What is the state of the Jamaican market?
SHARON DONALDSON We are excited about the growing demand in real estate because that means more properties to be insured and more risks to take on as a partner for those new property owners. Therefore, we are excited about it and we stand ready to be a risk partner. In terms of transportation, we also provide motorist insurance. We have gone into the public passenger vehicle (PPV) market and again are excited to be able to provide coverage. We would love to impact the PPV market in a different way and change it to become more orderly and structured. If we can get the owners of the PPV market to understand the importance of having a good risk partner and how important it is for their own growth that they be insured, in time things will get much better for them. Traditionally, we do not write PPV business but believe that as a leader in the industry we should try and influence the direction of the industry as much as we can for the greater good of the economy.
MARK THOMPSON We have been able to strike a balance between having the largest net premium position and not sending it all out to the re-insurance market. We are the largest motor writer and write close to 30% of the market, so it is in our DNA. Many times an insurance company wants to do everything; however, it has to decide on an area to focus on. It comes down to one simple thing for us: we love writing motor insurance, as that is our strength. We are pleased to create a product that everyone wants and that we can bring down to the simplest levels and apply to everyone across the board. With motor in the past, it used to be the case that there were certain segments of the motor portfolio that insurers were not interested in. We take anything as long as we get the right rate for it and have done a great job in pricing our service delivery to make a reasonable rate of return without cutting anyone out or increasing our rates. Certain segments of our operation generate decent profits, and we have not moved the rates for five to six years, which does not burden clients with continued rate increase every year; if it performs well we share that back with our clients.
What are the challenges and opportunities in the general insurance sector in Jamaica?
SD One major challenge is to get the purchasing public to understand the value of insurance. It is reasonably well accepted by business owners. That is not the issue; it is on the personal lines business that we need to get more individual insurers to understand the importance of purchasing insurance as a safety net to protect their most important valuable assets. Hence, the challenge is getting the individual buying public, which is what we call the personal lines, to understand the importance of insurance. The second challenge is being able to sell it to them at an affordable price because we are competing with individuals' everyday domestic purchasing power. Is insurance at the top of the line? No, food, travel, school fees, and everything else comes first. Therefore, it is about getting people to understand that they need to purchase it, but also for us to be able to package that for them at affordable prices.
MT In many cases everyone wants to ensure that any organization they are a part of has created a value or purpose while they were there. A large part of this is making certain there is a more dedicated and talented group of employees, with one being open enough to impart a great deal of their knowledge and perspectives. I have done some of that and can still do more. If we take the position that we are not growing or cannot do more, then it is probably best to step out as one is not adding any value at that point; there is a great deal I would love to do in that regard. As for an organization that serves its customers, in our culture it is common for one to know someone to receive excellent service. One of my goals is to leave behind an organization where everyone is linked up and one does not need to know anyone to get excellent service: this is the chief challenge that I hope the company can overcome and the service it will provide. As we go through and look at technologies, we need to understand that for all the technology out there, we cannot just make sure we are best in class in Jamaica or the Caribbean, but internationally as well