Report from ICMIF (1997)

This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
Dec., 1997
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.90 No.4, 1997, pp.47-50)

Report from International Co-operative and Mutual Insurance
Federation (ICMIF)
by Hans Dahlberg*

This year we in ICMIF are celebrating the 75th anniversary of our
organization. In April 1922 in Rome, Italy, representatives of five
European co-operative insurers came together and decided to set up
a joint body which became the Insurance Committee of ICA. Today
the ICMIF has 100 insurance groups in 61 countries covering all

The past two years have seen us make great strides in carrying out our
core function of building up our membership and encouraging member
contact. We have added a further 18 members, bringing the total to 100.

We have also seen a most positive development in our core function to
offer reinsurance access and professional services. We are now beginning
to provide members with what they want - added value for their business
operations. It accords fully with our reinsurance mission statement which
sets out:

1.	To promote co-operation and understanding in reinsurance matters
	among our members.

2.	To encourage reinsurance exchanges between members.

3.	To advise members on their reinsurance requirements and assist
	them to obtain suitable cover with secure reinsurers within or
	outside ICMIF.

Current market conditions are ideal for our members to strengthen their
business using the services we can provide. It is an excellent way of
helping to spread the risk.

To facilitate this, we set up a new company in July 1966 called Reinsurance
Services Ltd so that we can place business on the open market. This now
means we can offer a full reinsurance service for our members.
In addition to the exchange of reinsurance services we have continued
networking and introduced innovations in training which have been
enthusiastically received by many members.

One such service is a new computer-based business simulation that staff at
the ICMIF Secretariat have developed with the help of a UK-based training
company. The simulation was a big success when it was used for our global
reinsurance network. It brought delegates closer together, reinforcing
networking. It also provided an excellent training method.

Consequently, several members have asked for the simulation to be run
at local level and during the last 12 months we have conducted training
sessions in London, Vienna, Paris and Buenos Aires. Over 175
professional reinsurers have now undergone the training. A second
computerised business simulation on development is now being prepared.

Looking towards the future, our Reinsurance Business Plan sets out to
provide an added-value project every two years. The development of
computer-based models for evaluating alternative reinsurance treaty
structures and a model for assessing quotations are now in the pipeline.

I should now like to move to development. Once again, we are following
a laid out core function, that of extending and co-ordinating development
assistance. Put at its simplest level, our aim is to try to help companies to
help themselves - either through technical advice and assistance or through
pump priming finance.

Our efforts are guided by an overall strategic objective: to deliver the right
kind of assistance in the right place at the right time.

If one were to look for a theme to cover the past two years, I think it would
be "changing dimensions".

Our development effort is no longer just for companies and organizations in
developing countries. We need also to meet the needs of members operating
in more developed countries, too.

Two features which stand out are:
1.	the changing dimension of moving from state controlled to open
	markets in many countries.

2.	the changing dimension of moving from saturated home markets to
	international markets in more developed countries.

In both cases a common need is capital and ICMIF is proposing the setting
up of a Mutual Capital Fund for established members, to be managed
professionally by Allnations Inc, a body jointly owned by a large
number of our members. The Mutual Capital Fund is designed to make
capital available for established companies at market rates while providing
competitive returns on participating member's investments.

Also under consideration is an International Reserve Fund which is a special
arrangement for developing member companies.

These improvements to the service are vital in helping to provide added
values for members, regardless of their stage of development and are a key
force in keeping the co-operative and mutual insurance movement strong in
the face of the challenges of a fast changing world environment.

The English philosopher, Francis Bacon said four hundred years ago that
Knowledge is Power. That statement becomes more and more true as time
goes by and it has never been more true than it is in today's world. Our
members have therefore stated that an additional core objective for the new
ICMIF should be to "Guide and enrich our shared intelligence".

Our intelligence unit at ICMIF is carrying out this function in three main ways:

1.	member information - gathering information for our members.

2.	collaborative research - exchanging experience, studying valuable
	topics, producing reports and 

3.	market information - analysing market data including information
	obtained through members.

We were not able to tackle all these headings at once so we have been
phasing them in, helped by the newly formed Insurance Intelligence
Network. With its wide experience from 15 different companies, this group
has helped us keep more closely in touch with what members require.

Firstly, under the members information heading, we produce annually an
updated Members' Directory. The Directory provides an accurate overview
of our membership, comprehensive descriptions of each member, including
activities and financial results, and international market statistics.

We are also establishing a database to store information to facilitate the use
of member data and enable instant retrieval.

Secondly, we have made considerable progress in developing collaborative
research projects. I think the key to our success is the recognition that while
knowledge is power, networking creates even more power.

Today we have five professional networks. Besides the ones already
mentioned, reinsurance and insurance intelligence, we also have networks
for investment managers and marketing experts.

At our forthcoming  conference in 4 weeks time we will present results from
several projects, including that on Key Management Challenges in which
we are identifying the most important management concerns facing
members and of analysing what actions they think will work best. The
theme of the conferences is Together Today for a Better Tomorrow.

There are many other projects and mini-projects in the pipeline. As you can
well imagine the potential list is endless. But our aim is to add to our store
of intellectual capital, to make this valuable information available to all
members, to provide intelligence that can give members a competitive edge
in the markets in which they operate.

That concludes my review of the progress we have made over the past years
and what ambitions we have for the future. In all of this we are
endeavouring to provide our members with a service on subjects that really
matter which equals or improves upon that available elsewhere. We want
one of the key fruits of belonging to our organization to be added value for
every member. This also helps to strengthen the principles of co-operation
and mutuality for which we all stand.

* Mr. Dahlberg has been Chief Executive Officer of ICMIF since January
   1993 after two years of Chairmanship with the federation.