How Italy’s Generali Is Connecting U.S. With Its Global Network

By | April 14, 2016

The U.S. branch of Generali’s Global Corporate & Commercial business unit has launched a property insurance product for U.S.-based multinational corporations.

GC&C is a relative new kid on the block in insurance terms, having launched quietly three years ago. Since then it has carefully chosen a suite of products and a geographic spread that matches its intention to provide point-of-sale expertise.

GC&C’s newest product, called TRIBUNE, has a global capacity of up to $250 million and provides comprehensive coverage for U.S. corporations’ domestic and overseas exposures via a “controlled master program,” which leverages the global capabilities of Generali.

TRIBUNE customers will be able to access the global loss control and mitigation services provided by BELFOR Property Restoration, said a statement issued by GC&C.

Generali has been covering international companies with U.S. operations. Now it's working in the primary market for U.S. multinationals, connecting them to Generali's network.

With the ability to issue admitted policies in 145 countries through its network, Generali provides “the advantages of an established global network, such as cross-border premium transfers, local claims adjusting and claims settlement as well as local servicing capabilities and a very broad international network of loss control engineers,” said Andrew Sims, senior vice president of Property & Construction at GC&C in New York City, during a recent interview.

“In an increasingly interconnected world, when you have multiple insurers handling your insurance, you run the risk of certain risks falling between the cracks,” he said. “One of the reasons a multinational program is so attractive is because it provides global consistency.”

Video: Bill Skapof, head of Generali's global corporate business in the U.S., on why now is a good time for Generali to connect more with U.S.

“TRIBUNE was specifically designed to respond to the unique challenges of cross-border risk management for multinational corporations based in the U.S. and to avoid the pitfalls of insurance fragmentation across country lines,” said Sims in a statement issued by GC&C.

A controlled master program provides a centrally administered global program in addition to local policies with local claims adjusters, loss control engineers and servicing. The master policy wraps around “the local coverages and provides a consistent level of global coverage,” Sims explained in the interview, noting that this is especially important for manufacturing companies dealing with complex supply chain exposures.

A controlled master policy is a bit like a speed dial, he continued. “You don’t have to keep a list of 50 different insurers that are insuring your assets.”

If something goes wrong, the customer makes one call to its account executive at Generali in New York, Sims said.

Generali in the U.S.

Founded in Trieste, Italy in 1831, Generali has had a branch in the U.S. for more than 50 years. Approximately 1,200 people work in the U.S. under different brands such as European Assistance and Generali Employee Benefits—businesses that generate $1 billion in annual revenue for Generali.

Meanwhile, GC&C launched only three years ago at the behest of Mario Greco, Generali’s former CEO, who recently left the company to become CEO of Zurich Insurance.

“We’ve been fairly successful….with approximately $2 billion in revenue on a global basis, writing at below a 100 percent combined ratio,” said Bill Skapof, head of GC&C U.S.A.

Generali has been active for the past 20 years on a reverse flow basis, covering international companies with U.S. operations, he explained. “Now we’re working in the primary market for U.S. multinationals, connecting them to Generali’s extensive network.”

GC&C is focused on four areas: reverse flow, global property (which includes U.S. exposures), non-U.S. casualty and construction (for the top 400 contractors with U.S. and international risks).

“All of those areas leverage the existing infrastructure and strength of Generali,” Skapof said. “We want to be able to add value. We’re not looking to do something that everybody is doing and come in at it with no experience or capabilities.”

“There is a degree of specialization about what we are doing within GC&C, not just in North America but around the world,” agreed Sims. “We are not just looking to add relatively passive capacity to an already crowded market. We want to pick [business] where we have a genuine claim to market-leading expertise and market-leading resources and platform.”

That’s why GC&C has focused initially on these four business areas. “As the business develops and as we feel we have the ability to bring those kinds of skills and resources to other parts of the P/C world, then we’ll develop those too,” Sims explained.

Skapof admitted the insurance business has changed dramatically over the past few years with the use of big data and predictive modeling. While these tools are essential, “we want to balance them with a more human approach,” he said, emphasizing that relationships are still key to the insurance business.

“We’re very focused on bringing expertise to the point of sale, something that has been diluted over the last number of years in the industry. We take a very different approach.”

No Legacy Issues

He said that GC&C benefits from the fact that it has no legacy issues, so “we can look at new risk or an existing risk with a fresh perspective, be a little bit more flexible, a bit more creative and more responsive.”

The new TRIBUNE property program “is all about bringing the best in the market together so we can serve our clients very, very well,” Skapof said.

Moving Beyond Risk Transfer

Sims admitted that “it’s a miserable time to be starting a business in insurance anywhere in the world,” but “you can’t time the market.”

“You have to find a business model that makes sense through the cycle, not just at certain points in it,” Sims said.

He emphasized that it’s possible to “build a viable business at this point in the market cycle, particularly if you’re able to offer value outside of just a risk-transfer transaction,” while carefully choosing a suite of products and geographic spread.

Sims said the resources, tools and expertise that Generali provides globally “are the same thing we aim to deliver to insureds in the North American market.”

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