The GIAJ Chairman's Statement (Translation)
June 11, 2020
I would like to report on the progress made on our major initiatives during my one-year tenure and offer my views.
I wish to express our sincerest sympathies to the victims and all who have been affected by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19). I also wish to express our deep appreciation to health care workers and all other workers contributing to support our society for their efforts, courage and dedication.
1. Responses to Covid-19
About five months have already passed since Covid-19 was recognized as a social problem and it continues to be a threat around the world that affects our lives, society, and the economy. In Japan, although the government’s state of emergency declaration has been lifted, we need to continue our ongoing efforts and are taking steps to achieve both infection control and social and economic recovery.
We set our basic policy for operations after the cancellation of government’s state of emergency declaration, and our member companies, in line with the policy, have been making every possible effort to both prevent further spread of the infection and continue providing necessary services to their customers.
In addition, from the perspective of assisting policyholders who have difficulties proceeding with their insurance premium payment, we have granted a moratorium on the continuation of insurance contracts and on payments of insurance premiums. Amendments and cancelation of Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance (CALI) was included in the scope of this moratorium for the first time.
Furthermore, some of our member companies have reviewed their products to cover Covid-19 related losses, such as compensation for emergency response cost in case an infection occurs in a store and the store is closed due to measures such as instructions for disinfection by a public health center. Also, medical treatment at temporary facilities other than hospitals such as hotels is included in the coverage. In addition, we are working on product development as well as consumer education regarding cyber risks, given that companies are expanding their efforts on telework.
This pandemic has affected tremendous changes in many industries including general insurance. Although we regularly review our working practices and ensure efficient and effective management, we will endeavor to take further steps in line with the government’s suggested ‘New Lifestyle’, such as removing face to face or paper based operations as well as seal requirements , with the aim of further meeting our customers’ evolving needs. We will continue to contribute to social and economic recovery as a part of Japan’s infrastructure.
2. Key issues in 2019
With the aim of contributing to the realization of a sustainable society (SDGs) and the promotion of innovation ("Society 5.0") highlighted in the Eighth Mid-Term Business Plan, last year we focused on two key issues: "Responses to natural disaster risks" and “Responses to senior citizens and foreign nationals”.
(1) Responses to natural disaster risks
a. Responses on natural disaster Project Team
In the wake of the large-scale natural disasters that occurred in fiscal 2018-2019, we have been discussing various industry challenges, such as enhancement of the insurance claim system in order to respond more effectively to the increasing severity of natural disasters. For example, we have been talking through the possibility of providing our member companies with images of affected areas taken by drones, light aircrafts, and satellites. We will continue to proceed with our preparations.
b. Regional education activities
Focusing on region-specific disaster prevention and disaster mitigation strategies, we conducted 61 educational activities around the country last year. For example, in July 2019, we held seminars on the theme of preparing for heavy rain in Okayama Prefecture, the area stricken by “The Heavy Rain Event of July 2018”. As "The 2018 Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake" had occurred the previous year, we also held an earthquake disaster prevention forum there in September. Additionally, in October, we engaged in educational activities on preparing for a Nankai Trough earthquake at the National Conference for Promoting Disaster Risk Reduction, which was held in Aichi Prefecture. In cooperation with concerned authorities and local governments, we will continue to engage in educational activities which convey the importance of “self-help, mutual assistance, and public assistance” during a disaster.
c. Disaster prevention education for children
We conducted our annual "Exploration for Disaster Prevention" event to raise children's awareness of disaster prevention and traffic safety. In fiscal 2019, 16,492 children belonging to 594 organizations such as elementary schools all across Japan participated in the event, the largest number to date. We will work together with the Independent Insurance Agents of Japan to further promote the program. We will also continue to engage in development of the exploration app, to be used with tablets in order to use technology to prepare for disasters in new and improved ways.
d. Promoting earthquake insurance
In order to promote consumer understanding of earthquake insurance and improve its market penetration, we are holding seminars for insurance agents in twelve locations across Japan, as well as promotion events for consumers. Moreover, we are working on TV advertising, distributing posters, and broadcasting a TV program based on preparation for a Nankai Trough earthquake.
In the wake of the above-mentioned marketing drive, as of March 2020 the number of earthquake insurance policies that have been written had increased to 19.7 million(*). We will continue to work on awareness-raising of earthquake risks while promoting the necessity of having earthquake insurance to prepare for future large-scale earthquakes.
* The total number of earthquake insurance policies written: 19,740, 800 (as of the end of March 2020, General Insurance Rating Organization of Japan), which is an increase of 3.9% (734,959) compared to March 2019.
(2) Responses to senior citizens and foreign nationals
a. Efforts towards prevention of traffic accidents involving senior citizens
In cooperation with the police, local governments, universities, and other concerned parties, we have conducted a total of 140 promotional events, such as traffic accident prevention events, and distribution of promotional goods. In September 2019, we distributed Pikachu reflecting wristbands and flyers in collaboration with The Pokémon Company. We also updated our "Introduction to Traffic-Accident-Prone Intersections" webpage to help our traffic safety promotion activities across Japan. In February 2020, we held the "Senior Traffic Accident Prevention Symposium" in Kagawa Prefecture and conducted a “Safety Support Car” test-driving event. In addition, we held lectures by experts and panel discussions that provided opinions from the perspectives of industry, government, academia and the civil society. In order to try and ensure further decreases in the number traffic accidents involving senior citizens, we will continue to work on awareness raising activities based on the situation in each area.
b. Responses to foreign nationals
With the aim of providing assistance to foreign visitors and residents, in September 2019 we launched the “Information on Staying Safe in Japan” page on our website. As of the end of May 2020, it had received more than 11,936 hits from 67 countries and regions via tie-ups with websites for foreign nationals. In December 2019, we published a leaflet on traffic accident prevention and the necessity of refraining from using smartphones whilst driving or walking. We then distributed them to regional police headquarters nationwide. We will continue to conduct educational activities to help foreign visitors and residents live safely in Japan.
We are fully aware that Covid-19 has catalyzed a 'fundamental change' that requires us to drastically alter our existing frameworks and concepts.
On the other hand, there are many other pressing issues in Japan, such as the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters, depopulation, and our super-aging society. It is certainly true that this infection has become a major crisis in Japan. However, at the same time we believe that it has led to us finding additional opportunities and a chance to step into unexplored fields. We also believe that if the government and different industries work together and coordinate their efforts, we can help overcome the various challenges facing Japan.
We, the general insurance industry, think that we should keep improving ourselves and make every possible effort to fulfill our mission as part of Japan’s social infrastructure by providing insurance covers for new risks. We are also determined to contribute to the “creation of a secure, safe and sustainable society” and the “stability and improvement of the economy and national life”.
We have raised key industry issues on my accession and have been able to move them forward as scheduled. On the other hand, considering that our responses to Covid-19 are only half done, I feel very sorry that I have to pass the baton to the incoming chairman to take over at this moment in time. However, I would be glad to support him as a member of the board of directors. Going forward, your continued understanding and cooperation with the Japanese General Insurance industry and the GIAJ would be greatly appreciated.
I would like to express our hearty gratitude for your support and cooperation this past year.