in the day-to-day life of consumers wishing to enjoy maximum protection during their trips, whether in the air or on the road.

After the 1980s, a time of international expansion for the Europe Assistance Group, a pivotal moment came in the 2000s with the creation of two new activities: Health and Home & Family services. This was in response to the “Care Revolution” concept conceived by Europ Assistance in 2003. It was an unprecedented revolution characterized by an ever-growing need for personalized services, the significant growth in demand for care, increasing urbanization, greater mobility as well as rising life expectancy.

Over the past 10 years, the Europ Assistance Group has grown threefold, reporting worldwide revenue of 1.417 billion euros in 2012.

Today these two new activities (Health and Home & Family), which are at the heart of Care Services, account for nearly a quarter of the Group's worldwide revenue; at the same time contributing to the earning power of the Group, which for financial year 2012 reported operating income of €56 million, up 65 percent over 2011. 

The Travel and Automotive businesses, the Group’s long-standing activities, still represent 26 percent and 48 percent respectively of Europ Assistance's worldwide revenue.

Assistance proves a tremendous success with consumers  

The top three improvements viewed as most important in the tourism and holiday fields over the last 50 years by Europeans are:

  • 72%: the development of air transport
  • 71%: the possibility to arrange your vacations online
  • 69%: being assisted and protected in the event of problems during your vacations

(Source: Travel barometer, Ipsos-Europ Assistance 2013)

68% of Europeans and Americans believe that medical repatriation is a major improvement when it comes to saving lives, 53% to travelling as a family and 44% to discovering far away and less well-known countries.

(Source: Health & Society barometer - Europ Assistance / CSA 2013)

Inventor of the assistance and Care Services concept

By combining human intervention with the latest technology, moving from assistance in specific situations to ongoing assistance with day-to-day life, we have rolled back the boundaries of the assistance industry and created a new generation of services: the Care Services. This is a considerable advance that adds value to Europ Assistance's activities and enduringly strengthens the Group's position as the world leader in assistance, 50 years after its invention.

With Europ Assistance, inventor of assistance then creator of Care Services, which draw upon the extraordinary potential offered by the new technologies, receiving day-to-day support to ensure greater peace of mind in your personal, family or professional life is now possible for millions of consumers. 

Europ Assistance now offers over 300 million customers access to better adapted, more efficient and faster solutions not just in its two long-standing activities (Travel and Automotive), but also in its two new activities since 2003. 

A tremendous personal and entrepreneurial adventure

Profoundly moved after hearing of the problems encountered by a couple of friends who suffered an accident in Spain and their difficulty in obtaining immediate help, Pierre Desnos became aware of the lack of protection available to travelers. With the help of Generali’s French subsidiary, the insurance company Concorde, he founded Europ Assistance in France and invented a completely new concept of assistance. 

On May 2, 1963, a telephone number became available to all French citizens looking to travel abroad with total peace of mind! A simple phone call was all it took to organize repatriation by air ambulance in cases of illness, injury or accidents.

If assistance is today a universal concept available in the United States and worldwide, this is thanks to the extraordinary intuition of one man, Pierre Desnos. 

By inventing the medical repatriation concept in 1963, he not only created Europ Assistance, but a complete industry, which has since gone on to anticipate new consumer needs. 

Pierre Desnos was an entrepreneur, ahead of his time in the marketing field. Here, we are talking about marketing in the noble sense of the term: offering consumers useful services to make their lives easier. Pierre Desnos was always attentive to the winds of change and was always a keen source of new ideas, instilling in his Group a modern and resolutely forward-looking corporate spirit. When he passed away in 2007 Pierre Desnos left behind him an incredible human and entrepreneurial success story of which the 8000 Group’s employees, in particular those in the United States, are the heirs and protectors.

An influential and unfailingly acknowledged brand

Managing a worldwide network, Europ Assistance is today very much part of the day-to-day lives of tens of millions of consumers around the world. Benefiting from its proud history, the attractiveness of its range of products and services and its value in the eyes of the general public, the Europ Assistance brand is known, recognized and appreciated by its clients. Its brand recognition level is particularly high in France, Italy, Belgium and Spain, where the company has been based for a long while. Of all assistance brands, Europ Assistance is the one most cited as an example by the French(2), Belgians(3) and Italians(4).         

Everywhere around the world, the Europ Assistance brand, which is chiefly included in the packages offered by its clients and partners, is synonymous with innovation and performance. For this reason it is not only a highly appreciated brand in its own right, but above all one that is preferred and chosen by hundreds of other major brands.

An authoritative international Group

In the space of fifty or so years, Europ Assistance has become a fully-fledged international Group, operating in 33 countries through its 44 companies controlled from the Group's headquarters in Paris (France).

Over the last 10 years the Group, which generates 72 percent of its revenue outside France, has also moved into China and India, not forgetting Brazil, which is currently the Group's largest company in terms of headcount.

Europ Assistance Turkey, formed in 2010, is the most recent company in the Europ Assistance Group.

The Group's 44 companies, set up in 33 countries, together form a powerful international Group with a shared ambition and resources serving its global and local customers.

A global power, a local presence

From 17 agents worldwide and 12 permanent staff handling 160 interventions in 1963, the Europ Assistance Group now handles 12.4 million interventions a year with its 8,000-person staff (including 4,700 assistance coordinators and 400 healthcare professionals) and 122 agents. 

Europ Assistance now handles 62 million phone calls through its 35 customer assistance centers worldwide and its 425,000 listed partners, assisting its clients ever more efficiently, humanely and promptly 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

A history shared with the Generali Group

Europ Assistance's history is closely bound with that of the Generali Group and started with a meeting between two men. These were Europ Assistance’s founder Pierre Desnos and André Rosa, the President of the French insurance company Concorde, controlled by Generali, which provided him with the resources he needed to make a success of his human-centric business project.

Fifty years later, thanks to the ongoing commitment of Generali, its main shareholder since it was founded and its sole shareholder since 2002*, the Europ Assistance Group has today become a world leader in this sector and an international Group. 

Today, the close links between Europ Assistance and Generali not only bear witness to their historical ties but also offer great promise for the future.  As a highly committed shareholder from the outset, which has helped Europ Assistance to expand, the Generali Group is a key partner with whom Europ Assistance achieves almost 15 percent of its turnover globally.

A Group serving major international groups

In addition to its local companies, the Europ Assistance Group now has an international activity branch, Europ Assistance Global Corporate Solutions (GCS), which offers major international groups and international players in the health field a complete range of health, safety and security solutions for their local employees, business travelers and expatriates. These include the delivery of on-site medical care solutions, the management of health plans, medical evacuation services, support with employee mobility, the organization of health care abroad, prevention and information campaigns, local and international health plan management, etc.

  1. After the Fiat group left that year, having held a 40% shareholding since 1994.
  2. TNS Sofres (September 2012).
  3. Ipsos (March 2013).
  4. Doxa (December 2012).