Ten years since its previous edition, the 5th International Seminar on Insurance and Reinsurance was recently held in Havana, with experts from 11 countries and a new call from the Cuban government to contract the corresponding financial protections, directed at the state-run as well as the private sector of the economy. The authorities took advantage of the meeting to defend the value of that activity amid the country’s current process of economic transformations, which implies new interpretations of the risks and of the financial activity.
The Insurance Superintendent of the Republic of Cuba, Noemi Benítez, gave the meeting’s closing speech at the Hotel Nacional, with a call to promote the contracting of insurance policies to protect the state-run, private and cooperative sectors from risks. The seminar evaluated the usefulness of insurance in agriculture, construction projects, industry, investments and for the insurance companies themselves. But Benítez especially made reference to the threats to transportation and others, linked to foreign trade.
The Insurance Superintendence ensures that the insurance and reinsurance entities have the conditions of solvency to comply with the signed contracts. But it also has another difficult mission: to promote that activity to the benefit of citizens and a national economy that traditionally has paid little attention to that financial protection.
Though the Cuban enterprises of the Caudal group protect values worth several million dollars, the agricultural sector – cooperative and private – as well as the state-run industry lack sufficient culture on the advantages of insurance policies and risk management.
The technical director of the Empresa de Seguros Internacionales de Cuba S.A. (Esicuba) international insurance company, Dulce María Alvarez, confessed at the seminar that the greatest challenge for the entities of that sector on island is to insert this type of guarantees in the solutions of sustainable development planned by the government and defended the significant role that these mechanisms of protection play in the current context of changes in the country’s economic and social policy.
Ever since the government has been promoting since 2008 a process of transformations called updating of the Cuban economic model, it has insisted on the expansion of the work of the insurance entities, to reduce the use of the country’s reserves in the rescue of enterprises and other productive and service entities when Cuba is hit by natural disasters, like a hurricane or drought, or when the trade companies come up against the turbulences of the foreign market, for example.
Before experts and representatives from 11 countries, the Insurance Superintendence compared the evolution of the Cuban insurance market from 2008 to 2012 and observed a tendency toward the increase of income for premiums, with a growth in the insurance of goods.
In his welcome to the participants in the 5th Seminar, Finance and Prices Deputy Minister Alejandro Gil highlighted the importance of this meeting at a time of global financial crisis and of the development of a new Cuban economic model.
Gil praised the work of Esicuba that, since it was created 50 year ago, has carried out an active work of risk transference and is the leading insurance company of the island’s business sector. The international reinsurance carried out by that enterprise of the Caudal group, he said, has compensated the country for the damages caused by natural disasters and has freed the State Budget from assuming these losses.
The general director of Esicuba, José Carlos Mejides, told the participants that starting 1963 the main attention of insurance in Cuba fell on the State’s economic activity, foreign trade, the maritime and fishing fleet, Cuban entities abroad, as well as foreign investment. At present, he said, they operate more than 50 insurance projects in the country, with close to 800 clients, and among the priorities is the new Cuban economic model.
Before experts from the United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Russia, Spain, France, Dominican Republic, Italy, Germany and Cuba, the debates of the 5th Seminar mainly focused on subjects like intermediation, assistance, damage inspection and adjustments, financial services, reinsurance and risk management. (2013)
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