Interview with the insurance broker Howden Mexico

Jonathan Höh of GrECo nova (a global network of insurance specialists) spoke with Howden Mexico about major risks facing foreign companies and the specifics of the local market.

According to statistics, Mexico employs 61% of the workforce in the service sector, which accounts for 60.1% of GDP. The technology-, information- and software development-sector in particular is growing due to the good quality of the workforce and low operating costs. But medical services and tourism are also growing faster than in Western countries thanks to low service-costs. In 2018, Mexico recorded a record number of visitors, estimated at 41.4 million according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Although, according to the Mexican Association of Insurance Institutions (AMIS), the insurance sector recorded a real increase of 5.37% in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year, the declines were significant in some sub-sectors such as automobile and accident insurance. In addition, a general decline in business of 5.4% is expected at the end of this year or in the beginning of 2021. Currently all companies in the insurance-sector are suffering from the low demand and also affected by reorientations in their business-activities.

HÖH: Can you tell us some of the key facts about the Mexican insurance market?

HOWDEN MEXICO: The insurance culture in Mexico is weak, so the growth potential is very high. Per capita-insurance-consumption in Mexico is low, compared to other Latin American countries and lags behind Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia – and even Peru. It is important to make insurance accessible to the people by developing technological business strategies. A large part of the population does not even know where to buy insurance.

The insurance with the highest penetration is car-insurance, with 30% of the total fleet of vehicles in Mexico, mainly because a significant percentage of cars are bought on credit and insurance is therefore required. Immediately after this comes life insurance, with a penetration of 10%.

HÖH: What are the biggest risks for foreign companies?

HOWDEN MEXICO: The risk for foreign companies is primarily the legal uncertainty and – due to the current crisis – also the economic uncertainty of the country. We also have a considerable risk of natural disasters such as hydro meteorological risks and earthquake risks. Another risk is the high theft of vehicles and goods. And the health-risk should not be underestimated: too high a proportion of the population suffers from obesity.
In 2017, Mexico ranked fifth in the world in terms of losses due to cyber-attacks, with financial institutions accounting for 20% of these losses. Recently, some banks were again the victims of a cyber-attack that caused almost 300 million pesos of damage (editor’s note: approx. 11.5 million EUR). Therefore, one of our greatest concerns is operational-security and that the information of companies offering services or products online is protected.

HÖH: Can international insurance-programs be implemented? And how does Howden Mexico provide customer service, how do you coordinate with the controlling brokers?

HOWDEN MEXICO: Insurance-programs can be implemented for companies that have are a representative office, partner or a branch of a firm headquartered in other countries. In particular, the requirements for quality, service and KPI standards must be taken into account. This requires a structure with a solid, dedicated and experienced support team for large and/or international business as well as representative offices in the countries of the respective regions. Currently, we have established an international business area within Grupo Ordás Howden that largely meets these criteria. Customer service is provided through the signing of a service-agreement, which is reviewed with the customer at least once a month. The coordination through the controlling broker is coordinated through written agreements, emails, telephone and video conferencing.

HÖH: How many years of experience has your team in international customer service?

HOWDEN MEXICO: We created the capacity for the international insurance business two years ago. The team consists of two people, Vice President Arlen Cooper and a senior executive, Perla Hurtado. Both speak English and have years of experience in international business. Arlen Cooper has been in the insurance business for 15 years and Perla Hurtado for ten years.

HÖH: What about the strong automotive sector in Mexico? Do you have proven capacities for this sector, and what specifics have be taken into consideration here?

HOWDEN MEXICO: Grupo Ordás Howden has a large team in the automotive sector. We are leaders in the insurance market here. This year, however, it will be a major challenge for Mexico, which relies heavily on the automotive sector, to recover and reach pre COVID-19 levels.

HÖH: What regulatory challenges are Mexican companies facing? What types of insurance are mandatory?

HOWDEN MEXICO: Currently, Mexico does not have clear and specific regulations, so the biggest challenge is to maintain information security even without these regulations. Since April 2013, the only compulsory insurance that exists in Mexico is car liability insurance.

HÖH: How high is the tax burden in Mexico, and how strongly does it affect the activities of insurance brokers?

HOWDEN MEXICO: Currently, companies in Mexico must pay 30% income tax plus additional 10% of dividends and 10% of employee profit sharing. However, companies do have access to deductions and often end up with lower rates.

Insurance policies are tax deductible. For example, no value-added tax is levied on life-insurance policies. This is an advantage for companies and it is the responsibility of brokers to point this out to companies.

Arlen Cooper I Vice President International
Phone: +55 797 81083, email: acooper@ordashowden.mx

Grupo Ordás Howden
Founded in 1982, Grupo Ordás Howden is a leading company in the Mexican insurance market with strong expertise in all lines of insurance. Headquartered in Mexico City, the company is characterized by a strong client focus, exceptional talent and an entrepreneurial ethos. In addition to expertise in motor insurance, an experienced international desk and industry practices, an impressive technology platform helps to provide even better solutions to customers in many different lines of business.

Related Insights

Jonathan Höh

Group Sales & Market Coordination

T +43 5 04 04 396