Mapfre Global Risks CEO Ignacio Baeza
23 October 2017 Insurance

London’s calling

Mapfre will be well known to insurers and reinsurers alike on a global basis. The global insurance group operates in 49 countries and, in 2015, had an income of approximately €26,700 million and a net profit of €709 million.

It is the leading insurer in the Spanish market, the largest multinational insurer in Latin America and one of the top 10 European insurance groups in terms of premium volume. Mapfre Re, its reinsurance unit, also enjoys a solid market share and is a top 20 reinsurer globally.

In recent years the Mapfre Group has also been investing heavily in growing Mapfre Global Risks (MGR), its insurance business that specialises in providing insurance solutions for large companies on a global basis.

Like some of its sister units, MGR has a strong position in the Spanish market and prominence in Latin America. It has also been growing fast in other markets and recently set out plans for further global expansion driven out of a London platform—a move it has stuck by despite the UK’s imminent exit from the EU. London has become its strategic base for international growth of its global risks business, continental Europe and operations in North America and Asia-Pacific.

It has used the London platform to launch several new initiatives including, most recently, a move into the London aviation insurance market with a senior hire from Willis.

This followed from earlier recent announcements to expand its energy team in the London Market and the appointment of Carlos Vasquez as international head of underwriting, who has been tasked with the continued expansion in London, and moved there from Madrid in Spain.

Ignacio Baeza, vice chairman of Mapfre and chief executive of MGR, says that Mapfre’s ambitions are comprehensive, encompassing a multi-channel strategy, covering all types of clients from individuals, to small and medium-sized enterprises, to the largest global corporations. MGR is an important piece of this strategy—especially given the increasingly complex risks large global companies are facing.

“Eventually, we want to position ourselves as one of the top insurance groups worldwide, and the global risks segment plays an important role in this journey,” Baeza says.

“Besides the classical issues of major corporate clients, as a society we are facing a new range of risks such as the impact of new technologies on the risk profile of industries, plus the ever-increasing threat of cyber attacks.

“Mapfre wants to be at the forefront of the new insurance world, providing creative solutions to cover these new risks, including for large-scale global businesses, which face particular challenges in terms of scope, complexity and scale. This is why the MGR team constitutes one of the four strategic units for the Mapfre Group.”

London as a hub

In a period when so many other insurers and reinsurers are opening offices in European cities such as Dublin, Zurich and Brussels to prepare for Brexit, it is unusual to see a company apparently doing the opposite. MGR has chosen London as its platform for international growth despite Brexit, and is sticking with this decision.

Baeza explains that this decision was taken before the referendum that resulted in Brexit, but that little has changed in terms of the market’s strengths.

“London is a world-leading centre for global and specialty risks, so for MGR it was a natural choice as a platform for international growth. This decision was taken some time ago and Brexit doesn’t change this position, particularly as MGR does not have the passporting issues that many of our UK-headquartered competitors are facing,” he says.

“Looking ahead, we believe that London will continue as a market-leader, due to its high concentration of world-class underwriting capability. MGR has already hired some top talent with expertise in aviation, construction, energy (oil & gas—onshore and renewable), international programmes, liability and property underwriting. We will continue to selectively hire market-leading specialists, as a key part of our growth strategy.”

MGR is taking an unusual approach to the way it structures its client offering—one that is at odds with the way the majority of the London Market does business. Rather than structure itself by product line, as is the norm in London, it is working with clients based on their business sector and working with them on a more holistic basis, something that has worked well in some of the Spanish-speaking markets where it enjoys a strong market share.

“MGR aims to be a partner in risk with our clients, not just an insurer, building long-term strategic relationships. We have been using this approach across business sectors in the Spanish-speaking world for many years and this has enabled us to understand our clients’ businesses so that we can develop highly tailored insurance programmes to meet their specific needs,” Baeza says.

“A limited number of insurers can do that, so this is a major differentiator for MGR.”

Its business sectors in London include aviation and space; construction; industry; oil & gas; power; services and telecommunications.

“In each of these sectors we have built a family-like relationship with our clients. We are offering them something out of the norm that works really well for them,” Baeza says.

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