Many claims issues arising from catastrophe losses are common to the insurance industry, but for mutual insurers some are much more acute, according to Barry Costi-Mouyia, technical claims director of Willis Re, at the 2013 International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) Claims Seminar on Tuesday.

“Mutual insurers’ policyholder memberships are typically drawn from similar homogenous groups. These concentrations can lead to the impact of catastrophes being felt more sharply,” Costi-Mouyia said. “The commitment of mutuals to their customers is never more needed by members than in the aftermath of a major catastrophe."

While praising mutuals for offering market leading customer care, he also said mutual insurers may lack the resources that multi-nationals can deploy, and many mutual don’t have experience with recent, major catastrophes.

“For a mutual insurer there is no reason why lack of experience or limited resources should adversely affect the management of catastrophe losses if a robust claims management and business continuity plan is available for implementation,” Costi-Mouyia said. “Solid preparation and an understanding of the requirements likely to be placed on the mutual insurer by its reinsurers in a claim situation is crucial,” and “these are key to ensuring efficient and timely reinsurance recoveries where it is recognized that cash flow is a prime consideration.”

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