(Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, Santiago de Chile. Credit: Shutterstock.)
“Latin America is the most interesting place in the world, without question,” said Paola Neira, CEO of Latú Seguros (São Paulo), a provider of business coverage including D&O, tech E&O and cyber coverage, in her opening remarks during “Cybersecurity Threats: Insurers’ Response to a Global Threat,” a session at InsureTech Connect LATAM, held this week at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. It’s not hard to make the case that a region so vast and so diverse ecologically, economically and culturally as Latin America is interesting. ITC LATAM makes the case that not only does the region deserve its own InsurTech conference, but that it should be a matter of interest for the North American and global insurance community. As Caribou Honig, investor, entrepreneur, prominent figure in the InsurTech movement and co-founder of ITC, summarized in a conversation with Insurance Innovation Reporter on the first night of the conference, “The frontier of innovation often happens in the frontier markets.”
On one level, ITC LATAM serves simply as a reminder of worldwide interest in the Latin American insurance markets. U.S. and European insurers have had significant operations in Latin America for many decades and continue to play a major role in the markets. In a top-25 list of insurance groups in Latin America based on premium volume from MAPFRE Economic Research relying on regional regulators, many of the most prominent global insurers appear, including MAPRFE, MetLife, Zurich, Allianz, MetLife, AXA, Chubb, Liberty Mutual and Tokio Marine. Many, if not all, of these insurers are represented at ITC LATAM in one way or another, along with other important global companies, such as Swiss Re, Aon, Assurant and MS&AD.
LATAM’s First Unicorn Startup
The perennial presence of global insurers in Latin America represents the perennial opportunity the region has offered. However, there are also new opportunities evolving owing to a combination of the culture of Latin America and the state of technology. That includes dynamic new companies and the inspired individuals whose vision drives them.
One example of such visionary leadership is ITC LATAM keynote speaker Eduardo della Maggiora, the founder of Betterfly (Santiago, Chile), LATAM’s first unicorn startup. The Chilean entrepreneur and triathlete, qualified in industrial engineering, who left a career at J.P. Morgan to teach school children in Tanzania. After founding successful business and charitable enterprises and continuing his involvement in the global sports community, della Maggiora strove through a process of improvement that led to the founding of the innovative employee benefits platform Betterfly. The startup was valued at over $1 billion in 2022 and has been rapidly expanding globally.
Target-Rich Environment for Investors
Talented, motivated entrepreneurs such as della Maggiora and Paola Neira are one of the reasons investors find ITC LATAM a need-to-attend event.
“We’ve been seeing an increase in deal flow from the Latin American countries and a lot of really interesting, founders and technologies,” affirms Jason Gross, VP, Head of Platform at ManchesterStory, a Des Moines, Iowa-based venture capital firm. “Also, we see a lot of big markets that we believe are going to be emerging.”
“We’re not only here looking for new and interesting companies to potentially invest in,” Gross added,” but so are a number of our investors for our fund—our insurance carriers that do business in the LATAM countries or in areas that have strong LATAM influences. You put those two together, and that’s why we’re here.”
Many insurers seeking to expand their global footprint see Latin America as a key market. That is the case for Everest, a property/casualty (re)insurer based in Warren, N.J. and Bermuda.
“We recently expanded our insurance offering into Latin America with a branch opening in Santiago, Chile, and on the reinsurance side, Latin America and the Caribbean region is a growth engine for the company representing over 20 percent of our international reinsurance business,” comments Ryan Cole, VP, Head of Group Innovation, Everest, and an ITC LATAM speaker. “We’re also continuing to invest in our innovation team and we see incredible opportunities for new technologies in the region.”
Growth Region for Carriers, Vendors
In the case of Mandarin Re, an international reinsurer based in Malaysia, the imperative of development in the Americas drove attendance at both ITC LATAM and Latinsites—Celent’s marquee event for the Latin American insurance market, in its fifth edition this year. Mandarin Re recently launched Manit LLC, a subsidiary dedicated to developing software for (re)insurance brokers and carriers.
“Presence at conferences such as Latinsites and ITC LATAM is fundamental for developing the company in this market,” said Mikhail Grishin, COO, Mandarin Re Ltd. “You need to clearly understand the trends of the modern IT industry, as well as personally build communications with leaders in this field. Insurtech is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, and AI development technologies can significantly facilitate the work of underwriters and reduce expected losses with the help of fundamental risk analysis.”
In addition to ITC LATAM’s regional focus, Grishin added, the conference “shows high interest from top insurance industry executives, as the conference includes content and exhibits addressing all aspects of an insurance company’s business.”
Equisoft, a Montreal-based global provider of advanced insurance and investment digital solutions, has been an attendee and sponsor of Celent’s Latinsites since its inception. The company’s solutions include SaaS policy administration, CRM, financial needs analysis, financial planning, asset allocation, fund and portfolio analysis, quotes and illustrations, electronic application, agency management systems, as well as customer, agent and broker portals. “The Latin American market is a highly active market with tremendous upside potential,” commented Jean Sabbagh, the company’s Chief Revenue Officer. “As insurers try to offer a highly customized and flawless customer experience they find themselves in a position to implement critical modernizations”
“It is in this context that ITC LATAM offers a tremendous venue and a unique hub with a regional flair for industry leaders to connect, learn from each other, and identify some critical solutions that solve their needs,” Sabbagh continued. “Most other conferences tend to be country-specific while ITC LATAM brings in people from all sides of Latin America. The pre-conference Celent Latinsites event was a rich and highly engaging thought leadership platform that provided rich content on the transformational forces and leading people in the market.”
Innovation is about both new technologies and new ideas. It is precisely because the market is younger that it is more experimental. The theme emerged in the ITC LATAM panel Latú’s Paola Neira participated in on the topic of cyber insurance.
U.S. cyber regulation and related case law provide a very strong framework to guide cyber insurers, suggested panelist Natalia Char, Head of Commercial Risk Solutions Latin America, Aon (London). Brazil has the most mature regulatory framework with 2018 regulations based on the E.U.’s GDPR cyber security regulation, Char added, but the rest of Latin America continues to lag.
Being earlier in its journey, in cyber insurance and otherwise, the LATAM region can learn from the mistakes and successes of the U.S. and Europe while leveraging regional advantages, said panelist Ari Chatterjee, Chief Underwriting Officer of Envelop Risk (Bristol, U.K.) a provider the technology, tools, and reinsurance capacity needed to launch and refine cyber insurance solutions aiming to meet local market needs.
“The fact that insurance is regulated on a state-by-state basis in the U.S. can make compliance difficult to manage, and if you’re working in certain states, you sometimes find that the regulators aren’t very friendly—that actually stifles innovation,” Chatterjee said. “If you’re trying to sell, for example, a personalized cyber product which is quite different in its composition of the covers areas to a commercial product, there’s a lot more scrutiny. By the time you file all the right forms and everything else, the market moment has passed.”