Aon, Howden, JLT, Lockton, Marsh and Willis executives rate the major risks faced by businesses operating in Singapore, and discuss whether current crop of insurance products is up to the job of covering them

Alan Cheah, chairman for South-East Asia and chief executive for Singapore, Marsh
Innovation in the insurance industry has picked up over recent years, primarily driven by brokers and end-client demand. Areas such as cyber liability insurance and other financial lines have significantly evolved, with many policies now addressing issues that go beyond physical loss, such as reputation management. 

Clients, especially in Asia, are always keen for more knowledge and best practice in the area of claims. Searchable claims databases, where clients and brokers can find case studies or examples based on industry or class of insurance, would be extremely helpful.

Adam Garrard,  Asia regional chief executive, Willis (Singapore)
We should applaud the insurance industry for its robustness in these difficult times. It has, for many years, provided protection for corporations against ‘acts of god’. But the losses are becoming characterised much more as ‘acts of man’.

For sustainable risk transfer, there needs to be recognition, then understanding and then a solution. The insurance industry is trying to respond to cyber risk, employee benefits have expanded to include wellness programmes, and reputational risk is in the research lab of every major carrier and broker. But solutions remain elusive.

I wish insurers’ willingness to pay claims matched their willingness to accept risk. We need to find a way to expedite the claims process for valid losses. Insurers should start with the assumption of indemnity and prove otherwise, rather than start with the assumption that it is not covered. It is an important shift that clients would appreciate.

Rodolphe Guillard, executive director, Aon (Singapore)
There is over-capacity in Asia, offered by new markets and new capital entering the insurance and reinsurance markets. This increase in capacity comes in conjunction with low claims results (despite 2011’s catastrophe events) and a less litigious environment than in Western countries.

However, the needs and developments of the various countries in Asia vary dramatically – for instance, between Singapore or Hong Kong and Indonesia or the Philippines.

In developing countries, basic needs for comprehensive business protection are not being met, and we have observed significant gaps in SME policies’

In mature countries, the increasing complexity of risks requires more expertise and new solutions, which are not or only partially available in the market. This is the case for cyber risk, for instance. In developing countries, the basic needs for comprehensive business protection are not being met, and we have observed significant gaps in a majority of SME policies in those countries. 

Peter Jackson, head of sales, Lockton Companies (Singapore)
The insurance industry provides protection against business risks in the region, but it does not engage sufficiently with clients to create awareness and a willingness to buy.

Companies are often incredibly ignorant of insurance solutions that address their risks. Furthermore a number of critical covers are new, and clients are rightly sceptical about how the insurance policy will work until there have been claims. 

[I would like to see] more products to protect against intangible risks and those related to regulation. Singapore is a major financial services centre, but insurance solutions have not kept up with the needs of financial services businesses.

Clients are often part of complex supply-chain structures where more multi-company, multi-jurisdiction solutions would offer greater continuity of cover.

Philip Ondaatje, managing director for strategic risk solutions, and Craig Paterson, regional director, JLT Asia (Singapore)
Over the past 20 years, the insurance industry has tried consolidation and cost management to improve margins. Little has changed, so innovation is the only option left to improve profitability and credibility.

Products should be better tailored to clients’ financial needs. This could [be achieved] through retention studies, captive feasibility studies and financial linkages to the balance sheet. The decision to buy should be based on value, not cost.

Insurers must offer more linked, client-focused solutions rather than  individual, service-orientated products’

Clients are not getting a holistic risk-based solution. Insurers sell insurance, brokers do placement and account management, while claims, risk, valuations and software management are spread across various parties. Insurers must offer more linked, client-focused solutions rather than  individual, service-orientated products. 

Jessie Tjioe, chief executive, Howden Insurance Brokers (Singapore)
As Singapore is a major insurance and reinsurance hub, the local market is constantly evolving to provide coverage enhancements, new and specialised products and insurance solutions to meet the changing needs, demands and risk exposures of clients.

[I would like to see] local regulatory and compliance assessment tools in the structuring of local policy requirements for global programmes and the multi-faceted risks and regulatory requirements of international clients operating across the globe.