IUMI 2017 Preview

Technology Takes Center Stage in Tokyo

IUMI’s annual meeting in September will offer a rare glimpse into local markets.
By: | August 30, 2017 • 4 min read
Topics: Marine | Underwriting

The official theme of the International Union of Maritime Insurers (IUMI) annual meeting in Tokyo September 16-21 is “Disruptive Times – Opportunity or Threat for Marine Insurers?” and one key focus will be on technology issues, including cyber threats and Big Data. But the conference will also be an opportunity to see the Japanese market from the inside, a perspective that few international underwriters and brokers have.

Lars Lange, secretary general, IUMI

“In the Tokyo market there are not many foreign insurers,” said Lars Lange, secretary general for IUMI, “but Japanese insurers are very active in the rest of the world. There was a concern after the massive Fukushima earthquake in 2011, everyone expected massive losses. But that is not a problem though; the national market in Japan is fairly balanced. They write and cover it locally.”

In terms of cargo premium, Japan is the second or third largest market in the world, Lange noted. Underwriters seeking to enter the market would do well to consider their core competency. “Is it coverage and claims, is it technology, is it distribution?” Lange asked.

“Insurers have to deal with their own business first, and then extend that to their customers,” he continued. “It is especially the case in marine insurance what clients need from us is risk assessment, loss prevention, and identification of emerging threats. Every company struggles with cyber threats. This is an area where we can do a great service to our clients.”

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There is still a lot of ground to cover, even for the bigger companies, in areas like the Internet of Things and Big Data. There is a lot to be learned,” Lange said. “Once ways of addressing that are put in place, then that can be recognized in the premiums. The more precise your knowledge of risk the better you are able to allocate capacity at the appropriate price.”

Lange related an instance of how technology is changing both the operational realities of the maritime industry, and also the way operators and underwriters are responding to risks.

“I spoke to the chief executive officer of a major classification company, and he told me that one operator acquired a 3D printer and a supply of metal powder to provide spare parts aboard a ship.”

How well that will work in the rigors of shipboard operations, and if it lowers repair costs or boosts efficiency remain to be seen. But Lange sees an inevitable trend. “It is not unlikely that developments like this will only accelerate.”

 “It is especially the case in marine insurance what clients need from us is risk assessment, loss prevention, and identification of emerging threats.” — Lars Lange, secretary general, IUMI

The conference starts with members-only committee meetings on Sunday. They are not open to general attendees, but Lange said he does not expect there to be any major or contentious issues discussed. The first-timers’ reception and welcome reception that evening are open to all.

On Monday morning is the president’s address to the plenary session, a state of the union report to all delegates and the industry. “Dieter Berg will give his view on the industry,” said Lange. Another highlight of Monday morning will be the annual facts and figures presentation with data on growth and claims, along with the macro-economic outlook from the chairman of the Facts & Figures Committee.

Monday afternoon the macro view turns to the future with the cargo workshop. That will focus on the economic outlook for the maritime industry. Topics to be addressed in the workshop include specialized cargo markets, freight-forwarder liability insurance, and smart logistics. There will be a press release with key findings which Lange added, “is always extremely interesting.”

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Tuesday afternoon will include the ocean hull workshop, and separately the legal and liabilities session. A main topic in the latter will be the bankruptcy of the big Korean containership line Hanjin last year, but also consolidation among Asian container-ship lines including operators from Japan, Korea, and China.

“We will get the view directly from the coal face,” said Lange. There are also likely to be discussions about new marine bunker fuel and emissions rules.

Wednesday morning, the loss-prevention workshop “always has good thinking,” said Lange. “It’s a great workshop. There will be discussion of weather risk management, also the Internet of Things and topics like blockchain technology in cargo, cyber, and data analytics.”

Wednesday ends with the “Japan Evening,” and the event closes with a meeting of the new executive committee on Thursday morning.

Gregory DL Morris is an independent business journalist based in New York with 25 years’ experience in industry, energy, finance and transportation. He can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]