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The Small World of Insurance

Kate Gingras
February 25, 2016

As a child, I remember going to Disney World's Magic Kingdom and being overwhelmed and almost uncontrollably excited by the sights, sounds, rides, and shows. It was an assault on the senses, kind of a child-size Las Vegas. It's a memory I expect many reading this share. They say memories related to senses are often the most vivid, and that's definitely true for me. One of the things I remember best about that trip was how hot the day was and how thankful I was to cool off as my family boarded a boat and entered a dark tunnel to the first notes of "It's a Small World."

At the time, the meaning of the song was lost on me. There were far too many other things to think about. The world was far from small, and instead seemed quite the opposite. But, while "we" were collectively not paying much attention in favor of more immediate and important life and career events, for years, technology has been moving us in that direction, breaking down borders, bringing people and ideas from across the world into our own offices, living rooms, and backyards. It seems the changing world of work and the almost infinite availability of connectivity have proven Walt Disney's concept many times over.

It's not a secret to insurers that underwriting profits, investment income, and organic growth driven by new domestic business have been hard to come by in recent years, so it should also not be a surprise that today, an increasingly mobile economy and a newly remote workforce are moving the centers of business and industry away from traditional cities and headquarter locations, effectively rebalancing the global business landscape. As the bulk of the world's economic growth shifts to emerging regions, insurers must embrace this new "small world" and quickly develop new products, improve services, and increase capabilities around the growing business of multinational insurance.

As more insurers realize the opportunity presented by multinational insurance, additional resources will be needed to go beyond existing borders of business. And, there will be challenges, internal and external, domestic and abroad, for those companies looking to take advantage of the growth potential. Tax and regulatory authorities in emerging markets, for example, are also realizing the economic opportunity a more developed global insurance environment can have and are already jockeying for positions which will enable greater control and profit.

I think of it this wayÖfor insurers across tiers and lines of business, the question about whether to move toward writing multinational insurance is no longer one of competitive advantage, but of absolute survival. Insurers can accelerate growth and support compliance requirements by approaching multinational insurance business activities holistically across people, processes, technologies and geographies. But first, complexity must be eliminated from mandated, matter-of-course activities, such as underwriting of multinational programs, implementation, or post-bind servicing and communication, through automation.

Once that happens, I expect we will all see how very small the world has truly become.

-Kate Gingras, Practice Leader, Insurance