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Even insurance execs can be underinsured

Christian Mumenthaler, Swiss Re’s CEO of reinsurance, waved expansively. “Just look at us around the table.” At the media briefing after Swiss Re’s Insurance Outlook Breakfast, he took a moment on his trip to Toronto for some Hamlet-esque self-reflection. “Maybe we are even uninsured in some ways, even though we work in this industry. … Even we think it’s a hassle to deal with insurance and change insurance. Oh my God, if I think about that, right, I get the creeps.”

Mumenthaler, a native Swiss, is the type of guy who would know the tiny details of just who is uninsured—it’s not every insurance top dog who has a PhD from the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biophysics in Zurich. So when wondering why 85 percent of Californians don’t have earthquake coverage, Mumenthaler can discuss a lack of trust in the industry and lack of education.

Eventually, he sees a day when an app on his iPhone chirps, “Christian, I scanned the net this morning … and I can see we can have the household insurance for $400 less for you for the whole year. Do you want me to change this?” Tech that will cancel your policy for you. Tech that can fill out questionnaires. Most importantly, tech that will scan and compare, melting those feelings of consumer powerlessness. “If all [the] hurdles are lowered,” Mumenthaler’s expectations are that more people will take out coverage.

He admits this seismic change is likely to show up only in a decade, but in the meantime, insurers can look to emerging markets. The ones in Canada, the States and Europe are building at a rather ho-hum two percent a year. Emerging markets, on the other hand, are expected to grow by 10 to 12 percent for the next 15 years. “There is a very big opportunity there, and I think it explains why insurance companies are looking into Asia, into Latin America for the future.”
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Copyright 2015 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the April 2015 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P.
Transcontinental Media G.P.