Skills to grow the industry
“We realised that there is still a true opportunity for growth in the sector, which is not being met, so Continental Re established the Continental Property and Engineering Risk Services (CPERS). Granted, it is a fairly lengthy name for a company, but we opted for something that exactly described what we do. Our focus is specifically on the engineering insurance side in particular. We have seen that there is still a great need for underwriting skills in the projects that are funded on the continent – especially since the funders in most cases, stipulate that there should be a significant local component to the participation on the project. And because these are fairly sophisticated builds, one needs experienced individuals from the engineering fraternity that know how policies should be structured,” Hansa explains. “Facilitating with underwriting is really the core reasoning of securing a development with CPERS. Then in order to make sure that the local market is fairly and adequately able to deal with these kinds of sophisticated classes of projects, we try to retain those skills on the continent, so the training component is very important as well,” he continues. Hansa notes that not many of the local insurers on the continent have the required stability rating to participate in major projects, however. “There is that dynamic where local legislation and regulators are trying to stem the tide of premium exiting the country, because they have to be able to grow the capital to pay for the loan from the World Bank, or whichever entity granted the loan for the project. On the other hand, the funders need to have some sense of safety and that they have their capital insured with stable insurers. Which means that the vast majority of these projects still end up with the large multinational insurers and premiums still leave the country,” Hansa says. “The truth is that if we continue not to do anything but talk about it – as is the case now – we will still be sitting with the same situation in twenty years’ time. This is why we are now working towards setting up the mechanisms to develop the know-how, and integrate them with the established insurance institutions,” Hansa says. The other key areas that CPERS focuses on are risk and advisory services, and claims handling services. The opportunities from the continent with one of the fastest growing economies on the planet are far from over. While the many real risks associated with trying to complete a project, can and do stall major builds almost every day, new sites are constantly being readied for construction. It is just a matter of picking the project with the best chances of success.