Amid all the news of change and disruption every day, there are some things in Japan that will remain unchanged, said Mr Noriyuki Hara, Chairman of the General Insurance Association of Japan (GIAJ), as the association celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
These are the value of insurers offering “high quality, highly convenient products that meet customer needs, especially when delivered with the “Omotenashi” spirit (Japanese-style courtesy)”, and insurers’ role as “risk bearers”, which will remain essential, as “risks diversify and grow in complexity amid changes in the social landscape”, he said.
He went on to stress that the general insurance industry in Japan is determined to serve their customers better through further strengthening public confidence and developing themselves in response to a transforming society.
Mr Hara laid down four directions that are deemed crucial for their future initiatives. These are:
A more forward-looking response to environmental changes
He said: “Changes in the social environment will entail ever-accelerating changes in risks. We are responsible for responding to such changes in a flexible manner and fulfilling our role as an infrastructure that helps build a worry-free, safe society through provision of insurance products that cater for different types of risk. While the importance of this responsibility has and will remain unchanged, it is essential for us to advance appropriate measures in a more forward-looking manner.”
Further “customer-oriented” business operations
General insurers have continued to pursue higher customer satisfaction by improving solicitation, payment processes, and quality of business administration across the industry, and it is through all these measures that they can pursue a more “customer-oriented” business, he said.
Establishment of a more robust and stable general insurance system
Enhancing their financial strength is a must and this will help to build trust between customers and insurers and raise the level of public confidence in the sector, said Mr Hara.
Strengthening cooperation with relevant parties and issuing opinions to enhance our standing both at home and abroad
This is another priority the association will continue to pursue.
The GIAJ celebrated the 100th anniversary of its foundation on 29 May. On that day in 1917, the Joint Fire Insurance Association of Japan, its predecessor, was established with 42 domestic and foreign member insurers. Its initial objective was to ensure stable management of general insurers amid intensifying competition, through various arrangements such as appropriate fire insurance rate setting and the maintenance of orderly insurance solicitation.
Since then, the general insurance industry has been moving in pace to fulfil its role as an important part of the country’s social infrastructure, said Mr Hara, who is also President of MSIG. He cited examples, which include the establishment of the Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance and development of voluntary automobile insurance to support the advancement of motorisation, expansion in product line-up to cater for the diversified needs of society, as well as the creation of the Earthquake Insurance System, along with industry-wide dedication to restoration efforts in response to the occurrence of large-scale quakes.
The total premiums written in fiscal 2015 amounted to about JPY8.4 trillion (US$77 billion), more than 200 times greater than that 100 years ago (based on adjustments for inflation and other factors). “Overall, we can say that our industry has grown steadily in line with progressing society,” Mr Hara said. A