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Sponsored: AXA Insurance Company

Facilitating Entry for Foreign Firms

The U.S. market offers growth opportunity for firms seeking expansion.
By: | February 20, 2018 • 5 min read

When it comes to successfully expanding a business into a new market, two critical factors usually stand out above a myriad of challenges: Opportunity and timing.

The U.S. marketplace has long represented great opportunity for global businesses. According to the Organization for International Investment, the United States was the world’s top target for foreign direct investment in 2016, attracting $3.7 trillion — and much of that attention was focused on the middle market. According to the National Center for the Middle Market, this U.S. 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.

As for timing, a confluence of factors could make 2018 a year rich with opportunity for international firms to enter the U.S. market. The economy remains on a steady upward trajectory as unemployment continues to fall, and recent tax and regulatory reform could potentially foster domestic manufacturing and global trade. In addition, chambers of commerce are actively seeking to pull in international firms with a variety of incentives and services.

“The year ahead will offer a lot of growth opportunity for international companies looking to gain their foothold in the U.S.,” said Dawn Miller, CEO, AXA Insurance Company.

But for all the potential the U.S. market represents to an international firm, successful entry is not simple or easy. Companies need expertise to navigate the operational, commercial, regulatory and financial challenges to a successful U.S. launch.

Managing Commercial, Regulatory and Insurance Risk

Dawn Miller, CEO, AXA Insurance Company

Once strategic decisions are made related to how best to expand into the U.S., whether through acquisition or organic growth, a host of additional challenges remain.

For one, a web of federal, state and local regulations awaits businesses crossing the border. Deciphering jurisdictional differences in tax codes and employment law; determining duty of care obligations; properly valuing physical assets —these are just some of the key commercial risks presented by any international expansion.

“How do you employ your workers abroad and keep them safe? Do you know the proper accounting and financial reporting methods in the U.S.? Where do your liabilities begin and end with contractors? The due diligence work is significant to ensure compliance,” Miller said.

Inbound companies also have insurance-specific hurdles to contend with, including critical differences in contract vernacular. Definitions of admitted verses non-admitted may vary in the U.S. from a European market. Self-insured retentions and deductibles may offer different advantages and disadvantages. Business interruption versus “loss of use” may not be clearly delineated.

No multinational company can assume that their domestic policies work the same way in another country, or will cover operations outside of the issuing jurisdiction. It comes down not just to intricacies of policy wording, but also to coverage limits required by law.

“There are different risk transfer mechanisms from market to market,” Miller said. “Not having a firm grasp on those variances can leave incoming companies either under-insured or with unnecessary coverage overlaps.”

But for new entrants to the U.S. market, getting a handle on both the commercial risks and insurance discrepancies is a mammoth demand on resources — especially for mid-size companies that run lean. As a result, insurance and risk management often get lumped together and sometimes fall to the bottom of the due diligence checklist.

While getting coverage in place quickly can check the “insurance” box, it misses a valuable opportunity to leverage the risk expertise of domestic carriers to tackle broader business risks as well.

Facilitating a Soft Landing for Inbound Business

“There’s a stronger role that risk management and insurance can play to allay the challenges and fears of foreign companies entering the U.S.,” Miller said. “The right insurer will bring transparency to an experience that can feel very opaque and help to create a soft landing.”

U.S.-based insurers who are proactive about getting risk management resources in front of companies can help international entities navigate both commercial and insurance-related risks.

AXA Insurance Company acts as a true partner in risk management by leveraging the resources of its U.S.-based teams as well as AXA Group’s global network.

“Our in-house claims and underwriting teams are dedicated to facilitating entry for companies coming into the U.S. market, and they’ve been doing it for 40 years,” Miller said.

AXA’s underwriters also come with expertise in property, marine, aviation and liability coverages. With more than 200 years of collective experience, they’ve developed a deep understanding of the needs specific to those companies transitioning to the U.S. market. The manufacturing, technology, and food and fashion industries are currently the top candidates looking to expand to the U.S. mid-market sector.

“Everything that we do is industry-focused. We have the technology, the data, and the breadth of AXA Group’s research capabilities to follow our clients’ industries on a granular level.”

