The theme of the 2013 Property Casualty Insurers Association of America's annual meeting reflects the increasingly rapid pace of change and the heightened uncertainty in politics and economics.
The forces behind this year's theme — “Essential Strategies for Succeeding in a Hyper-Competitive World” — all have an effect on the property/casualty industry, PCI President David Sampson said. “We're living in a period of more rapid pace of change and more uncertainty in the macroeconomic and political environment,” he said.
The insurance industry itself is experiencing technological innovation and increased competition in a period of slow economic recovery and a low-interest-rate environment that has cut insurers' investment income, Mr. Sampson said.
“How do you position your company to compete and thrive in that kind of world?” he asked.
Organizations and companies tied to past economic or industry environments are going to find it very challenging, he said.
“There is an overwhelming imperative to understand the new realities that we are living in,” the PCI president said. “Our job as a trade association is to help our members look over that horizon and anticipate what is coming,” and adapt to a changing environment.
“Throughout the rest of the year, executives are focused on their granular plans,” he said.
The annual meeting gives them an “opportunity to step back and look at the big picture” and view emerging threats, so that when they go back home they can be thinking about specific realities, Mr. Sampson said.
That's reflected in the speaker lineup here in Boston. Scheduled speakers include business adviser Ram Charan; former U.S. Navy SEAL Robert J. O'Neill; former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; and A.M. Best Co. Inc. Senior Vice President Matthew Mosher.
“There are threats from the outside that can destabilize a very competitive and consumer-focused market competition,” said Robert Restrepo, incoming PCI chairman, who also is chairman, president and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based State Auto Insurance Cos.
The big concern is that “we have been a stable industry and we're being threatened by bank-centric policies and attitudes” that don't fit the property/casualty insurance industry, and don't respond to consumer needs, Mr. Restrepo said.
While the property/casualty industry is “very well positioned,” it tends to get lumped in by some federal and international regulatory agencies with banks that don't relate to the business of insurance, he said. “We don't think the Western European regulatory system is a model” for regulating U.S. insurers, he said. PCI has long been a vocal supporter of state insurance regulation.