Amandine Lepoutre: In this climate of multiple uncertainties – climate, pandemic, political, demographic, technological – what is affecting your insurance business the most?
Marie-Doha Besanceno: The insurance model is based on risk pooling: people decide, for a premium, to insure themselves together against non-systemic risks, pooling premiums that will support those who suffer losses. However, over the course of several years we have experienced a series of unprecedented systemic crises: attacks, social protest movements, a global health crisis, a war on the borders of the European Union… In times of uncertainty, the great challenge is for an insurer to properly anticipate the impact of new risks and be able to take them on yourself. He is expected to remain a pillar of the company’s sustainability, putting his solidity at the service of the long term. This means the ability to pick up weak signals. But also to be more and more armed against the effects of global warming, which insurers really know how to measure as they compensate the victims of exceptional climate events. Another new challenge: satisfying consumer demand for personalized, bespoke offerings… far from the logic of a conventional boiler. This requires showing interest in new uses as they emerge, without the trusted third party that is insurers, the sharing economy is unlikely to thrive.
When looking at risk dashboards published by the World Economic Forum, the Risk Leaders Forum or various analysts, it becomes clear that the number of risks mentioned, their severity and frequency, have a structural tendency to increase. How does the concept of responsibility develop in this context and how do we implement CSR when we are an insurer?
As a financial player, the insurer has a critical role to play in shaping the economy of tomorrow. It does this on a daily basis, for example by investing its policyholders’ insurance premiums in projects that accelerate the transition to energy. It does this by working with government players to develop rules for responsible finance, by thinking about a taxonomy of energies to be promoted and excluded, by helping to make the market discriminating, by facilitating comparison of non-financial outcomes, by playing the game of transparency and traceable goals. Instead of waiting for public players, he can also bring together coalitions of dedicated players to pull the market up, as he did withAsset Owners Alliance. The emergence of corporate CSR has clearly legitimized the action of insurers on the climate component. Our customers regularly confirm that they are waiting for us there and with solutions.
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“There is a competition of economic entities for commitment”
The characteristic of risk is that it is largely unpredictable and develops in often unexpected directions. But the insurer can only take on the risk if he can rely on stable and sound grounds, that is, on the strength of the contract and on sound institutions. How can or should responsibility be shared between the state and companies in the current environment?
Yes, it is a challenge in a society saturated with the welfare state, because the protection objectives offered by the insurer are interconnected. And in our society, there is less and less tolerance for a risk not related to its own responsibility that is not fully covered, whether it be the community or a third party that takes the risk. This was talked about a lot during the Covid crisis, which plunged the world into unprecedented situations, the specifics of which, by definition, were not announced in advance. The state played its protective role. And the insurer played two different roles: on the one hand, absorbing insurance shocks through the strict application of contracts, and on the other hand, showing solidarity beyond any contractual framework, generosity, voluntarily agreed and specific to each company. . This solidarity again runs into the millions in the face of the humanitarian emergency in Ukraine.
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If this period contributes to a rethinking of all our models, the “famous afterlife” that was discussed after the pandemic, what should be rethought within the sector so that society feels confident, confident, able to change … and therefore take risks ?
How to continue to take risks in a society where the precautionary principle and the increasing legalization of relationships prevail? The whole task is to offer our society the desired guarantees of protection without holding back the will to act. The insurer plays a key role in supporting innovation by directly supporting start-ups and investing in impact funds. In order to create the desired society of trust, the insurer also shares with the public authorities an interest and a tenfold leverage: prevention. Beyond the historical area of road safety, an insurance company has the expertise to broadly extend it to fields as diverse as health, climate risk, or even financial education.
This period is also the period of corporate obligations. Again, what are the risks of this huge enthusiasm for commitment?
It is very good that everyone wants to participate and that there is also competition between economic players. Commitments offered to employees can indeed work as catalysts for meaning, motivation, and pride. To do this, it is necessary to be able to deploy a real variety of individual commitments that align well with the values that the company carries and are at least partially related to the company’s activities in order to gain legitimacy.