Discovering how the large risk markets are evolving in both Latin America and in Spain, as well as the impact of reinsurance, or topics related to cybersecurity, the use of drones and the development of blockchain technology, for example, provided the perfect excuse for close to 500 risk managers – involved in a wide range of activities in 23 different countries – to come together for three days in Salamanca (Spain) in order to exchange their viewpoints, experiences and concerns. The forum chosen could be no other than the MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS international conference, this year celebrating its twenty-sixth edition.
TEXT JOAQUÍN HERNÁNDEZ | PHOTOS MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS
During this now traditional MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS event, Salamanca became the international center of the insurance industry, bringing together professionals from highly diverse markets to discuss the major challenges currently faced as regards the protection of large risks (the aeronautical or energy sectors, to name but two examples). These were analyzed from the perspectives of all the leading players, with the overriding emphasis being placed on the need for constant innovation. Innovation is precisely one of the factors that Antonio Huertas, the MAPFRE Chairman and CEO, stressed during the closing session.
“We are an industry constantly reinventing itself in order to deliver innovative solutions that cater to new market needs as they arise. Innovation is a quintessential feature of insurance, especially in companies like MAPFRE. This is something we have fully assimilated in our company. Indeed, in our new strategic plan, whose slogan is ‘We’re transforming for growth and improved profitability’, innovation helps us be a more agile, more advanced, more efficient company, while keeping the focus on the two main driving forces behind our activity: our clients and business profitability,” Antonio Huertas stressed.
This MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS International Conference, held in high regard by industry leaders, was divided into two panels, each dealing with a different theme: insurance and security. Regarding the former, discussions revolved around the evolution of such important large risk markets for MAPFRE’s business as Brazil, LATAM North and South – focusing on Mexico, Chile and Colombia – or Spain. The event included a round table specifically devoted to the importance of the quality of service in claims management. The trust of clients, adapting to the particularities of each market and an excellent, top-quality service are essential in a sector in which business ties are established on a very long-term basis.
The CEO of MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS, Bosco Francoy, charged with officially opening the event, emphasized this very point during the conference, namely that, regardless of the client’s size, insurance “must transcend the merely transactional relationship.” “At MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS we believe that close ties with our clients, offering flexibility when seeking solutions, and total commitment are fundamental qualities for establishing stable, long-term relationships. We are partners and their fortune is ours. We offer each other support in order to discover the new threats we are facing and thus seek joint solutions,” he stressed.
“At MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS we believe that close ties with our clients, offering flexibility when seeking solutions, and total commitment are fundamental qualities for establishing stable, long-term relationships”
The role of reinsurance in the management of large global risks is extremely important and, as a result, this called for a panel discussion in which MAPFRE RE, together with other top-flight reinsurers, outlined how this market is currently evolving.
In the sessions devoted to insurance there was no shortage of illustrative examples from several speakers, who set forth the influence in our everyday lives of many aspects most people are unaware of. A prime example is the way the risk of accidents affecting electrical cables running along the seabed is managed, given that they determine whether or not we can rely on a constant supply of electrical power. Something so vital… and yet unknown to many.
While all these round tables were going on, in another function room at the Hospedería Fonseca they were debating the most varied range of security issues. Some were habitual problems such as natural disasters, where the experience of the Spanish UME (Military Emergencies Unit) sparked tremendous interest. They explained how they manage to provide a coordinated, effective, swift response whenever the situation calls for their intervention.
“Innovation helps us be a more agile, more advanced, more efficient company, while keeping the focus on the two main driving forces behind our activity: our clients and business profitability”.
Along with these issues, the participants also addressed other topical questions such as the development of the blockchain as a new security paradigm. The use of innovative technologies applied to enhance security – for example, drones in the mining sector and virtual reality – were also present at this forum, along with the challenges faced by risk managers in, for instance, the energy sector.
Hearing first-hand the real problems faced by an insurer (or several co-insurers, given that they often share risks) in major infrastructure construction projects – some examples of major public works analyzed were the Lima metro in Peru or the Ruta del Cocoa highway in Colombia – enabled the insurers present to not only share experiences, but also solutions.
Award at the conference
This year, MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS created the International Risk Management Excellence Award to recognize the risk management and prevention culture. This biennial award aims to become a benchmark accolade within the large risks insurance industry. In this first edition, the winning company for the period 2017-2019 was RIU Hotels & Resorts (a company that started out as a small family-run vacation business in 1953 and today boasts 93 hotels in 19 countries). The jury highlighted the work, policies and culture of RIU Hotels & Resorts as regards managing, preventing and protecting against risks. Francisco Marco, chairman of MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS, and Bosco Francoy were chosen to present this award to the winner, announced at the end of the conference. On collecting the award, Rafael Fau, Risk Management VP at RIU, placed special emphasis on the total commitment of the whole company to risk management.
Francisco Marco, chairman of MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS, presents the International Risk Management Excellence Award to Rafael Fau, Risk Management VP of RIU Hotels and Resorts.
In fact, prevention was one of the overriding aspects throughout the conference and it was plainly evident that there exists growing awareness of the importance of the role of the risk manager in major enterprises. “Although it calls for considerable investment, prevention is always cost-effective. In MAPFRE GLOBAL RISKS we place extraordinary value on the culture of risk prevention and mitigation. This work is greatly appreciated by those policyholders who are well aware that effective prevention is fundamental for the long-term viability of their business,” Bosco Francoy underscored.
The emergence of new risks only highlights the need for prevention. A few years ago, an attack on a company’s database or distribution system was quite unimaginable, something one thought could only happen in movies, or to companies closely related to the security sector and handling highly sensitive information. Nowadays, we not only know that this is not the case, but reality has shown that any company is susceptible to a cyberattack. This situation, which is more frequent than we would all like to admit, is something companies must face up to and know what to do in order to safeguard not just their clients’ information, but all of their business data.
Firefighting defense competition
Within the context of this conference, albeit a few weeks beforehand, the now-traditional Firefighting Defense Competition was held. A total of 13 teams made up of both non-professional personnel and professional firefighters from different companies participated this year in a series of four tests replicating different firefighting scenarios. The participants were timed by a jury to see which team was able to extinguish the blaze in the shortest possible time. Two of them involved using a hose, while the other two were with extinguishers.
The aim of the competition is to demonstrate the skill of the fire prevention teams set up and trained by the various client companies of MAPFRE Global Risks, and to promote the prevention culture among enterprises. In addition, these tests provide a meeting place for exchanging different points of view and strategies as regards firefighting issues.