Maligayang Pagdasig!! Apologies for my poor tagalog but what I meant to say “Welcome”. I’m sorry I can’t be with you on the occassion of CLIMBS’ 43rd Annual General Meeting. I have very fond memories of my two visits to CLIMBS’ Head Office in Cagayan de Oro, in Mindanao. In the late 1990’s and the work we did with Fermin L. Gonzales towards a business plan for the cooperative insurance sector in the Philippines. So it is with immense pride that I speak to you today, Now, a CEO of ICMIF.
As I reflect on the last two decades about being with ICMIF, and the changes we seen in our sector, we can collectively be immensely proud of what we have achieved. Let’s look at the fact. Our sector today represents 27% of the global insurance market by premiums. Only 6 years ago, this was 23%. So we are the fastest growing part of the global insurance market having grown by 34% of the last 6 years compared with our 11% growth in the global market. This, I believe reflects the excellent businesses that ICMIF members are and the outstanding leaders we have. I think it also reflects a new-found purpose for our sector to bring values-based strategies back to mainstream insurance business.
In the micro insurance market, ICMIF members collectively represent over 100 million policy holders which is a ninth of the total 915 million people of the mutual insurance sector collectively services. So we are no longer seen as niche market players but as mainstream and a vital part of the insurance sector that adds diversity to our industry. The new-found importance of mutual and cooperative sector is being recognized at the highest levels of global policy making. As ICMIF continues to make in loads in its new influence in the strategy, with many of the agencies of the United Nations and World Bank.
I increasingly find myself telling stories about the wonderful people in the Philippines. Their resilience in the face of horrendous natural disasters and the heroic way they serve their members, helping them when their lives and livelihoods are in shatters. This month, I spoke at the U.N.I.S.D.R world conference for disaster risk and resilience on how we might integrate risk into the financial system. Again, the Philippines’ case study is vital in bringing the story to life for the various UN agencies that are not in touch with the reality. The newly-signed HYOGO Framework for action 2 outlines how communities, cities and countries can become more resilient if they work together. The “Work Together” part now includes public, private and mutual partnerships. This is true recognition of the value of the mutual sector brings to protecting lives and livelihoods both on the global macro level and the micro level that CLIMBS deal on a daily basis. The next part is to ensure the agreements is properly implemented.
I read with interest the report titled “Aiding the disaster recovery process; the effectiveness of micro insurance providers response to Typhoon Haiyan.” That was co-written by our friend John Wipf and launched last month. This report really highlights the vital role of CLIMBS and CARD MBA playing in protecting lives and livelihoods of their members who are generally the poorest society. In my view, it really shows the reason why microinsurance is better delivered via cooperative business such as CLIMBS. Here are the few quotes I pulled from the report in case you haven’t seen them. I would encourage you to read the whole report, It’s excellent. Microinsurance did make a difference in the recovery from the Typhoon. Funds were spent restarting livelihoods and repairing homes. Microinsurance fill the gap especially in cases where assistance wasn’t provided by the government, NGO’s or International Organizations to repair homes.
The experience of the Typhoon has increased insurance awareness. Providers, intermediaries clients all support the notion that people that people are asking more about insurance, this is a great opportunity for CLIMBS. The type of insurance delivery model i.e. Mutuals and Coops also impacted the effectiveness of the timely and accurate claims payment. Organizations that have frequent and regular contact with their clients could process claims more quickly as they personally knew the policyholders along with their friends and families. So verifying and locating clients was a much easier task than for others with a more distant relationship. This says to me that mutuals delivered a better service.
As microinsurance intermediaries typically have a stronger relationship with their clients and are closer in proximity to them as they are usually situated in their communities. Compared to traditional insurance, they are compelled to help clients through the disaster. Being in the community within a strong network outside of the devastated areas, the microinsurance service providers were able to have relatively quick access to the affected areas and bring in relief goods and provide some stability in the chaos. Again, you could only so this with the mutual and cooperative model. So as a result of all your great work during the Typhoon Haiyan, there is now a call from the Philippines’ Department of Finance for microinsurance to be the cornerstone of the nations’ climate change adaptation strategy. A manifesto was launched accordingly enjoining the private and public sectors to work together towards wider microinsurance penetration. This is a great opportunity for CLIMBS to grow in your business.
So in conclusion, whilst Typhoon Haiyan was horrific for those in the wake of it, it also highlighted the value of community-based microinsurance delivered through cooperatives and mutual businesses. The reputation of CLIMBS and CARD MBA could not be higher in the Philippines because of the way you operate and the value which you adhere to. This reputation, I can tell you is playing out globally now as well. So, through the U.N.I.S.D.R Agreement, we hope countries will be better prepared for natural disasters which should help many of your members. You are the talk of civil society when it comes to resilience in dealing with natural disasters. Let’s hope it’s not all talk and there is some action that also comes from it. I see very bright future for CLIMBS and I wish you all a great Annual General Meeting. Goodbye and Thank you.
The International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation(ICMIF)