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Key results and conclusions of the International Conference " Agricultural Insurance, Reinsurance & Brokerage in CIS, Europe & Asia"

Conference Goals:
• Get a clear, practical view of insurance markets in the CIS & Asia and their development
• Assess challenges and opportunities existing on fast-growing agricultural insurance markets
• Enhance cooperation between insurance companies and governments of different countries
• Obtain effective instruments for spurring the development of CIS & Asian markets

The international conference Agricultural Insurance, Reinsurance & Brokerage in CIS, Europe and Asia was held in Kiev, on March 4 – 6, 2013. The event was attended by 104 delegates from 22 countries representing 74 companies.

The conference was attended by reinsurance companies, insurance companies, broker firms, banks, agricultural holdings and insurance consultants. Representatives of the International Association of Agricultural Insurers (AIAG), the National Union of Agricultural Insurers of Russia and the Ukrainian League of Insurance Organizations participated in this event as well.

Other guests and active participants included representatives of  government agencies and ministries of countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkey.

Agricultural Insurance Development in Different Countries

A variety of agricultural insurance markets existing in such countries as Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Poland, Austria, Turkey, Israel, South Africa, and others were discussed during the conference . Most of these countries put special emphasis on the importance of subsidized agricultural insurance. Professional associations of agricultural insurers are also greatly involved in fostering the development of their respective national markets.

According to Necati Icer, the technical manager of agricultural insurance pool TARSIM, over six years of their strong experience on the Turkish market, their company has succeeded in training more than 1,700 loss adjusters and surveyors in agricultural insurance. In Turkey, such specialists are proportionally divided between livestock and crop insurance. Key crops insured in Turkey include wheat, tomatoes, grapes and olives. Overall, farmers in Turkey can insure a total of 36 crops. State support in Turkey is provided through the management company, TARSIM. The company`s board of directors includes representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Undersecretariat of the Treasury and directors of insurance companies that are members of the Pool. TARSIM collects insurance premiums directly from agricultural producers and receives subsidies (50%-66%) from the government. Insurance payouts are handled by TARSIM as well. The company then transfers its collected risks to the world’s leading reinsurers. Over six years of the company’s activity, agricultural insurance penetration has increased from 1% (2006) to 8.2% (2012). The amount of premiums collected has soared from 27 million euro in 2006 to over 200 million euro in 2012.

The agricultural insurance model developed in Austria is quite similar to the Turkish one. The country’s insurers initiated the establishment of a separate insurance company, Die Österreichische Hagelversicherung, which would deal with agricultural risks only and would not implement any other types of insurance products. The penetration of agricultural insurance in Austria is currently estimated at an impressive 85%, considering the absence of obligatory agricultural insurance in the country. This information was presented by the president of International Association of Agricultural Insurers (AIAG), Dr. Kurt Weinberger.

David Ginzburg, the CEO of the company coordinating all subsidized agricultural insurance in Israel, explained in his presentation that in his country agricultural insurance is required by law and 100% of agricultural production in Israel  is insured. State-owned company KANAT was established in 1967 exactly for such purposes, and it now handles all weather-related risks and natural hazards. The company runs all agricultural insurance activities in the country. Insurance premiums in Israel are divided between gardening (42%), vegetable farming (30%), livestock (20%) and field crop production (8%). The amount of premiums collected in Israel in 2012 came to USD 280 million.

The experience of South African (Zambia) is highly technological. It has commanded a great deal of interest among conference participants. Louis De Wet, the agricultural insurance product development manager with the ABSA Bank and Insurance Company, shared his experience in developing satellite monitoring systems that support actuarial and underwriting processes in crop insurance. The satellite monitoring and risk assessment technology has greatly facilitated risk management and data collection in the country. Also worth mentioning about Zambia is the fact that the key crop grown in South Africa is corn, accounting for about 60% of total agricultural production in the country.

Pierre Rolland, a member of the executive board of GEOSYS (France), also spoke about the development of satellite monitoring systems and technology provided by his company. According to Mr. Rolland, such technology is becoming increasingly more popular both for the purpose of underwriting and risk assessment by insurance companies and for managing precision farming projects and monitoring large areas of land by agricultural producers. Obviously, satellite technologies are much preferred by the insurance business and are utilized more and more by insurance companies around the world, as shown by the South African example.

