Service Spotlight: Multinational

8 Questions for Dawn Miller

An insurance executive shares how foreign companies can overcome the unique challenges facing an expansion into the U.S.
By: | April 2, 2018 • 5 min read

The United States is widely considered the land of opportunity for a reason. Many international companies recognize the benefits of staking their claim in the U.S. market, but the regulatory and insurance landscape can make the move challenging. In this Q&A, AXA Insurance Company CEO Dawn Miller discusses the unique risks facing inbound firms, and how insurers can ease the transition.


R&I: Why is 2018 a particularly attractive time to expand into the U.S.?

Dawn Miller: The U.S. has always represented a good opportunity for foreign firms because of the size of the market — in 2016, the U.S. attracted $3.7 trillion in foreign direct investment. But there are a few trends that make this year a particularly good time to make an international move. For one, unemployment is at record lows and the economy remains on a slow but steady upward trajectory.

There’s also the potential for recent regulatory and tax reforms to foster domestic manufacturing and ease international trade. Additionally, Chambers of Commerce across the U.S. are always seeking to pull in new businesses by offering a variety of services and incentives.

R&I: What sectors or markets are most attractive right now?

DM: Most foreign investment in the U.S. is focused on the middle market. According to the National Center for the Middle Market, this segment reported a 7.6 percent revenue growth in the fourth quarter of 2017 over the previous year and represents the third-largest global economy. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that manufacturing attracts the most investment dollars by far.

According to the National Center for the Middle Market, this segment reported a 7.6 percent revenue growth in the fourth quarter of 2017 over the previous year and represents the third-largest global economy.

R&I: What are the business risks these companies might face when expanding to the U.S.?

DM: Regulatory compliance is a challenge because there is a mix of federal, state and local law to contend with, and state and local ordinances can vary widely. You have to know your jurisdiction. There may be different tax codes, different financial reporting procedures, differences in employment law, and so forth. Not complying with those requirements can open up any company to massive legal liability exposure.

Duty of care is another commonly overlooked obligation. If a foreign firm is sending employees to the U.S. to get a new business or branch up and running, how will they protect those workers so far from home? There must be procedures and resources in place to provide care if or when it’s needed.

Language barriers amplify those risks. Lack of effective communication or understanding only increases the likelihood that something will be missed. The due diligence aspect of expanding into a new country is quite significant.

And on top of the commercial risks, there’s also insurance risk.

R&I: What are the biggest insurance and risk management risks?

DM: The biggest risk is assuming that a domestic policy will cover you abroad. Coverage may not extend beyond the borders of the issuing country, and even if it does, your jurisdiction in the U.S. may require different limits or broader coverage.

There are different risk transfer mechanisms, and firms have to re-examine what structure or approach will benefit them most and keep while keeping them in compliance.

Differences in contract terminology can also affect how a foreign policy will be interpreted in the U.S. Definitions of admitted versus non-admitted may vary in the U.S. from a European market. Self-insured retentions and deductibles may offer different advantages and disadvantages. There are different risk transfer mechanisms, and firms have to re-examine what structure or approach will benefit them most and keep while keeping them in compliance.


Policy wording can create confusion as well. What’s the difference between “business interruption” and “loss of use”? What is the difference between your equipment “replacement cost” versus “insurable value?” There are many technicalities to work through.

R&I: How should companies prioritize and tackle the due diligence work?

DM: Given that many international firms looking to expand into the U.S. are mid-size companies, addressing both the commercial and insurance risks is a big demand on their limited resources. And what usually happens is that risk management is relegated to the placing of insurance, and it drops down on the priority list. With so many other operational challenges to overcome, the due diligence team wants to get coverage in place and get it done quickly so they can move forward. So they buy a policy and check the “insurance” box.

But this misses a vital opportunity to leverage domestic risk management resources that can help them address both the business and insurance risks they’re facing.

R&I: How can incoming international firms get connected to the right local resources?

DM: U.S.-based insurers should be able to connect their clients with the best local resources. AXA Insurance Company has several domestic partners who can help international companies understand and mitigate their exposures. To protect physical assets, such as properties, equipment and supply chains, we work with AXA Matrix. AXA Matrix is a risk engineering firm that can help companies evaluate the value of their assets and their level of exposure, and suggest ways to mitigate it beyond just buying more coverage.

To protect employees, we partner with AXA Assistance. They provide security alerts and travel tips, and can facilitate medical care for employees abroad by leveraging a global network of fully vetted medical providers. They make fulfilling duty-of-care obligations streamlined and straightforward.

