Javier San BASILIO
Regional Manager for Europe

XPRIMM: As global re/insurance groups are struggling with low interest rates, currency fluctuations and even a more challenging geopolitical climate, which are the most important challenges the insurance industry has to currently face and how do you plan to tackle them?
Javier San BASILIO:
As a global reinsurer, we at MAPFRE Re face all the above-mentioned issues; all of them relevant to our activity. The low interest rates, especially in Western and developed countries, present a challenge, but also an opportunity to a company like ours, as we have always focused on sound technical basis and appropriate risk management and underwriting. The geopolitical challenges need also a very close attention, as we aim to be able to assist to the local needs of our clients and those of our employees. The balanced global reach of our group allows us to be very proactive in managing the potential difficulties in any given territory.

The increased protectionism seen in some countries and the changing regulatory frameworks also pose an additional challenge, as they limit or even inhibit the efficient access to the global reinsurance market.

XPRIMM: Do you, as a primary insurer and, at the same time, a reinsurer, see climate change as a reality? What role do you believe that the insurance industry must play in this regard, considering that it has accumulated specific know-how and they are among the first to feel the financial impact?
J. S. B.:
MAPFRE is committed to the battle against climate change, not only are we signatories to the Paris Pledge for Action, but we are also listed as one of the most committed companies in the world in fighting climate change, as acknowledged by the "Carbon Disclosure Project" List.

We actively contribute toward research on the effect of climate change on the insurance industry, and on how we can help our clients in managing and protecting this risk better.

XPRIMM: One of your core directions has been a continued development in Latin America. Do you see that region as one of the core areas for MAPFRE?
J. S. B.:
Spain and Latin America are the territories where MAPFRE Re initially developed its business. We have always been - and will be - committed to the Latin American continent. However, for many years already, MAPFRE RE has achieved a very strong presence in other regions such as Europe and North America, and we can proudly see ourselves now as a global reinsurer. We currently have 19 offices throughout the world and have business in more than 100 countries.

XPRIMM: What is the group's view on the CEE countries, considering that your presence there is limited compared to other large groups? Which are the pros and cons, in MAPFRE's view, regarding the markets in this region?
J. S. B.:
Central & Eastern European countries are organizationally considered one single region but actually, the region is very heterogeneous. As a result, our approach should be heterogeneous too.

Countries like Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Romania benefit from a slowly recovery of their most important trading partner, in fact the EU. In the last few years, we have observed many positive factors like an ongoing reduction of unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates and reduced raw material prices.

The increased demand of private households is the motor of above average growth rates compared to other important emerging countries like the so-called BRIC states. Given the positive economic outlook, larger groups will always eye the region with interest. It is true that the economic outlook is not positive in all countries:  the economy of the Balkan countries is stagnating for some years and the impact of the economic damage caused by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia can be higher than currently reported.

MAPFRE Group's presence in the region is mainly through our reinsurance activities. MAPFRE Re is doing business in most of the countries for more than 15 years. Our activities were intensified 10 years ago with the opening of our Munich office, and today we can say that our company ranks within the Top 5 or Top 7 group of reinsurance providers in the region with stable portfolios and stable results.

I would highlight the fact that most of these markets are dominated by international groups with large market shares. This prevailing situation makes it more difficult for us and other reinsurers to develop new business with local companies. In addition, in some countries we face extreme competition. Looking for profitability, we see ourselves forced to be more selective and as a result, we have to accept reduced market shares.

XPRIMM: Which are currently your core markets and how did they evolve over the past 4-5 years? Do you have in mind any geographical expansion in the near future?
J. S. B.:
For MAPFRE Re, Europe, Latin America, IBERIA (Spain and Portugal) and North America are the main areas currently. The Asia Pacific region has been growing steadily in the past years and we see that trend continuing. We currently have 19 offices, and we would be open to increase that number if we think that it would help in better serving our clients. We think our network is fairly substantial, but are always evaluating new opportunities.

XPRIMM: One of the key words heard within the insurance world is digitalization. How do you see it being applied by MAPFRE or influencing your activity?
J. S. B.:
Without doubt, digital transformation is changing the business model of insurance companies, and also the risks we cover. We have to be able to provide cover for such new risks and give solutions to society, as our industry has always done.

Digital transformation is one of the group's strategic objectives. In primary insurance, the group aims at increasing to 30% the number of digital transactions executed by clients in our main markets. But digitalization not only will change the way in which primary insurance operates and relates to clients. For the reinsurance industry, it is also an opportunity to achieve operational efficiency and increase our services.

XPRIMM: Digitalization has also drawn the interest of industry outsiders towards the insurance business. Have you identified possible opportunities for partnerships or maybe even potential threats?
J. S. B.:
We, as everybody else, have identified both opportunities and threats derived from the digitalization process.

We know that risks we will have to face in a few years do not exist today. MAPFRE Re is clearly determined to be ready to face these challenges, and to be a valuable partner to our clients. We will be ready to offer value propositions to our different kinds of clients.

We have already started building partnerships with what you call industry outsiders, people and services not traditionally part of our industry but whom we think will have a relevant role in the future.

XPRIMM: Which are you strategic development directions for the years to come?
J. S. B.:
Our challenge is to continue with the objective of profitable growth in an increasingly competitive environment. At MAPFRE Re, we are convinced that we will only be successful when we are able to provide value to our clients.

This is why client orientation is one of the strategic key elements for us. We have launched a series of internal initiatives that place the interests and needs of the client in the centre of all our activities. This comprises elements like products, services, prices, the entry in potentially new lines of business, etc. In addition, we have to be more flexible in the way we adapt our own organization to special client segments. All this will be supported by a total review of the internal processes. Operational excellence and efficiency are other key elements in this respect.