Agricultural Insurance Market Development in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Conference participants discussed at length the development of CIS markets. Most experts agreed that the level of agricultural insurance penetration in Eastern Europe is currently very low. At the same time, this indicates huge upside potential of the market. Representatives of reinsurance companies see that as an opportunity for further growth.

Reinsurance professionals placed a great deal of emphasis on the importance of having  an effective  system of government  support in agricultural insurance. The examples of Turkey and Israel clearly show that Ukraine and Russia may potentially reach a ten-fold increase in the amount of insurance premiums collected over the next five years.

Representatives of top eight international reinsurance organizations held a series of meetings with CIS insurers. The process of establishing the Ukrainian Agricultural Insurance Pool garnered a lot of attention. Vitaliy Samarskiy, the Pool’s CEO, was one the most active conference participants. He held a series of meetings with many foreign partners, discussing various aspects of agricultural insurance in many countries and the solutions applied at various stages of the formation and development of their systems.

Cooperation among Insurance Companies, Market Regulators and Government Agencies

Participation of Alla Fedorinova, the deputy director of the Federal Agency for the State Support of Agricultural Insurance under the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia, was very appreciated. In her report, she stressed the fact that independent loss adjusters in Russia currently get involved only in the case of any disputes arising between an insurance company and a farmer. In Ukraine, and in most other European and Asian countries, such specialists are essential to the agricultural insurance process at all stages. Their participation is necessary for surveying the area insured. They are also always called upon if a risk event has occurred and an assessment and payout is needed. Russian authorities are leaning toward implementing the same model of agricultural insurance development as in other countries.

Korney Bizhdov, the President of the National Union of Agricultural Insurers of Russia also raised this issue. According to him, independent surveyors play a key role at all stages of agricultural insurance. He also emphasized the importance of professional associations of agricultural insurers in Russia and in other countries. It should be noted that after Mr. Bizhdov`s appointment as President of the Russian National  Union of Agricultural Insurers the agricultural insurance market in Russia got off the ground, and the role of the association in this processes has become more and more visible and significant.

President of the Union Korney Bizhdov signed a memorandum on cooperation in agricultural insurance with President of the Ukrainian League of Insurance Organizations Natalia Gudyma. The memorandum aims to promote cooperation in the area of agricultural insurance between the two countries and members of these professional associations.

Natalia Gudyma, President of the Ukrainian League of Insurance Organizations, spoke about the state of the agricultural insurance market in Ukraine. The presentation was based on the 2012 IFC report on the agricultural insurance market in Ukraine and the League’s own data obtained from its members. Among other things, the report highlighted the fact that the Ukrainian market is currently undergoing a restructuring and has just gone through a realignment by key market payers in 2013. In the case of Ukraine, reinsurers and insurers also see many opportunities for further development and improvement of the market. The report also discussed the importance of the transparency and predictability of market regulators’ activities, which, sadly, is still an issue at the moment. This greatly impedes the development of agricultural insurance in Ukraine.

New Opportunities and Tools

The international conference Agricultural Insurance, Reinsurance and Brokerage in the CIS, Europe and Asia created a new platform for interaction and cooperation in the sector of agricultural insurance in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The event was well organized and drew the attendance and attention of top insurance and reinsurance professionals.Such level of representation not only provided an opportunity for an exchange of information about a variety of international crop insurance markets, but also created a meeting point for many experts and professionals to reach agreements on a number of issues.

Foreign experts discovered new opportunities and prospects for crop insurance development in the CIS. The conference drew the attention of international companies to the market environment and offered a new, interesting perspective to look from.

According to feedback received from conference participants, the conference should become a regular event and thus will further accelerate the development of agricultural insurance in the CIS, Europe and Asia.

About The Project’s Expert Team has been active on the agricultural insurance market since 2001. It interacts and cooperates with insurance and reinsurance companies in the CIS, Europe and Asia. Project experts have advised a number of companies and governmental and non-governmental organizations in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Albania, China and other countries. Over 400 training sessions have been organized on a broad range of technical issues related to crop and animal insurance and risk management in the agricultural sector. Training sessions are designed specifically for professionals working in insurance product design, underwriting, loss adjustment and other areas. We have provided advisory services to government agencies on designing and implementing subsidized crop insurance programs.