Solutions + Services: The Whole Package

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.

“Insurance is only one piece of the puzzle,” Miller said. “We partner with all of the necessary third parties to create a comprehensive, one-stop-shop risk management solution.”

It does this in part by calling on its partners AXA Matrix and AXA Assistance.

AXA Matrix is a risk engineering firm that can help foreign companies strengthen and protect physical assets like properties and supply chains. AXA Assistance, a travel assistance provider, helps companies protect their most vital resource — their people.

“European countries have a duty of care for their employees working abroad,” Miller said. “Let’s make sure you have those protections here in the U.S. so you can honor those responsibilities.”

Both AXA Matrix and AXA Assistance are U.S.-based, so they can provide on-the-ground support.

“That domestic network of support is what helps companies not only start their business here, but grow their business here,” Miller said.

To learn more About AXA Insurance Company, visit http://axainsurancecompany.com/AboutUs.aspx.

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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with AXA Insurance Company. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




AXA Insurance Company (AIC), part of AXA’s international network, provides US insurance and risk management solutions to large and mid-sized companies.

Cyber Resilience

No, Seriously. You Need a Comprehensive Cyber Incident Response Plan Before It’s Too Late.

Awareness of cyber risk is increasing, but some companies may be neglecting to prepare adequate response plans that could save them millions. 
By: | June 1, 2018 • 7 min read

To minimize the financial and reputational damage from a cyber attack, it is absolutely critical that businesses have a cyber incident response plan.

“Sadly, not all yet do,” said David Legassick, head of life sciences, tech and cyber, CNA Hardy.

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In the event of a breach, a company must be able to quickly identify and contain the problem, assess the level of impact, communicate internally and externally, recover where possible any lost data or functionality needed to resume business operations and act quickly to manage potential reputational risk.

This can only be achieved with help from the right external experts and the design and practice of a well-honed internal response.

The first step a company must take, said Legassick, is to understand its cyber exposures through asset identification, classification, risk assessment and protection measures, both technological and human.

According to Raf Sanchez, international breach response manager, Beazley, cyber-response plans should be flexible and applicable to a wide range of incidents, “not just a list of consecutive steps.”

They also should bring together key stakeholders and specify end goals.

Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions

With bad actors becoming increasingly sophisticated and often acting in groups, attack vectors can hit companies from multiple angles simultaneously, meaning a holistic approach is essential, agreed Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions.

“Collaboration is key — you have to take silos down and work in a cross-functional manner.”

This means assembling a response team including individuals from IT, legal, operations, risk management, HR, finance and the board — each of whom must be well drilled in their responsibilities in the event of a breach.

“You can’t pick your players on the day of the game,” said Hogg. “Response times are critical, so speed and timing are of the essence. You should also have a very clear communication plan to keep the CEO and board of directors informed of recommended courses of action and timing expectations.”

People on the incident response team must have sufficient technical skills and access to critical third parties to be able to make decisions and move to contain incidents fast. Knowledge of the company’s data and network topology is also key, said Legassick.

“Perhaps most important of all,” he added, “is to capture in detail how, when, where and why an incident occurred so there is a feedback loop that ensures each threat makes the cyber defense stronger.”

Cyber insurance can play a key role by providing a range of experts such as forensic analysts to help manage a cyber breach quickly and effectively (as well as PR and legal help). However, the learning process should begin before a breach occurs.

Practice Makes Perfect

“Any incident response plan is only as strong as the practice that goes into it,” explained Mike Peters, vice president, IT, RIMS — who also conducts stress testing through his firm Sentinel Cyber Defense Advisors.

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Unless companies have an ethical hacker or certified information security officer on board who can conduct sophisticated simulated attacks, Peters recommended they hire third-party experts to test their networks for weaknesses, remediate these issues and retest again for vulnerabilities that haven’t been patched or have newly appeared.

“You need to plan for every type of threat that’s out there,” he added.

Hogg agreed that bringing third parties in to conduct tests brings “fresh thinking, best practice and cross-pollination of learnings from testing plans across a multitude of industries and enterprises.”

