IGREA ANNUAL CONGRESS – 2016
On October 25th, under the banner of “Living with Uncertainty”, IGREA held its traditional annual Congress with over 140 attendees from the main Spanish companies in the Insurance Sector and business world in general.
The Congress was opened by Augusto Pérez, the President of IGREA, who began by thanking all participants for attending and Cristina San Sebastian, on behalf of Iberdrola, for the loan of their headquarters and the magnificent organization of the event. He went on to highlight the success of the previous Meeting and congratulate Daniel San Millan for the growth in the number of members and consolidation of IGREA since it was founded, only 7 years ago. Subsequently, he underlined the principle of independence as one of the association´s signs of identity and how they had achieved one of the main objectives which is the exchange of experiences and transmission of knowledge amongst members.
Lastly, he explained the composition of the new Board and the short-term objectives. Apart from promoting activities as it has done up until now, IGREA wants to become the representative body for companies in their capacity as risk managers and insurance buyers with regard to the Insurance Market and Institutions. For this purpose, it was decided to create an Advisory Council for the Board which will be formed by persons of renowned prestige in the Insurance and Risk Management Sectors. These would be retired persons, not connected to companies or not having any activity with third parties that could put in question the independence of their opinions. Prior to IGREA adopting a position or publishing an opinion, the Council will issue non-binding reports on those questions submitted to them by the Board.
The first panel, looking at Brexit, was moderated by Cristina San Sebastián and the speakers were Fernando Lasheras of Iberdrola, Antonio Irastorza of Lynx Advisors and Ignacio Almazán from RSA.
Under the title “Brexit: Challenges, opportunities and points for attention” the situation of change and uncertainty for the United Kingdom and European Union was highlighted, as well as for those organizations with relationships and interests in the UK. Nevertheless, as is the case for all situations of change, there will be not only risks but also opportunities.
Fernando Lasheras explained that Brexit signifies re-designing the existing relations of the United Kingdom with the European Union (EU). There are several options, although the fundamental point to be decided is whether the United Kingdom will continue to form part of the Internal Market or whether it will leave and negotiate a relationship similar to that of Switzerland. Fernando then compared data on energy and emissions of the United Kingdom with that of the EU. The impact of Brexit on the European energy sector and on policies for combating climate change will depend on the solutions agreed. Investment in energy in the United Kingdom will continue despite Brexit, driven by the need for modernization of its energy systems and by its ambitious domestic policy on decarbonisation.
Antonio Irastorza mentioned that the result of the referendum had been a surprise for all. It was a referendum that had not been organised by popular request but, on the initiative of the Prime minister, David Cameron, to unite his Tory party, and had turned into a vote of protest against him. The United Kingdom is a gate to the rest of the world, not only for the Commonwealth, and this is something that benefits both the UK and the EU. British pragmatism, its jurisprudence and the historical recognition of its way of doing things have been an asset for the entire EU. Whilst the negotiating positions are debated, there is great suspense regarding passports, free circulation of people and Customs.
Antonio referred to the fact that in the “City” of London, which is so important for the GDP of the United Kingdom, there is concern over the preservation of the international spirit of its activities. However, he believes that, in the long term, it will resurface as the financial centre since businessmen, bankers, consultants and businessmen from all over the world are comfortable there.
Ignacio Almazán said that, with regard to how Brexit can affect Spain, that the financial and insurance sector is very strong in Spain. There are more than 30 branches. It is hoped that the transition period will be the least negative as possible for all. With regards to his company, RSA, he mentioned that he does not think that it will affect them since they have subsidiaries in Scandinavia and Ireland through which branches could operate.
The second panel, titled “attitude to claims”, was moderated by Manuel Garrote, Risk Manager of OHL, and participated by José Ramón Morales, Director General of XL Catlin in Spain, David González, Risk Manager of Sacyr, Elías Rodriguez from the loss adjusters, Addvalora, and Alvaro Mengotti, Commercial General Manager of March-JLT. The panel dealt with a series of questions and answers and an intense debate was generated with audience participation. The following topics are worthy of mention:
- The importance of promoting a climate of confidence and transparency by all parties involved in the handling of claims.
- The need for clear commitment from insurers to their insureds that does not generate uncertainty with respect to cover for the claim.
- It was commented that risk managers perceive that, at times, there is not the same degree of interest during the claims handling process as there is for contracting the policy.
- It was highlighted that a positive and effective attitude of the insurer in dealing with claims converts the insured into the best “ambassador” for the Company.
- Insurers ask themselves whether, at the time of purchasing insurance, the insureds value those insurers that are providing better claims service or simply choose the most economic option.
- The impartiality of the expert appointed by the insurer was defended but everyone coincided on the need for the appointment of the insured’s adjuster.
- The appointment of a lawyer at the beginning of the claim was questioned when, in theory, there is no dispute. The counter-argument put forward was that the insurer does it with the intention of seeking the best experts in each area.
- The role of the broker in the mediation of the claim is essential. This is the big differentiating factor when comparing with the purely “placing” broker.
- One insurer affirmed that adjusters should limit their intervention on a claim to mere description and evaluation of the damage and not interpret the policy coverage.
Following on, Antonio de la Torre, Insurance Manager of Repsol, made a presentation entitled “A Strategic Approach to the Management of Financial and Industrial Risks in Repsol”.
He began with an interesting explanation of the fundamental variables of an integrated Company, such as Repsol, that has two clearly differentiated businesses, Upstream and Downstream. The volatile nature of the price of crude oil has a decisive influence on the Company´s value, both on its asset values and business interruption figures. This, logically, has a large impact on the values declared for insurance purposes and indemnity limits required.
He went on to outline the main features of the structure of their programmes, with very high limits and business interruption indemnity periods of up to 3 years. He also described the role played by their reinsurance captive (Gaviota) in these programmes.
The Conference was closed by Ana García Barona in representation of the Dirección General de Seguros (Insurance Directorate). She delivered a presentation on the latest insurance legislation which will be published on the IGREA website and facilitated to those companies that request it.
She defended the important role of lawyers on insurance matters and underlined the importance of Companies taking into account the fact that the adjuster is the “face of the Company” to the insured. She mentioned, also, that the Insurance Sector accounts for 3.5 % of the GDP.
She referred to the non-application of regulations on the protection of the insured against the insurer for large risks and to the scale used for indemnities in motor accidents which could be used as a reference for liability claims involving personal injury.
After expressing her gratitude to the President of IGREA, she also thanked all the participants for their contributions in making the Conference such a success with their attendance and participation.