The GIAJ Chairman's Statement (Translation)
(March 15, 2018

Noriyuki Hara, ChairmanNoriyuki Hara, Chairman

 Nearly nine months have passed since I assumed office as Chairman of the GIAJ in June last year. I would like to report on our activities and related events since my previous statement delivered in December 2017.

1. Adoption of the Eighth Mid-Term Business Plan

 Today, we adopted the Eighth Mid-Term Business Plan (from fiscal 2018 to 2020) at our board meeting. At the commencement of our 101st year, this plan is expected to guide our association towards dramatic progress in the new era.

 Reflecting on our 100-year history and looking towards the future, we crystallized the direction of the general insurance industry in the form of four pillars. They are designed to ensure that the industry achieves its social role as "risk bearer" while at the same time maintaining sustainable growth. For each pillar, we decided upon the priority issues that need to be addressed in the coming years. From April this year, we will drive forward with industry-wide initiatives to address them.

(1) Swift and proper responses to environmental changes

 Developments in information technology are bringing about significant changes to society at an ever-accelerating rate. At the same time, the risks that threaten our world are transforming. Therefore, we will respond proactively and properly to the changing environment, contributing to building a worry-free, safe society and enhancing consumer convenience.

 In particular, we will work on responses to technological innovations by developing appropriate industry-wide measures to address innovations such as self-driving technology. We will also focus on dealing with more diverse and larger risks including the emerging threats of cyber attacks and terrorism, and intensifying natural disasters. As well as being engaged in disaster-prevention and reduction activities, we will deepen survey and research activities on emerging risks. Moreover, we will promote efforts to respond to societal changes such as "super-aging". In addition to striving to prevent traffic accidents involving senior citizens, we will face up squarely with other social circumstances such as the rising importance of diversity in society and continue with our initiatives to contribute to the development of sustainable society.

(2) Promotion of customer-oriented business operations

 We will further raise customer satisfaction levels by enhancing the quality of business operations at insurance companies and agencies and fostering even greater understanding of general insurance among consumers.

 We will promote our activities by sharing best practices among member companies and revising existing guidelines. For customers, we will disseminate information and provide opportunities for learning in a consumer-friendly manner to raise their awareness of risks. At the same time, we will make efforts to strengthen our dialogue with customers, gain a precise understanding of customer needs and reflecting them in our activities based on the customer voices received by our association and member companies.

(3) Establishment of a more robust and stable general insurance system

 To fulfil the social role of general insurance in the years to come, we will strengthen stability of the general insurance system and focus on fairness among policyholders.

 In addition, to accomplish the most fundamental functions of general insurance, we will further develop our readiness to deal with large-scale earthquakes by reinforcing loss survey systems. With regard to ensuring the soundness of the insurance system, we will focus on strengthening antifraud measures and preventing fraudulent claims. To this end, we will establish and utilize systems to help detect and prevent such claims, and accumulate relevant knowledge through joint research with outside experts.

(4) Furthering our roles in international insurance markets

 To ensure that the general insurance industry in Japan continues to achieve steady growth and contribute to society, we will further improve our presence within the globalizing market and raise the level of public confidence in us.

 Regarding insurance supervision and regulation, we will promote proper responses to international standards. While properly expressing our opinions on various issues in close cooperation with related parties, whether domestic or overseas, we will concentrate on discussions with regulators involved, with a view to developing domestic standards harmonized with international standards. In the interest of assisting overseas business of Japan-based general insurance companies, we will work towards achieving a level-playing-field across markets around the world. We will also work on providing greater support to emerging markets by sharing our knowledge with the objective to contribute to the stability and prosperity in Asia's growing general insurance markets and improve confidence in our industry as well.

2. Other activities

(1) Responding to natural disasters

(i) Disaster prevention and reduction

 Weather-related natural disasters continue to intensify, as seen in the torrential downpour that hit northern Kyushu last year, and we have advanced our activities towards disaster prevention and reduction in collaboration with the Meteorological Agency and local meteorological observatories.

 Today, we launched a new website on disaster prevention that can be accessed via our homepage. It is a portal site that guides users to disaster-prevention related information provided by various sources including our association. In cooperation with the Meteorological Agency and the General Insurance Rating Organization of Japan, we created a database covering the scale of damage and the volume of claim payments corresponding to each past typhoon and flood. We believe those data are a useful indicator of correlation between the severity of disasters and magnitude of claim payments, helping preparating for natural disasters with more concrete damages envisioned. We will supply helpful information in a manner that best fits our industry.