“Collaboration is key — you have to take silos down and work in a cross-functional manner.” — Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions

Legassick added that companies should test their plans at least annually, updating procedures whenever there is a significant change in business activity, technology or location.

“As companies expand, cyber security is not always front of mind, but new operations and territories all expose a company to new risks.”

For smaller companies that might not have the resources or the expertise to develop an internal cyber response plan from whole cloth, some carriers offer their own cyber risk resources online.

Evan Fenaroli, an underwriting product manager with the Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY), said his company hosts an eRiskHub, which gives PHLY clients a place to start looking for cyber event response answers.

That includes access to a pool of attorneys who can guide company executives in creating a plan.

“It’s something at the highest level that needs to be a priority,” Fenaroli said. For those just getting started, Fenaroli provided a checklist for consideration:

  • Purchase cyber insurance, read the policy and understand its notice requirements.
  • Work with an attorney to develop a cyber event response plan that you can customize to your business.
  • Identify stakeholders within the company who will own the plan and its execution.
  • Find outside forensics experts that the company can call in an emergency.
  • Identify a public relations expert who can be called in the case of an event that could be leaked to the press or otherwise become newsworthy.

“When all of these things fall into place, the outcome is far better in that there isn’t a panic,” said Fenaroli, who, like others, recommends the plan be tested at least annually.

Cyber’s Physical Threat

With the digital and physical worlds converging due to the rise of the Internet of Things, Hogg reminded companies: “You can’t just test in the virtual world — testing physical end-point security is critical too.”

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How that testing is communicated to underwriters should also be a key focus, said Rich DePiero, head of cyber, North America, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

Don’t just report on what went well; it’s far more believable for an underwriter to hear what didn’t go well, he said.

“If I hear a client say it is perfect and then I look at some of the results of the responses to breaches last year, there is a disconnect. Help us understand what you learned and what you worked out. You want things to fail during these incident response tests, because that is how we learn,” he explained.

“Bringing in these outside firms, detailing what they learned and defining roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident is really the best practice, and we are seeing more and more companies do that.”

Support from the Board

Good cyber protection is built around a combination of process, technology, learning and people. While not every cyber incident needs to be reported to the boardroom, senior management has a key role in creating a culture of planning and risk awareness.

David Legassick, head of life sciences, tech and cyber, CNA Hardy

“Cyber is a boardroom risk. If it is not taken seriously at boardroom level, you are more than likely to suffer a network breach,” Legassick said.

However, getting board buy-in or buy-in from the C-suite is not always easy.

“C-suite executives often put off testing crisis plans as they get in the way of the day job. The irony here is obvious given how disruptive an incident can be,” said Sanchez.

“The C-suite must demonstrate its support for incident response planning and that it expects staff at all levels of the organization to play their part in recovering from serious incidents.”

“What these people need from the board is support,” said Jill Salmon, New York-based vice president, head of cyber/tech/MPL, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance.

“I don’t know that the information security folks are looking for direction from the board as much as they are looking for support from a resources standpoint and a visibility standpoint.

“They’ve got to be aware of what they need and they need to have the money to be able to build it up to that level,” she said.

Without that support, according to Legassick, failure to empower and encourage the IT team to manage cyber threats holistically through integration with the rest of the organization, particularly risk managers, becomes a common mistake.

He also warned that “blame culture” can prevent staff from escalating problems to management in a timely manner.

Collaboration and Communication

Given that cyber incident response truly is a team effort, it is therefore essential that a culture of collaboration, preparation and practice is embedded from the top down.

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One of the biggest tripping points for companies — and an area that has done the most damage from a reputational perspective — is in how quickly and effectively the company communicates to the public in the aftermath of a cyber event.

Salmon said of all the cyber incident response plans she has seen, the companies that have impressed her most are those that have written mock press releases and rehearsed how they are going to respond to the media in the aftermath of an event.

“We have seen so many companies trip up in that regard,” she said. “There have been examples of companies taking too long and then not explaining why it took them so long. It’s like any other crisis — the way that you are communicating it to the public is really important.” &

Antony Ireland is a London-based financial journalist. He can be reached at [email protected] Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]