Apart from strategic initiatives, MAPFRE Re also benefits from special circumstances: from my perspective, the most differentiating factor is the team. Though in figures it is not very extensive - around 350 people around the world, we believe it is a very diversified and extraordinary team that we try to strengthen further through sophisticated programs of talent management.

Finally, one should not forget the fact of belonging to the MAPFRE Group, which is also a clear element of differentiation from our competitors. It brings the strength of the brand, the valuable culture of company, its prestige, reputation, and solvency. We are the only relevant reinsurer belonging to a global insurance group. It is an added value because it gives us a deep knowledge of insurance from inside of the organization itself, which, at the end, is very appreciated by our customers.

Related articles


Hannah GRANT, Head of Secretariat, Secretariat of the Access to Insurance Initiative

The speed of change has no historical precedent. Change is occurring at an exponential, rather than linear pace. When it comes to greater access to insurance, these are exciting and unprecedented times. We would not describe inclusive insurance as a challenge to classical insurance per se. The ambition to include new people in the market or to cover new risks is often a driver for innovation. We see insurance markets are becoming more responsive and innovative. However, it should always be guaranteed that innovation and change is to the benefit of the policyholders.


Calin RANGU, Director, Intermediaries Supervision and Monitoring Rules of Conduct Department ASF - Financial Supervisory Authority, Romania

Most important are the proactive consumer protection actions. In this respect, ASF has set up a direction to supervise insurers' business conduct. This directorate develops supervision tools aligned to the risk-based supervision principle. Among these tools we mention thematically supervision, mystery shopping, social media monitoring, receiving and processing of bad conduit public alert information. We also put special emphasis on operational risks' management in insurance companies. These risks are in fact those that affect consumers. Employees behavior, lack of processes or inaccurate processes, internal or external frauds, lack of business continuity, IT and cybercrime problems all relate to operational risks and must be managed preventively to protect consumers.


Dr. Savvas TZANIS CEO, IMPERIAL Claims Services

Our customers are extremely happy with our services compared to their partners in Western Europe because they cannot understand them. It is definitely a matter of culture. With us, they feel that they can speak the same language and that we can understand them. So, our aim in the future will be to remain, invest and expand our activities in our region. We want to be a regional player. We try however to bring and apply in our region the best claims handling practices of the biggest loss adjusting groups in Europe they have.


Alexey RUDENKO, CEO, SBERBANK Life Insurance

We expect an increase of the investment life insurance penetration in Russia due to the new legislation on unit-linked, which will allow us to offer new products without guarantee in the context of falling rates. The source for potential growth is the inclusion of life insurance in the new pension system, where insurers could become operators of voluntary pension savings along with non-government pension funds.


Matteo CARBONE, Founder and Director, IoT Insurance Observatory

Don't fall in love for a technology: any solution sooner or later will become obsolete; any investment sooner or later will represent a legacy. The innovation is not a final destination, it is a journey. You cannot stop to innovate. Innovate or die.


Klime POPOSKI: in the Balkans, we need a regional center for actuarial education

"Most of the South Eastern Europe countries lack quality actuarial education. On the other hand, each country has different rules for organizing the educational circles for actuaries. It is mostly a matter of scale: there are not enough persons interested by an actuarial career in each country, meaning that it is not cost effective to organize every year educational programs for the actuarial field. We need to set up some regional center for actuarial education," Klime POPOSKI, President Insurance Supervision Agency, Macedonia stated for XPRIMM in a video interview recorded on the occasion of "IIF 2018 - CEE & SEE - Regional Actuarial Insurance Conference".




FIAR 2018 - Motor Insurance Conference (I & II): with the right use of technoloogy, clients' expectations and MTPL insurer's profitability may go hand in hand

The first and second parts of the Motor Insurance Conference taking place at FIAR 2018 focused on the new MTPL Law in Romania and the way it changed the market after almost 1 year of implementation, as well as the consequences of the new legislative framework and the operational challenges this brings, but also the most suitable solutions for balancing regulation, insurers' appetites and customer expectations on the MTPL market.


FIAR 2018: Brokers' Conference (II): digitization and technology are needed for efficient operations, but will not replace the human touch in consultancy

The second part of the Brokers' Conference taking place at FIAR 2018 analyzed the impact of European Union's legislative overhaul - IDD & GDPR -, also bringing into debate study cases and real-life scenarios of what the brokers face on the market, and, last but not least, trying to see whether digitization and InsurTech could truly lead to disintermediation.


Brokers' Conference (I): Until 1 July, when we will see the final version of the IDD, we cannot say for certain if we are ready and how ready we actually are

The second day of debates at FIAR 2018 started with The Brokers' Conference, the event dedicated to the mediation market in Romania and in the CEE region. The first part of the conference focused on a market overview and also analyzed the challenges of the IDD implementation, as well as the potential impact of IPID for MTPL and PAD.


INSURANCE IN A DIGITAL WORLD Conference: capacity, consistency and culture are the three key success factors in the digital transformation of insurers

The INSURANCE IN A DIGITAL WORLD Conference, taking place at FIAR 2018, brought into debate the impact of digitization on the insurance industry. The first part of the conference focused on risks & opportunities of digitalization for both industry and consumers, as well as case studies and best practices: BigData & IoT, BlockChain, Peer-to-Peer, and AI.


Insurance Market Trends Conference (II): GDPR and IDD, European regulations affecting all business lines, as well as the compliance with the Solvency II framework, are the main challenges ahead for the Romanian market

During the second part of the Insurance Market Trends Conference, taking place at FIAR 2018, the debates focused on the current situation in Romania and the sustainable development for a growing and stable insurance market, as well as the challenges and opportunities for the local insurers.


See all