|By Michael L. Frank, President, Aquarius Capital The week of October 22, 2012, was the first reinsurance conference in the Dominican Republic. The conference was held in Santo Domingo with a focus on educating the insurance community in the Dominican Republic on reinsurance. Despite Hurricane Sandy’s attempt to sabotage the event, close to a 100 people, including insurance professionals and a large number of students studying math, science and business at Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) and Grupo Corporativo (GC) New Horizons, two prominent schools in the Dominican Republic. The conference kicked off with interviews with the Dominican Republic press, including interviews on two television shows (Metropolos and El Dia) and several radio shows followed by three days of seminars on all facets of the reinsurance industry, including presentations delivered in both English and Spanish on:
- Overview & History of Reinsurance
- Review of the US, London, Bermuda, Brazil, China & Other Markets
- Review of Reinsurance Company Structures including Captive Insurance Companies
- Financial Reporting, Reserves & Cash Flow Testing
- Turnkey Solutions including Underwriting and Claims Management
- Review of Specialty Products & Hybrid Reinsurance Solutions
- Social Media Strategies and New Products in the Reinsurance Market
- Sample Transactions and Case Studies in Life, Health, Annuity, and Property/Casualty
- Use of Trusts and Other Creative Finance Solutions
- Discussions of Catastrophe Coverages and Cat Bonds
- Review of Regulations and Opportunities in the Dominican Republic
The event was sponsored by international organizations from the Dominican Republic and the US, representing insurance, banking, education, legal, actuarial and professional associations. Some of the sponsoring organizations listed in alphabetical order include:
- Aquarius Capital
- Benedetto Laskay LLC
- El Mundo de las Negocios
- Escuela de Guaduados Unibe
- Franco & Acra Tecniseguros
- Fundacia Consenso, Renovacia y Cambio (CRC)
- GC New Horizons
- Grupo G8
- Hannover Life Re Company
- Humano ARS
- Langas Abinadar
- Pena Izquierdo
- Society of Actuaries Reinsurance Council
- University of Michigan
- Vivir Seguros
- WorldCare International Inc.and many others that either contributed content (speakers and material) to the meeting or sponsored events and activities.
The attendees were very enthusiastic, asking a variety of questions with open discussions on the opportunities and needs for improvements in the country to grow the reinsurance market. The event hit some speed bumps along the way with Sandy hitting the country and damaging many of the facilities. However, the staff at UNIBE and GC New Horizons developed creative solutions in order to keep the conference on track. Some memorable moments included:
- The first sign of the storm when Don Rusconi (Aquarius Capital) was presenting while the walls of UNIBE started to shake and move.
- The power going out and sounds of breaking window during a luncheon.
- Individuals on motorboats and water skis driving through the middle of town.
- Fifty foot-high waves hitting the shoreline and highways while we were driving to the airport (only to land in New York to have Sandy catch up with us two days later).
- Flooding into the Hotel Embajador (some may remember this hotel from the scenes in theGodfather Part II in Cuba, which was actually filmed in Dominican Republic) while a large number of hotel staff worked feverishly trying get the water out of the hotel during Fashion Week. It was interesting to see Fashion Week and the Reinsurance Conference occurring simultaneously with a unique blend of insurance professionals and super models.
Despite the obstacles, the event was a success and there appears to be a significant interest to grow the reinsurance economy in the Dominican Republic. The blend of tourism and commerce makes the Dominican Republic a potentially attractive market, although developing the infrastructure it needs to be a true insurance economy is not without obstacles and challenges. In addition, improving professional insurance education in the Dominican Republic through exporting expertise and training becomes essential, while promoting organic growth of insurance professionals. This may include the expansion of licensing and continuing education programs for insurance brokers, claims adjusters, actuaries, underwriters and other insurance professionals through partnerships and universities as a good starting point. Feedback from attendees highlighted the need for operational and regulatory changes to encourage compliance of insurance organizations and encourage the marketing/consumption of insurance products. This may include formations of organizations such as Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), for example, to deal with establishing public policy and guidelines while working with the local insurance regulators and insurance companies to establish policies and market conduct. At minimum, a first step could be to establish work groups within the country and volunteers from outside the Dominican Republic to focus in this area. Special Acknowledgements In addition to the sponsors, we offer a special thank you to the staff of UNIBE and Grupo Corporativo New Horizons for hosting the event and helping manage the chaos resulting from Sandy. I would also like to thank Fauntly Garrido (GC New Horizons), Luis GonzÃ¡lez (CRC) and Jose Flores (LICAS) and their teams for making the conference a success, both in content and safety, and hosting presenters and providing a tour of Santo Domingo. I am looking forward to the next conference, although hopefully the event will be a little less memorable. About the Author Michael L. Frank, ASA, FCA, MAAA, is president and actuary, Aquarius Capital, an adjunct professor at Columbia University, and instructor for the Society of Actuaries LEARN program, educating insurance regulators on reinsurance. He is a former Reinsurance Section Council member and 2011 president of the Actuarial Society of Greater New York. He can be reached at (914) 933-0063 orMichael.Frank@AquariusCapital.com.