Protecting What Matters MostWed, 05/08/2019 - 10:43
Q: How do Assurant Mexico’s operations add value to the company’s global activities?
A: Mexico plays a significant role in Assurant’s global business. The company has operations in 26 countries and in Latin America we operate in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Puerto Rico. We serve the needs of around 300 million clients around the world, of which 30 million are in Latin America. Along with Brazil and Argentina, Mexico is among the most important countries in the region.
Assurant has been in the country for 12 years and during this time we have developed five business lines. The first is Global Automotive, an area that supplies the automotive industry. Our Extended Service Contracts (ESC) division serves the retail industry. The third business line is focused on mobile devices and offers theft or accidental damage insurance. One of our best-known products is the Switch Up program for Apple that, for a fee, allows users to change their smartphone whenever a new one comes out. Our fourth division is Assistance and Financial Products, which offers insurance for mortgages, car loans, unemployment and permanent disability. Our fifth business line is Property, which offers coverage for home damages resulting from natural disasters.
Q: What characteristics of the Mexican market have helped Assurant grow its business in the country?
A: In Mexico, there is not a great deal of awareness regarding the importance of protecting what we buy, either through an extended guarantee or an insurance policy. It is increasingly common to have car insurance but when it comes to other assets, there is no insurance culture that encourages people to purchase protection. This provides a huge growth opportunity for the company. Also, the percentage of people who protect their purchases is very small, which also represents a large area for growth.
Assurant also strives to turn its customer service into a competitive advantage. We have important relationships with large retailers like Liverpool, Palacio de Hierro, Costco and in the automotive sector with automakers, including Toyota, Nissan, General Motors and Volkswagen, all of which are companies that are very selective and have high-quality standards. These companies are our clients and our strategic partners. An interesting feature of the service we offer is that even though we are a B2B business, we deal directly with the client. Assurant is not a well-known brand to the public because we sell through our clients’ brand, not our own.
Q: How is Assurant reinventing its traditional business to include new technologies in its operations?
A: We are always looking for new ways to offer and deliver our products. Assurant has invested around US$45 million in startups that we think could change the way we work. For example, we are investing in an application that will allow us to identify if a cell phone can be covered by insurance. This application targets the used cell phones market and can be used by any bank for its account holders. Users can create an account and then the application performs a calculation of the capabilities of the mobile phone, such as camera, microphone, speakers, screen, battery, software and Bluetooth. After completing the analysis, the app automatically sends a price proposal and if it is accepted it sends the contract automatically. This is just an example of our innovations, which focus on protecting what matters most to our customers.
Q: Assurant focuses on five business niches. Where do you see the greater potential for sustained growth?
A: In the case of Global Automotive and ESC, we have a significant leadership position. In the automotive market we work with 18 of the 31 brands that operate in Mexico, including the top four automotive brands previously mentioned, and in retail we also have a leadership position with clients like Home Depot and Sanborns. The clearest opportunity for growth is in our other three business lines, although there is always room for growth in every area due to the existing lack of awareness about the need to protect what we buy. The insurance industry in Mexico does not even reach 3 percent of national GDP, which means there is still much to do.