The GIAJ Chairman's Statement (Translation)
Dec. 19, 2019
I would like to report and make some comments on our activities since my last press briefing in September.
I wish to extend my sincerest condolences to the victims and offer my sympathies to the bereaved families and to all those who have been affected by the recent series of natural disasters.
The general insurance industry will continue to focus on providing prompt and proper claim payments to victims and will respond sincerely to consultation requests by customers affected by these disasters. As of December 9th 2019, the estimated claim payments for accepted claims for Typhoon No.15 (Faxai) and Typhoon No.19 (Hagibis) total 746.4 billion yen. We are making claim payments sequentially to serve all those affected.
2. Responses to natural disasters
(1) Responses to recent natural disasters
In order to take all possible measures to respond to damages caused by disasters including Typhoon No.15 (Faxai) and Typhoon No.19 (Hagibis), we have established the "2019 Natural Disaster Central Command", which is headed by the Chairman, at its head office in Tokyo. and is making the following efforts to support consumers and member companies.
Firstly, in the case of consumers that suffered damages in areas where the Disaster Relief Act has been applied, special measures have been taken to suspend the procedure for concluding renewal contracts and payment for insurance premiums for 6 months. In addition to the work carried out by the "center for responses to consumer consultations and complaints related to general insurance", if a consumer is unsure which insurance company they made a contract with, the "inquiry center for natural disaster general insurance contracts" is able to help.
In addition, in cooperation with the government, information leaflets describing contact points for insurance company consultations and accidents have been posted and also distributed to evacuation shelters. Also, we are providing customers with the information on GIAJ's responses and the contact of our member companies for inquiries, by using our website and newspaper ads. In order for consumers to avoid having trouble with unscrupulous home repair companies, we are also raising awareness in cooperation with the National Life Center.
Next, on the assumption that some contractors are unable to carry out insurance claim procedures smoothly due to the disasters, we requested member companies to conduct activities to encourage insurance claim procedures.
As such, each member company have set up a response headquarters at both their head office and on-site, and have taken measures such as strengthening their accident reception systems by increasing the number of call center staff, and by encouraging claims procedures to contractors living in the disaster area together with agents. Aside from the above, we have conducted claim payments using an accident reception service via the Internet, utilized digitized and paperless procedural documents, improved operational efficiency by using RPA and surveyed the damages with Artificial Intelligence (AI), drones and satellite images to make prompt and appropriate claims payments.
(2) Midterm Issues
The large-scale natural disasters that have occurred frequently for the second consecutive year have forced us to re-recognize that Japan is a country constantly exposed to natural disaster risks, and that it is therefore necessary, more than ever, to strengthen our current efforts and be prepared for new issues. In order to respond more effectively to future natural disasters, we will form a new project team to examine the experiences and awareness gained from the recent series of disasters. In addition, regarding the catastrophe loss reserve system that is indispensable for the general insurance industry to maintain and secure financial soundness, we will work with various related parties and consider a drastic review from the aspects of taxation, including its ideal state.
(3) Natural disaster risk education
(i) Contribution to education: Disaster prevention event
We participated in the "National Conference for Promoting Disaster Risk Reduction (Bousai-kokutai) 2019". It was held by the Cabinet Office, etc., and we explained our responses to Typhoon No.15 (Faxai) and Typhoon No.19 (Hagibis) during the "Typhoon Disaster Emergency Information Sharing Meeting" emergency session. We were able to exchange opinions with major industry organizations, the government, and academia. In addition, we hosted a panel discussion on the theme of countermeasures and preparations for a "Nankai Trough Earthquake" and conducted awareness raising activities regarding disaster-resilient community development, disaster prevention education and the importance of earthquake insurance.
(ii) Disaster prevention for children
We have been promoting an "Exploration for Disaster Prevention" activity, where children create maps under the themes of disaster prevention, crime prevention and traffic safety to heighten awareness of disaster prevention at the local level. Since 2004, we have been holding the "Exploration for Disaster Prevention map-making competition". In fiscal 2019, we held the 16th annual competition for elementary school pupils. On that occasion, we received 594 group entries from 16,492 children, including elementary schools in 47 prefectures nationwide, children's centers, children's associations, and boys and girls fire clubs who participated in the program. The number of entries totaled 2,541, and the prize-winning works will be decided from among them. We will hold an awards ceremony for the winners of our "Exploration for Disaster Prevention map-making competition" on January 25th, 2020.
(iii) Promoting earthquake insurance
We are working on improving market penetration of earthquake insurance via TV commercials, and newspaper and Internet ads. We are working to promote consumer understanding of earthquake risks and the necessity of having earthquake insurance. On December 26th, we will broadcast a special TV program which introduces a simulated Nankai Trough earthquake and provides an overview of earthquake insurance under the title of: "A large-scale earthquake hits you - How to protect your life and living". In the program we strongly advocate the necessity of preparing for the large-scale earthquakes that are expected to occur in the future.
