(Source: ICA Review, Vol.91 No.2 - Annual Report 1997-1998, pp. 59-62)
INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE AND MUTUAL INSURANCE
Chairman: Dimon R McFerson (USA)
Vice-Chairmen: Siegfried Sellitsch (Austria); Koichiro Koeda (Japan)
Members: Alfred Gonzales Moledo (Argentina); Terry Squire (Canada); Jurgen Forterer (Germany); Enea Mazzoli (Italy); Lakshmanan Meyyappan (Malaysia); Tan Kin Lian (Singapore); Tore Andersson (Sweden); David Hollas (UK)
Ex Officio: Hans Dahlberg, Chief Executive, ICMIF; Dennis Deters, chairman, AAC/MIS; vacant, chairman, AFRA
A global reach for local strength
ICMIF is also known as:
• Fédération Internationale des Coopératives et
• Kokusai Kyodokumiai Hoken Rengo
• Internationaler Verband Genossenschaftlicher und Wechselseitiger Versicherungen
• Federación Internacional de Cooperativas y Mutuales de Seguros
ICMIF’s origins go back to 1922, when it was established as the Insurance Committee of the ICA. It became a separate but affiliated organization in 1972 and was renamed and restructured as ICMIF in 1993. Its mission statement is:
“To enhance and accelerate the development of a distinct, unified, strong and influential co-operative and mutual insurance sector of the global financial services industry.
“We promote international collaboration and help strengthen co-operative and mutual insurers in different countries and regions on the basis of shared principles.
“We help our members identify with, remain committed to and contribute significantly to the co-operative movement and democratic mutuality nationally, regionally, and globally.”
Its work falls into five general categories: membership and regional associations; reinsurance; development; intelligence; communications.
Membership and regional associations
Membership has increased steadily over the years and now includes more than 250 co-operative and mutual insurers represented by 104 organizations in 62 countries. In the past year, Groupama (France) which had resigned at the end of 1996 rejoined the Federation.
The work of the Federation is assisted by three regional associations covering Europe, the Americas and Asia. These associations, with their local knowledge and skills, are able to help provide focused services relevant to the members in their regions. A regional association has been formed in Africa but will remain inactive until our members there are free from the struggle for survival.
ICMIF’s reinsurance services aim to promote co-operation and understanding of reinsurance matters, to encourage reinsurance exchanges, to advise members on their reinsurance requirements and to obtain suitable cover with secure reinsurers.
The international reinsurance market is becoming increasingly competitive and the exchange of reinsurance business among members can help them to meet competition and develop business relations with co-operative partners. During the year, the number of treaties exchanged increased, compared to the previous year.
ICMIF is also active in networking and training members using the latest and most professional techniques. For example, it has produced two computerized business simulations, the latest based on a start-up company which requires participants to make key decisions relevant not only to reinsurance but also to the development of an insurance company.
We are also introducing value-added projects, which will result in products that can be utilized by members. The development of computer-based models for evaluating alternative proportional treaty structures and a model for the assessment of excess-of-loss quotations is now in the pipeline.
ICMIF’s development work is aimed at helping companies to help themselves using technical advice and financial help. The approach is to provide them with the right kind of assistance in the right place at the right time.
Development is taking place against the background of less regulated, more open markets and a situation in a number of developed markets where insurers are looking to increase their international business. Both are tending to increase competition.
To keep pace, members need capital for growth and professional technical assistance. ICMIF is considering a mutual capital fund for established members and an international reserve fund for developing members.
A proposal for a joint venture emerged in 1997 from an ICMIF-sponsored co-operative insurance unification project in the Philippines. ICMIF has now prepared a business plan for the joint venture, for which four co-operative and trade union organizations in the country are raising start-up capital.
A potentially significant new initiative is taking place in Brazil. The apex co-operative body, the Organization of Co-operatives of Brazil (OCB) – the home organization of the ICA President, Roberto Rodrigues – has started working with ICMIF to pursue the setting up of an insurance enterprise whose main purpose initially will be to provide a package of insurance and financial services to over half a million farmer-members of agricultural co-operatives. An unusual aspect of this initiative is that two local private insurers are helping.
With the help of Zenrosai (Japan), two ICMIF consultants are working with the trade union movement in Ghana to evaluate prospects for setting up a co-operative insurance programme. Their year-long assignment began in February 1998.
CIS Kenya, which has required regular intensive management care following a historic rescue package put together by ICMIF in 1995, is showing signs of progress. There has been good press coverage of its activities.
The service provided by the intelligence unit has developed still further with increasing emphasis on joint projects, especially those with a business-to-business relevance.
The Member Directory has again been updated and continues to provide an accurate overview of the membership. Collaborative research and the analysis of market data have also been undertaken extensively. The Insurance Intelligence Network (IIN) – a group of experienced experts from members, set up in 1996 – reviews and comments upon activities and projects at key stages in their development. Already completed are a well-received report on direct response distribution, a report on bancassurance and a study on healthcare insurance. A new study on pensions and long term savings is currently being undertaken.
Part of ICMIF’s “shared” intelligence function is to set up networking opportunities to enable members to improve expertise in a focused and professional manner. A marketing and distributing channels network, for example, is looking into field selling forces and best practices of agency systems. Another network, the ICMIF investment network, is considering subjects, which include trends in world financial markets and asset liability management. The Internet is a major topic for senior strategists meeting in 1998.
Many other projects are in the pipeline as ICMIF builds up a stockpile of intellectual capital – a renewable resource that can be used by members as a driving force for the development of co-operative insurance around the world.
Information exchange, through specialist networking and the two-yearly conference, for example, is fundamental to communication among ICMIF members. Meanwhile, the media employed for ongoing communications continue to be developed and messages refreshed. ICMIF has been connected to e-mail via the Internet since 1996 (Http://w.w.w.icmif.org) and will shortly have its own site. ICMIF Network, its global newsletter, is now being written, printed and distributed in-house. Rapport, the newsletter for ICMIF’s European regional association, ACME, sums up ICMIF’s forward-looking approach to communications: it is the first ICMIF publication to be distributed by e-mail. Reaction to this innovation has been extremely favourable.