Continuity the theme, but IUMI cannot sit on its hands, says new president Denèfle

Yesterday afternoon the annual IUMI conference, held this year in Chicago, Illinois, named Frédéric Denèfle as its new president, succeeding Richard Turner, whose four-year term came to an end at this conference.

Denèfle is Managing Director of French marine war risks specialist GAREX.

Denèfle’s has served on the IUMI Executive Committee since 2018. Before then, he was the Legal and Liability Technical Committee Chair from 2015.

He started out in legal claim handling, first with Paris-based Reunion Européenne and then with the French market organisation CESAM. He joined AGF MAT/Allianz Group in 1998 and worked there until 2012.

In 2013, he started a new role at GAREX to become the Managing Director of underwriting of Marine War insurance in Paris.

Speaking to IMN yesterday, Denèfle said that he wanted to emphasize continuity, but he also noted that the organization could not sit on its hands. “We have to go forward and cope with all kinds of adaptation. Internally we have to make sure we are more efficient. The merging of some committees was not ruled out, and IUMI was also considering becoming more involved in logistics. No decisions had yet been made on this, but if progress was to be made, some change would be necessary.

Denèfle noted that the industry was facing an age issue, and that when the “new generation” of professionals takes over, things would inevitably changeHowever, he said that it was important to recruit people with the right skillsets for the task.

Denèfle was confident that new professionals would be found for the sector, because “what we do in marine is extremely interesting. When I explain the relationship with the insureds – visits to China, Brazil, dealing with cargo fires the variety is always attractive to anyone who hears about it. If the benefits of IUMI can be explained clearly, Denèfle  that he was confident that people joining the association would step-by-step appear in the new committees.

Denèfle also accepted that the new generation of marine insurance professionals would come with new approaches. “They are much more used to IT tools, social media tools, tools to compile data. They want to go paperless, they want to work on a remote basis without any kind of restriction. We will not be able to go back to the way it was before the pandemic. A new work system will have to be developed that combines the benefits of working remotely with the benefits of meeting co-workers face-to-face”.

Denèfle noted that his company used a number of juniors during the summertime and that the first question they often asked was “what are your databases?”. If they see a poor IT system, they are baffled. Digitalization in the marine insurance sector, a big push from IUMI this year, was not just to keep the regulators and the capital providers happy, but also to convince the younger generation that marine insurance is where they want to work.

Denèfle said that companies had to find the balance between working remotely and working in the office. “You must offer some remote working. Perhaps two days a week in the office. It becomes a social deal. People can rely on the fact that they can work on a remote basis. They can open up their life in a different way that we used to do. And it doesn’t cost so much. You can recompense them for their expenses at home.”

“Two-and-a-half years ago there were a lot of insurers who didn’t want to hear at all about remote working. But we went from no dialogue to developing solutions very quickly — forced by external events.

The focus on ESG, data and digitalization comes on top of many other areas that IUMI works on, such as the developing claims database. Because of Covid, the past three years had been a difficult time to set new targets. Nevertheless IUMI had laid out clear messages on ESG, Data and digitalization.

The IUMI Executive Committee 2022/23 comprises:

  • Frédéric Denèfle, IUMI President, France (FFA)
  • Kosuke Hashimoto, Japan (GIAJ)
  • Stephen Barr, UK (IUA)
  • Sean Dalton, USA (AIMU)
  • Mariella Dauphinee, Canada (CBMU)
  • Tore Forsmo, Norway (Cefor)
  • Anneke Kooiman, Netherlands (VVV)
  • Timothy Lee, Hong Kong (HKFI)

Nominating Committee 2022/23 comprises

  • Patrizia Kern, Chair, Switzerland (SVV)
  • Mike Csorba, USA (AIMU)
  • Frédéric Denèfle, IUMI President, France (FFA)
  • Paul Hackett, Singapore (GIAS)
  • Selina Lau, Hong Kong (HKFI)
  • Jan-Hugo Marthinsen, Norway (Cefor)
  • Richard Turner, UK (IUA).