3. Responses to senior citizens and foreign nationals
1. Responses to senior citizens
With the aim of reducing the number of traffic accidents involving senior citizens, we are promoting awareness-raising activities for safe driving in cooperation with local police and municipalities. On November 16th, an event for senior drivers called "Safety Driving Forum in Saitama" was held. In addition to lectures by experts on autonomous driving and advanced vehicle safety technology, we also held a "Safety Support Car" test-driving event. We will continue to hold events for senior drivers to raise their safe-driving awareness and call on the use of support cars to prevent accidents and reduce damage to senior drivers.
2. Responses to foreign nationals
In order to provide foreign nationals with pertinent information to use in times of disaster and to prevent accidents caused by foreign nationals, we have released leaflets that include warnings about the type of traffic accidents to which foreign nationals seem susceptible. To prevent accidents when riding share cycles and rental cycles, which increasing numbers of foreign tourists are using, we have also provided a leaflet called "CYCLING MAP & RULES IN TOKYO" that describes the rules and manners of cycling in Japan. We will continue with our preparations to create an environment where foreign nationals can stay secure during next year's Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
4. Other Issues
(1) Responses to self-driving technology
We set up a page dedicated to providing information on autonomous driving on our website. On September 30th, we released the latest information on self-driving technology on the page, and in response to a series of accidents by senior drivers, also added an FAQ (frequently asked questions) section related to the use of cars equipped with Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems and safe driving support systems. We will continue to contribute to the realization of a safe and secure autonomous driving society by continually providing the latest information.
(2) Responses to Cyber risks
In order to promote understanding of cyber risks and the use of cyber insurance, we publicized a video on November 1st entitled, "Cyber risks and Preparation via Cyber Insurance". It illustrates the effectiveness of insurance preparation, the impact of cyber-attacks on companies, and the content covered by cyber insurance. We will continue to raise awareness of cyber risks and promote the importance of obtaining cyber insurance by providing information via the media and through various events.
(3) Donation of small fire engines and high-standard ambulance cars
In order to contribute to the strengthening of regional fire-fighting capabilities and the upgrading of regional emergency medical systems, our Association has been donating small fire engines and high-standard ambulances to municipalities around the nation since 1952. This year, we donated 21 vehicles including to remote islands, which brings the total number of vehicles donated to 5,129. These vehicles are used for firefighting and emergency life-saving activities as well as for fire drills that raise awareness of disaster prevention among residents.
(4) Responses to international standards
At the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) Annual Conference 2019 in Abu Dhabi on November 14th, various international standards were adopted which focus on the "Common Framework (ComFrame)" to supervise Internationally Active Insurance Groups (IAIGs). In the future, we will make timely and appropriate comments and submit our opinions on establishing a domestic legal system based on international standards.
(5) Activities to enhance the general insurance markets of Asia
On October 7th, the GIAJ concluded a cooperation memorandum to strengthen our relationship with the Thai General Insurance Association (TGIA). The TGIA and the GIAJ will continue to make efforts to develop the insurance markets of both countries and improve their economies and national life through sharing their expertise and experiences, and by exchanging opinions at seminars, etc.
We also participated in the annual meeting of the ASEAN Insurance Council which is compromised of the insurance associations of the 10 ASEAN member countries and with which GIAJ concluded a cooperation memorandum last year. We made a proposal on improving insurance solicitation expertise.
This year we have focused on two priority issues: "Responses to natural disasters" and "Responses to Senior citizens and foreign nationals". Over the past three months, we have focused particularly on responding to natural disasters.
When I visited Fukushima Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture, which were severely affected by Typhoon No.19 (Hagibis), I was lost for words. The damage I saw was much more serious than what had been reported via the press. On the other hand, as Chairman of the GIAJ, I was strongly convinced that I wanted to help reconstruct the lives of those affected by fulfilling the mission of the general insurance industry and paying insurance claims promptly and appropriately. In order to restore the affected areas as soon as possible, we will continue to stand at the forefront of the industry and do our best alongside our member companies.
Also, given the repeated occurrence of large-scale natural disasters, we believe that it is necessary to create a resilient Japan by thinking further responses to normalized natural disasters as "ALL JAPAN". The General insurance industry will work on the above-mentioned medium-term issues and strengthen disaster prevention and mitigation efforts according to the actual situation in each region. In addition, we would also like to promote educational activities on the importance of efforts that combine self-help, mutual assistance, and public assistance.
Next year, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held. In helping create an environment where foreign visitors can stay safe in the time of disaster, the general insurance industry would like to contribute by promoting such international events. We will also continue with activities to raise awareness of the risks of cyber-attacks.
We will continue to proceed with the Eighth Mid-Term Business Plan, with the perspective to contribute to the realization of a sustainable society (SDGs) and to promote innovation ("Society 5.0"). We will continue to accomplish our social mission to realize a "safe, secure and sustainable society" while "stabilizing and improving the economy, and people's lives".
We would highly appreciate your continued support and cooperation.