Pre-AMRAE interview with Bruno Laval, XL Catlin’s regional manager for France & Southern Europe

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Bruno Laval, XL Catlin

What trends have you observed since last year’s AMRAE conference?

As regional manager for France & Southern Europe, and a keen participant at both the AMRAE conferences and FERMA forums, I have an interesting viewpoint on the market. The past year, I would say, has seen the crystallisation of three trends that have affected companies in the region for the last decade.

Firstly, our clients are global. Large European companies are increasing their international footprints while many mid-market companies are taking the plunge, buying foreign competitors, scaling up their production and sales outside of their domestic markets. That is especially the case for France where the new government is boosting business confidence and supporting French companies in their international ambitions.

Secondly, with France aiming to become a global hub for innovation and, more generally speaking, technological advances ramping up, our clients are looking to better understand how emerging technologies and their own digital transformation are going to influence their risk exposure. That is true across Europe and across all industries.

Finally, last year saw a series of extreme weather events that impacted the lives of many. Many European companies have exposures in those regions worst affected, and these events have prompted them to reassess their risk management and resilience strategies.

In this environment, what are risk managers expecting from their insurers?

Risk managers expect intelligent and straightforward solutions for their complex and broad risk needs. Insurance is no longer solely about providing capacity. It’s about understanding our clients’ risk landscape and changing needs – fast – and adapting our solutions, equally as fast. Offering global programs to our clients with international operations is great, but providing market-leading claims services allowing our clients to track their open claims, and make better data-driven decisions based on previous claims, on a single platform, is better.

Tomorrow, we’ll go even further and use emerging technologies to the benefit of our clients to deliver even more powerful solutions. We have already, for instance, launched the world’s first blockchain platform for marine insurance, in collaboration with EY, Maersk and other industry participants. And there’s more to come.

Technology, however, is only one aspect of providing intelligent solutions. Commercial risk is still an industry that is in many ways driven by people and human interactions and that is why we need to be close to our clients. That means not only meeting them at forums such as the AMRAE Rencontres, but also seeing them regularly. Maybe even more importantly, it’s about providing our coverages in our clients’ domestic market. In 2017, we started underwriting accident and health (A&H) from Spain and Italy, political risk, credit and bond from Spain, and kidnap ransom and extortion from France. We are also launching political risk insurance and A&H in France this year.

What are you expecting from the AMRAE Rencontres this year?

Our team in France has been attending AMRAE for many years, meeting with clients and brokers. All of our business lines underwritten out of France will be represented in Marseille, and we are bringing along some of our international experts: Matthew Latham, our global head of captive programmes, Isa Ennadifi, senior underwriter, structured risk solutions and Hélène Stanway, digital leader, who will showcase a virtual reality tool that our property risk engineers are currently testing, that is designed to help risk managers visualise how a flood could impact their manufacturing sites. Pascal Matthey, our lead marine risk engineer, will address risk managers on the future of the marine industry during one of the conference’s panel sessions.

I’m delighted, also, that this year’s conference is being held in Marseille as it means we’ll also get a chance to meet our regional partners. We’ve recently increased our engagement with local brokers and clients in that part of France, through strengthening our regional presence and obtaining a licence to offer insurance solutions in Monaco to add to our capabilities to service our partners in southern France.