AMRAE confident of progress on captives as it confirms conference to go ahead next month

AMRAE has confirmed that its annual meeting of French risk managers will go ahead in-person next month, and urged cyber insurers to stand by its members amid extremely difficult market conditions.

Speaking at a press conference in Paris, AMRAE’s president Oliver Wild also reiterated that plans to make it more fiscally attractive for French companies to self-insure difficult-to-place risks and use captives are not dead in the water, despite the absence of hoped-for measures in the recently published 2022 Finance Bill.

The 29th Rencontres de l’AMRAE conference will go ahead in early February, after last year’s meeting was cancelled and held virtually instead.

There was concern that this year’s meeting could be in trouble because of the surging Omicron Covid-19 variant. But Wild said it will take place, with more than 2,500 French risk managers and insurance market players expected to meet in Deauville.

During the event, AMRAE will propose a series of debates on how companies can face the world that is emerging from the current crisis.

The current model has been put in question by the Covid pandemic, but was already proving inadequate to tackle challenges that preceded the virus, Mr Wild pointed out. A case in point is climate change.

During the conference’s roundtables and workshops, participants will talk about climate change and other risks, with AMRAE arguing that stakeholders must deal with these issues collectively.

Discussion on new business models will extend to the insurance market. AMRAE believes that the industry is not meeting the evolving needs of insurance buyers in some key areas. One example is the cyber insurance market.

Mr Wild noted that five years ago, insurers aggressively sold cyber policies to their clients. Today, however, there is little, if any, appetite for the risk, even though companies are more exposed than ever to threats such as ransomware.

“Investments in prevention are there, and companies are equipping themselves with technical and especially human resources. However, insurance capacity is not offered,” Mr Wild pointed out.

There have been significant price increases for cyber cover in recent years, but this is not the most worrying problem faced by buyers right now, he added.

“We are in a situation where insurers do not even answer us. Dialogue is broken and it creates problems for companies at a governance level,” Wild said. “When there is capacity, there is often no substance. They give you a piece of paper with exclusions for ransomware, for example.”

“I ask myself if there will be a cyber insurance market next year,” continued Wild.

It is not surprising, then, that ransomware is the theme of one of the most sought-after  workshops that will be held by AMRAE in Deauville. Other subjects that have already caught the interest of participants include silent covers, emerging threats, climate risks and hydrogen.

In a sign of the extent to which the new world emerging from the pandemic has changed, AMRAE’s country-focused sessions, which are traditionally focused on opportunities in new markets, will this time around discuss the US and China. The aviation industry will also get special attention during the event.

Underlying the discussions is the concept of innovation, which will be key for companies to take risks and thrive in the new business environment, according to Wild.

Being innovative is not restricted to technology and also requires new ways to finance risk-taking. It is in this spirit that AMRAE will launch a federation of French captive owners in February, as the association continues its quest to make France a viable jurisdiction for the self-insurance tools.

AMRAE’s campaign suffered a setback last year as, contrary to expectations, the French government’s budget did not include a project to create better conditions for the adoption of self-insurance mechanisms by French companies.

But Wild remains confident that progress will be made soon.

“There is a continuing dialogue with the Finance Ministry,” he said. “The mechanism has been defined, both for captives and for self-insurance for SMEs.”

He added that the government’s strategy has been to first flag potential rule changes at European level, before implementing them in French legislation.

“We are confident that quite soon we will see a mechanism that will be at least as competitive and attractive as other mechanisms that can be found elsewhere in Europe,” Wild concluded.

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