Adopting an ERM framework can help even companies that run lean to anticipate the hazards they might encounter with any given opportunity.

At the end of the day, the carriers that provide the best service for a company’s most important assets will build the long-lasting relationships that support continued growth. We’ve built an on-the-ground support network for companies once they land in the U.S., so they know who to turn to when they have questions.


R&I: What else should inbound companies do from a risk management perspective?

DM: Risk management should be built into any business’s strategic decision-making. Insurance is only one part of that. Adopting an ERM framework can help even companies that run lean to anticipate the hazards they might encounter with any given opportunity. Technology has a role to play here. Platforms that connect and streamline internal functions can facilitate communication and make sure every department has input on strategic decisions. Everyone has a different perspective, and an interdisciplinary approach to decision-making can uncover both potential problems and innovative ways to address them.

R&I: While we know you are focused on helping international companies come to the U.S., what is your favorite international destination to travel to?

DM: I have been fortunate to travel and reside in quite a few countries around the world. I have a soft spot for places like South Africa, Dubai and Istanbul but London is my favorite city. I find London to be the epicenter of global trade and culture. &

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

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Risk Management

The Profession

As a professor of business, Jack Hampton knows firsthand the positive impact education has on risk managers as they tackle growing risks.
By: | April 9, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Ellen Thrower, president (retired), The College of Insurance, introduced me to the importance of insurance as a component of risk management. Further, she encouraged me to explore strategic and operational risk as foundation topics shaping the role of the modern risk manager.

Chris Mandel, former president of RIMS and Risk Manager of the Year, introduced me to the emerging area of enterprise risk management. He helped me recognize the need to align hazard, strategic, operational and financial risk into a single framework. He gave me the perspective of ERM in a high-tech environment, using USAA as a model program that later won an excellence award for innovation.

Bob Morrell, founder and former CEO of Riskonnect, showed me how technology could be applied to solving serious risk management and governance problems. He created a platform that made some of my ideas practical and extended them into a highly-successful enterprise that served risk and governance management needs of major corporations.

R&I: How did you come to work in this industry?


From a background in corporate finance and commercial banking, I accepted the position of provost of The College of Insurance. Recognizing my limited prior knowledge in the field, I became a student of insurance and risk management leading to authorship of books on hazard and financial risk. This led to industry consulting, as well as to the development of graduate-level courses and concentrations in MBA programs.

R&I: What was your first job?

The provost position was the first job I had in the industry, after serving as dean of the Seton Hall University School of Business and founding The Princeton Consulting Group. Earlier positions were in business development with Marine Transport Lines, consulting in commercial banking and college professorships.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Creating a risk management concentration in the MBA program at Saint Peter’s, co-founding the Russian Risk Management Society (RUSRISK), and writing “Fundamentals of Enterprise Risk Management” and the “AMA Handbook of Financial Risk Management.”

A few years ago, I expanded into risk management in higher education. From 2017 into 2018, Rowman and Littlefield published my four books that address risks facing colleges and universities, professors, students and parents.

Jack Hampton, Professor of Business, St. Peter’s University

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

The Godfather. I see it as a story of managing risk, even as the behavior of its leading characters create risk for others.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Jameson’s Irish whiskey. Mixed with a little ice, it is a serious rival for Johnny Walker Gold scotch and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Mount Etna, Taormina, and Agrigento, Sicily. I actually supervised an MBA program in Siracusa and learned about risk from a new perspective.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?


Army Airborne training and jumping out of an airplane. Fortunately, I never had to do it in combat even though I served in Vietnam.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

George C. Marshall, one of the most decorated military leaders in American history, architect of the economic recovery program for Europe after World War II, and recipient of the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize. For Marshall, it was not just about winning the war. It was also about winning the peace.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

Sharing lessons with colleagues and students by writing, publishing and teaching. A professor with a knowledge of risk management does not only share lessons. The professor is also a student when MBA candidates talk about the risks they manage every day.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

Sensitizing for-profit, nonprofit and governmental agencies to the exposures and complexities facing their organizations. Sometimes we focus too much on strategies that sound good but do not withstand closer examination. Risk managers help organizations make better decisions.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?


Developing executive training programs to help risk managers assume C-suite positions in organizations. Insurance may be a good place to start but so is an MBA degree. The Risk and Insurance Management Society recognizes the importance of a wide range of risk knowledge. Colleges and universities need to catch up with RIMS.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

Cyber risk and its impact on hazard, operational and financial strategies. A terrorist can take down a building. A cyber-criminal can take down much more.

R&I: What does your family think you do?

My family members think I’m a professor. They do not seem to be too interested in my views on risk management.

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]