The East Asian Insurance Congress (EAIC) 2022--Diamond Jubilee opened yesterday, marking the return of the organization's conference that was pushed back due to COVID-19 in 2020.
This year’s theme is "Cutting a multifaceted, clear vision for the industry". The programme has been designed to address the qualities of a diamond – cut, colour, carat and clarity, representing the various relevant aspects that the industry must consider.
In his welcome address at the virtual conference, EAIC president Allan Santos reiterated the aim of the Congress as one of furthering and developing international collaboration amongst insurance practitioners in the region. With an important milestone as the Diamond Jubilee, this edition of EAIC also takes place amidst several radical changes that have affected the industry.
“Climate change, COVID-19 and digitalization, just to name a few. Even today, we continue to experience transformations and disruptions as they affect us and the insurance public,” he said. “Our industry has survived countless challenges over the years. I am certain we will continue to weather the difficulties of the day with resilience and unity,” Mr. Santos said.
Mindful of the legacy of cooperation that the Congress started when the organization was founded in 1962, Mr. Santos said that EAIC must continue to play an important role in providing a forum for industry players, for constructive exchanges and dialogue, to understand the challenges that confront the industry and discuss solutions to surpass them.
He said, “We will explore how the insurance industry is poised to evolve in the coming years, especially after the difficult two years under a global pandemic,” he said. “We will look into the consumer mindset, competition, technology, climate risks, as well as the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, key areas that (re)insurers must address to stay relevant and strong, ready to face current and tomorrow’s headwinds.”
Making the future sustainable
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance honorary advisor Takeo Inokuchi, the conference's keynote speaker, noted that the number of countries or territories participating in the EAIC has expanded to 23, highlighting the increasing value and scale of the Congress, and how it contributes to the penetration and spread of insurance in the region.
“The sound development of insurance is essential to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, which have become global goals geared toward a sustainable society,” he said, during his keynote address. “In particular, I am referring to Goal One ‘no poverty’, Goal Three ‘good health and well-being’, Goal Nine ‘industry, innovation and infrastructure’, and Goal 11 ‘sustainable cities and communities’.”
With these goals in mind, he said that the EAIC’s ability to promote a cross-border exchange of knowledge and personal interaction is extremely important and significant.
He spoke of the many changes in the world since he began in the insurance industry in 1965, including the development of the automobile industry and its associated insurance, as well as the increasing use of satellites that the insurance industry has also adopted.
“I believe that insurance companies have responded appropriately to the needs of society by responding sensitively to the emergence and recognition of new risks, developing new insurance, and promoting its use,” he said. “It is also noteworthy that newly developed digital technology such as the Internet, and even drones, has begun to be used for insurance sales, insurance contract management, accident response, and insurance payment.”
But as customers become more familiar with these methods of commerce, they will begin to demand more from insurance companies and its affiliated services. Thus, the industry must quickly respond to these demands.
“Looking at it this way, I believe that insurance and the insurance business must undergo revolutionary changes,” he said. “We cannot sit back and wait for our industry to slowly disappear. In a nutshell, we must become a provider of risk management services.”
“Recognizing risks, predicting the damage and losses that risks may bring, creating and providing measures to eliminate or reduce those risks, and even providing insurance to cover the eventual manifestation of risks and the resulting damages and losses. I believe that the mission of an insurance company must be to provide these series of services,” he said.
Russia-Ukraine War and COVID-19
Topical issues like the Russia-Ukraine War and the COVID-19 pandemic riveted the attention of participants at yesterday's session.
Moody's Analytics chief APAC economist, Mr. Steve Cochrane, speaking of the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on Asia, said that compared to Europe, North America and Latin America, the Asian region is a mixed bag with a lot of strength. However, he added, "Our forecast for 2023 is that many of the fast-growing economies in the region will likely see a slowdown in GDP."
Commenting on the lingering effects of COVID-19, Peak Re chief economist Clarence Wong said that there are major changes going on around the world, including changes in the supply chain, government policies and also in terms of digitalization. The future, he said, will not be influenced by these changes alone, as there are other multiple factors affecting consumer behaviour as well as economic performance and these include military conflicts, geopolitical tensions and other socio-economic events. "We have to consider all of these to see what the future will look like and we need to take a see-through approach in order to understand the impact on consumers and societies in order to realize opportunities," he said.
The sponsors of the two-day EAIC diamond anniversary conference include Fubon Life, Insurance Institute for Asia and the Pacific, Inc, Korean Re, Moody's Analytics, Peak Re, and Swiss Re. Asia Insurance Review serves as event manager and official media of the conference.