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Winning at home and abroad

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Protecting people and balance sheets from the risks of operating in a region far from homeā€¦the challenge for companies pursuing geographical expansion and getting the right insurance cover in place.

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We love to see our clients win business, after all, when our clients win, we win.  Thankfully, with a rebound in the global economic environment, our clients are winning more and more frequently and winning in countries in which they have not previously competed.

So once the champagne corks have been popped and the contract-win celebrations are over, risk management and insurance arrangements must be dutifully addressed. 

Let’s take as a means of example a European construction firm which has just won a substantial contract for a large infrastructure project in a Latin American country in which it has not previously operated.   In order for the firm to protect its people and balance sheet from the risks of operating in a region far from home, the firm must navigate insurance marketplaces of disparate maturity, new cross-border operational risks and a rapidly expanding, ever-changing and unfathomably complex web of local, provincial, national and international insurance, labour, tax and environmental regulations.

Consider environmental regulation for instance. Thirty years ago there were only several hundred environmental regulations in place around the world with most applicable only to the United States. Today, there are approximately 17,000 environmental regulations across the world and ensuring compliance for each of the firm’s operations across the territories in which it operates is no small order. But it is  entirely necessary to negate any potential environmental, financial and reputational damage an environmental event may present.

As those of us who have been working on Global Programs for many years can attest, geographical expansion in risk exposure and regulation around the globe continues to challenge clients, brokers and carriers alike.  This is not just for traditional property and casualty covers but across multiple product lines including; property, casualty, marine cargo, professional liability, travel and accident, war, terrorism & political violence, aviation, product recall, environmental and surety. The list goes on.

In order to satisfy these ever-evolving and increasing risk, regulatory and marketplace demands going forward, multinational insurance programs must be adapted, especially as European and North American businesses operate more deeply in developing regions across Latin America, Asia and Africa.

So, what are the necessary adaptations?  

Localisation, Localisation, Localisation

Localisation of a larger and larger portion of global insurance program covers and limits is expected to become necessary in order to meet the growing demands of local marketplace conditions and regulations.  More specifically, the market is seeing a requirement for much higher local limits. Where USD 1m of locally evidenced cover may have satisfied municipalities for infrastructure projects historically, more and more municipalities require liability limits of at least USD 10m or more (unlimited in some instances).

In ten years of managing insurance programs for mainly international companies, including many within the Fortune 500, I have seen a steady growth in the spread and complexity of cover requirements in emerging markets and I fully expect the trend to accelerate.  I’ve already seen an increase in the proportion of XL Group’s Global Programs clients with one or more policies in Asia and Latin America – the proportion continues to increase.

Risk Managers as Change Agents

The pace of regulatory change is having a huge impact on the risk community and on risk professionals. Multinational risk managers, brokers and underwriters will be forced to become, if they have not done so already, highly proficient change-agents; continually adapting their insurance programs to satisfy the ever-evolving demands in risk, regulation and the marketplace.

Global Program Architects

Clearly, insurers serious about accompanying their clients into new territories will need a deep pool of talent who can design and manage policies with a global architecture.  All essential information must flow onto their desks, with programs implemented and tracked on a global basis.

Here, recruiting and retaining talent is central. Insurance is a talent driven business and success for an insurance company means operating in a way that attracts, retains and builds the best talent possible.  Increasingly this means providing a flexible operating platform, understanding changes brought by technology and utilizing superior data and tools to underwrite and manage risks.

At XL Group we have a Global Programs Center of Excellence which enables efficient collaboration and communication across product lines and businesses.

Knowing, understanding and anticipating all of this global change is what is needed if the insurance industry wants to be seen as a key part of a winning team. Supporting our clients to drive their business forward is our key aim and for that we need the right data, and the right people in the right places, armed with the right tools.

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