The port city of Cartagena, located on Colombiaʼs north coast and home to nearly one million people.

A knowledge partner for our clients

To reach our goals we need to help our clients reach theirs – leveraging 150 years’ worth of expertise.

Colombian insurer Sura has been a Swiss Re client for more than fifty years. And like a lot of our clients, they have gone from being a national insurer to a regional powerhouse over that period.

Today Sura is Colombia’s leading provider of both life and non-life insurance. They also operate in Panama, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. They aim to triple the equity held at the end of 2007 by 2017.

At Swiss Re we admire Sura’s ambition and are eager to help. In 2013 we invited them to Miami to explore ways to work together more closely. “Sura’s the market leader, but that’s not always an easy position,” says Francisco Majos, head of Swiss Re’s Colombian operations. “Achieving profitable growth becomes more and more challenging.”

Sura shared with us a far-sighted plan: to reach out to Colombia’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Inside a textile factory in Colombia (photo)

Inside a textile factory in Colombia

Heart of the Colombian economy

Colombian SMEs could account for at least USD 250 million in premiums per year. And with an estimated 99 of every 100 Colombian firms falling into the SME range, potential clients aren’t hard to find.

One hundred people or more might work in a typical SME, working in industries like food, textiles, or auto parts. Nevertheless many are substantially underinsured against even common perils such as fire or theft. The culture of risk prevention is often absent on the shop floor.

Sura’s challenge is to demonstrate to these firms that risk management is central to competitiveness, and that insurance plays a fundamental role. Their strategy is to build loyalty in the segment, one client at a time.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises should be among the biggest beneficiaries of Colombiaʼs free trade agreements. We want to be a part of that.”

Gonzalo Pérez

CEO, Sura

“We wanted to show how our expertise could be applied directly to the challenges facing Suraʼs clients — in this case, small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Francisco Majos

Regional Head, Swiss Re Colombia

And there is a broader win, says Gonzalo Pérez, Sura’s CEO. “Colombia has free trade agreements with Chile, Canada, the US and a number of others. The SME sector should be among the biggest beneficiaries of those agreements,” he says. “And indeed the number of exporting SMEs is growing fast. We want to help these firms to integrate with the global economy.”

A knowledge company





So what does a 150-year old Swiss reinsurer know that can help a Colombian entrepreneur?

Swiss Re has a long, deep knowledge of risk and value drivers in the world economy — of international standards, product-related exposures, natural catastrophe as well as man-made catastrophe exposures, to name a few.

The challenge is to put that knowledge into a form that Sura’s agents and Risk Management team can share with potential clients — quickly for the client, cost-efficiently for Sura.

We demonstrated how embedding Swiss Re’s knowledge in a tablet computer can open a dialogue between Sura and prospective clients on risk management and their insurable risks such as business interruption, worker health and safety, earthquake and flood.

To build long-term relationships in the SME sector, Sura needs to offer clear, simple products that match SME needs. The terms and coverages must be clear and predictable and the claims process must be clear.

Long-term relationships are more than just good business. By knowing their clients, Sura knows their risks, and over time this can translate to a larger relationship and more expert underwriting. They are committed to providing their clients with solutions to their primary needs.

Over our 150-year history we have largely travelled the same course, with Sura and around the world. We are eager to support clients in developing new markets, leveraging the key benefit of our long experience — a deep knowledge of risk.

The way forward

Francisco Majos – Regional Head, Swiss Re Colombia (photo)

Francisco Majos
Regional Head, Swiss Re Colombia

Sura is selling policies to the SME sector online. Swiss Re is continuing to explore ways to support their initiative. Meanwhile Swiss Re covers Sura’s property business including natural catastrophe exposure and other non-life coverages.

Such close collaboration, leveraging our position as a knowledge company, is essential to reaching our goals — especially in generating 20%–25% of premiums in high growth markets by 2015.