GIAJ Chairman's Statement released on June 29, 2007 (Translation)
"Making steady progress: Restoring consumer confidence in our industry"
--- Creating a firm bond of trust with customers through general insurance ---
（June 29, 2007）
The role of general insurance is to provide assurance for consumers against various risks found in everyday life, and to pay claims once an accident happens. For this reason, to identify accurately the needs and intentions of the customer first and then to explain the insurance product in an easy and customer-friendly way are fundamental for a general insurer to ensure its customers fully understand the policy they are purchasing. Also, needless to say, in case an accident should happen, general insurers are responsible for reacting promptly, and paying claims without delay or error.
Despite such basic principles, incidents of insurance premium miscalculations, inadvertent non-payment of claims and similar issues had surfaced in the general insurance industry, leaving many consumers inconvenienced and dissatisfied. Therefore, restoring consumer confidence in our industry is an absolute top priority.
Currently, GIAJ member companies are reviewing their entire business process, everything from the sale of a policy to the payment of a claim, with a particular attention to customer satisfaction and focus on quality. The GIAJ too has placed the restoration of consumer confidence at the very core of its current Mid-Term Fundamental Business Plan, and is carrying out various initiatives while supporting each member company's actions in this field.
During the next 12 months, I intend to continue to build on the work of my predecessors, strengthen existing measures and actions, launch new ones, and step by step, I promise to make steady progress in restoring consumer confidence in our industry. To this end, I am committed to carrying out my responsibilities and achieving my goals as the Chairman of the GIAJ.
Key Measures and Actions
1. Measures and Actions Supporting GIAJ Member Companies
Currently, member companies are undertaking a thorough review of their product line-up, training and education of insurance agents/solicitors, and claims payment systems. The GIAJ will support such efforts of member companies by exercising the following measures:
(1) Support for the Improvement of Business Quality
In order to promote further improvement of member companies' management systems and business quality, we have worked on setting out various guidelines such as "Guideline for Description of Solicitation Materials, etc.", "Self-Imposed Guideline on Payment for Insurance Claims", and "Guidelines for 3rd Sector Insurance Products".
We will continue to work on the fine-tuning and improvements of such guidelines. In particular, we will work on setting guidelines related to underwriting and insurance soliciting in order to promote further the ongoing efforts to prevent inappropriate underwriting such as insurance premium miscalculations from ever reoccurring.
Furthermore, we will study ways to make our products (and policy wordings) more reader-friendly so that our customers can accurately understand the policies they are considering, then choose and purchase them worry-free. We will also be reviewing the text and terminology used in our brochures and pamphlets, and see whether we can use language which is easier to understand.
2. Measures and Actions to be carried out by the GIAJ
(1) Promoting Consumer Understanding
We will continue to promote the publicity of the "General Insurance Buyers' Guide" and the "Policyholders' Guide for Filing Claims with General Insurers" which we published last year, and make it more accessible to all consumers. We will also strengthen our dialogue with consumer-related government agencies and organizations, and further promote consumer understanding on general insurance.
In addition, we will utilize public communication activities, such as newspaper ads and television commercials, to promote the new confirmation process that is required when one enters into an insurance contract, namely the use of the confirmation paper designed to ensure that the product meets the customers needs.
(2) Reflecting Consumers' Opinions into Business Practices
Last year, in addition to the "General Insurance Counseling Department", we had actively gathered invaluable consumer opinions and requests through the newly established "Advisory Panel to Listen to Consumers' Voices". Based on the various opinions we received, we published the "Guideline for Description of Solicitation Materials, etc." and "General Insurance Buyers' Guide". We also fed back such opinions and voices to member companies, and promoted improvements in their business processes.
This year, we will introduce the "Advisor System on General Insurance" and as we continue to reinforce such measures and actions, we will also strengthen our dialogue with the media and press, listen to opinions based on the views of consumers, and reflect them accordingly in our business practices.
(3) More Appropriate Introduction of Insurance Products to Consumers
The enhancement of agents'/solicitors' quality of service is essential for insurers to introduce products to consumers in a more appropriate manner. We are planning to improve the qualification examination for agents/solicitors, and also introduce a qualification renewal system. We will be implementing these measures accordingly.
(4) Improving GIAJ's Response System to Consumer
Complaints and Requests for Assistance
Last year, we reinforced our organization structure to respond better to consumer complaints and requests for assistance.
This year, we will focus on the software side, such as improving the quality of training programs for General Insurance Consultants and also related manuals. We will also disclose the number of consumer complaints that the GIAJ receives per member company, and raise the level of transparency regarding insurers' complaints response systems.
We will undertake a review of the GIAJ's consumer complaints response functions, and reinforce our role in resolving such complaints.
In closing, I would like to add that the GIAJ's work will not be limited to the restoration of consumer confidence in our industry. We will also be working on a wide range of issues, such as the amendment of the insurance contract law, the revision of the solvency margin ratio regime, industry requests for regulatory reform, industry-wide promotion on theft prevention and disaster prevention, just to name a few. All are vitally important matters for the general insurance industry, and we will continue to address these issues during the course of the year.
Furthermore, in association with our dealings with the Public Corporation Reform Law, we will consider what kind of organization the GIAJ ought to be. And lastly, I would point out that as insurance companies continue to expand their operations on a global scale, international efforts on harmonizing insurance regulations and supervisory rules are becoming more active than ever. The GIAJ will actively participate in such discussions and issue necessary statements and suggestions based on mid- and long-term views.