 We held a series of local disaster-prevention promotion events, one in Ibaraki Prefecture in January and another in Hiroshima Prefecture in February, inviting external lecturers with support by each local meteorological observatory. In February, we participated in the educational disaster-prevention event in Tokyo concerning large-scale earthquakes held by the Meteorological Agency. At this event, we introduced a card game titled "Bo-sai Duck (Disaster Prevention Duck)" for children, as well as a hands-on safety education program called "Bo-sai Tankentai (Exploration for Disaster-Prevention)" for elementary-school pupils. We will continue to promote effective activities for disaster-prevention and reduction, by cooperating with the Meteorological Agency and other related parties and utilizing broader knowledge and know-how.

(ii) Promotion of earthquake insurance

 We have promoted earthquake insurance, recently taking opportunities to contribute to local disaster-prevention activities at the municipal level.

 In February, we held an "Earthquake and Disaster-Prevention Forum in Yokohama" in collaboration with Yokohama City, attracting around 400 interested participants. After the introduction by the city hall on current good practices at local levels, we delivered a lecture entitled "The Functions and Roles of Earthquake Insurance" and encouraged the audience to prepare for disasters by means of earthquake insurance. We also highlighted the importance of earthquake preparedness during the panel discussion.

 In February, we spoke about the necessity of preparing for earthquakes at the "Disaster-Prevention Seminar - To Protect Our Lives from Earthquakes" in Nagano prefecture. This event was held by the prefectural council which was established to promote earthquake insurance and cooperative earthquake insurance in the Shinshu region and to which our association is a member organization.

 We will continue to work on activities that link awareness-raising of earthquake risks with promotion of earthquake insurance at the local community level.

(iii) Revising our association's Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

 We have a business continuity plan in place so that our association and our member companies continue and/or promptly resume their operations even in the event of a mega disaster such as massive earthquake. Recently, given the increasing concern regarding the possibility of a massive earthquake, we substantially revised the plan to make it even more practical and effective.

 The revised plan points out three key functions, including damage survey for earthquake insurance claims, as high-priorities in the event operations of our Tokyo headquarters be suspended due to a large-scale disaster, and accordingly expanded the substitute functions of our branch office in Osaka. Aiming to develop business continuity management as a whole, we also incorporated an implementation plan on education and training as well. We will make efforts to ensure that our BCP takes root within the industry and works effectively in times of emergency.

(2) Globalization

 On January 15th, our association concluded a cooperation memorandum agreement with the Myanmar Insurance Association on the occasion of the ceremonial event commemorating its establishment. We had been providing support in various forms, including workshops and seminars, in collaboration with relevant organizations. Building upon these efforts, the memorandum aims to further strengthen our relationships. Based on the memorandum, we look toward promoting sound development of the general insurance market in Myanmar by sharing our skills and experiences. In accordance with the memorandum, we will continue to provide concrete support that matches the country's needs by gaining insight and awareness of the status of its insurance market.

 In January, I visited the Thai General Insurance Association as part of continued efforts to strengthen relationships with overseas insurance associations. This was the fourth overseas insurance association that I visited during my tenure, next to the UK, Indonesian and Malaysian equivalents. I met the chairman of the Thai association and exchanged views on the grade rating system used in Japanese non-fleet auto insurance, reaffirming our mutual desire to make the already close ties between our associations even closer. In order to work towards further enhancing our standing, both domestically and overseas, we will continue to strengthen our relationships with related organizations.

(3) Improving the quality of insurance business administration

 With the objective to enhance the quality of solicitation across the industry, our association has worked to increase the number of "General Insurance Total Planners", insurance solicitors awarded our most prestigious qualification.

 This distinguished credential requires completion of the "Consulting Course" program, one of the "General Insurance College Courses", and passing of the accreditation test. As a result of encouraging insurance solicitors, a record 2,235 applicants are set to take the Consulting Course starting this April, an increase of 476 year-on-year.

 Since the first group was awarded certification in June 2014, the number of General Insurance Total Planners has been steadily increasing. As of February 28th this year, a total of 11,338 sales staff had been so qualified. We will continue to work on accelerating our awareness-raising activities toward this qualification with the aim of promoting top-quality solicitation.

3. Conclusion

 There are about 3 months left until the end of my tenure as Chairman of the GIAJ.

 We completed the Seventh Mid-Term Business Plan this month and will launch the Eighth Mid-Term Business Plan in April. To ensure further growth of the industry, we are determined to proceed with the plan in a timely manner so that our association, now in its 101st year and taking a great step in the new era, achieves further success.

 We would highly appreciate your continued support and cooperation.

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