34th AIAG Congress - the meeting of agricultural insurers took place in Warsaw at the beginning of October

16 October 2017 — Adina TUDOR
34th AIAG Congress - the meeting of agricultural insurers took place in Warsaw at the beginning of October
AIAG_Hilton_20171002380 participants representing 40 countries from all over the world attended the 34th Congress organized by AIAG - The International Association of Agricultural Production Insurers, a premiere in the 66-years old history of AIAG Congresses.

The event was held in Warsaw between 1 and 4 October 2017. Concordia Polska TUW, Polish Reinsurance Company, PZU and TUW "TUW" were the hosts of this year's edition.

How should agricultural insurance be constructed (both crop and livestock insurance) in the time of advancing climate changes? What kind of tools can be applied to assess the risk and losses? How can the companies make use of data available from satellite and meteorological institutes (the so-called big data) - these were the main topics discussed by the world-famous experts of the insurance market.

The main goal of the Congresses is the exchange of knowledge and experience in terms of new trends, legislation, new technologies used for loss adjustment and claims settlement. They are held every two years in different places in the world.

The Congress was opened by Arnaud de BEAUCARON, the President of the AIAG, the opening speech being followed by a panel of discussions headed by representatives of the leading agricultural insurers and reinsurers in Poland: Roger HODGKISS, the Board member of PZU, Michael LOESCHE, the Board member of Concordia, Jacek KUGACZ, the Vice-President of POLISH Re and Agnieszka ROZGA, the Vice-President of TUW "TUW", who presented their companies and the Polish agricultural insurance market.

During these 4 days, the participants had the possibility to learn about insurance solutions functioning in Poland. Prof. Sebastian STEPIEN from the Poznan University of Economics mentioned that the Polish agriculture's share in GDP is 2.6%, while the whole agricultural sector with 7.5 % share generates a surplus of 7 billion euro. Krzysztof LYSKAWA, PhD from the Poznan University of Economics discussed the risk of hail as the most common risk insured in Poland. The package of 2 risks: adverse effects of overwintering and a spring ground frost comes the second. The cover for this package is concluded during the autumn season. As estimated, the number of farmers purchasing agricultural insurance in Poland amounts to 140 - 160 thousand in total.

Other speakers focused on the greenhouse effect and climate changes. In their opinion, even though adverse weather events will become more extreme, the advancing climate warming will allow to achieve higher yield and introduce new species of plants to cultivate. The new trend popular in agricultural insurance covers paradigmatic products, the so-called index products. This topic was presented by Hans FEYEN from SWISS Re and Maximilian STROBL from Munich Re. Is it possible that index-based solutions will entirely replace the classic crop insurance? For the time being, the classic ones dominate in the world and the only exception is India. However, index tools are getting more and more popular, still as a complementary niche product though. Stephane GIN from GROUPAMA and Bruno LEPOIVRE from Pacific shared their experience of index insurance functioning in France. They showed the process of estimating the deficit of production by means of satellites in practice. Jose CULLEN from Brazilian branch of SWISS Re Corporate Solutions presented a case study from Latin America. According to his conclusions, index insurance is the niche worth exploring. And even though it is a solution widely discussed all over the world, its popularity will not grow rapidly due to still poor access to high quality data.

Eberhard FAUST from Munich Re discussed weather which is one of the most important issue regarding crop insurance. His graphs showed how the climate had changed. In his view, global warming should be a wake-up call, as rising temperatures entail many risks for insurers. The most striking is the extension of the vegetation period, which results in late frosts. And as it is well known, such losses are very expensive for insurers. Global warming entails hail, torrential rains, floods, heat.... Eberhard FAUST emphasized that the companies must take into account the fact that natural disasters will be more and more frequent. The audience was rising questions whether and how much the premiums should be raised. Munich Re expert advised insurers to monitor current weather data and not to depend on statistics from previous years.

The topic of big data and new technologies allowing farmers to have nearly their own command center could not have been omitted during the Congress. Gottfried PRESSL, the founder of PRESSL Instruments, discussed satellites, drones and ground monitoring of fields. Axel RELIN from GAF debated whether big data could be translated into data useful for agricultural insurance. Discussions also included the use of weather data and claims settlement, also in digital version.

Traditionally, the closing of the session and the invitation to the next congress was made by the AIAG Board, who announced that the next Congress of the International Association of Agricultural Production Insurers will be held in France in two years' time.

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