Press Release
26 Jun 2024

Guernsey’s insurance expertise showcased at first ever GIIA Airmic conference

Guernsey’s decades of expertise and dominance in the global insurance services sector were highlighted at the very first jointly organised conference by Airmic, the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers in Industry and Commerce and GIIA, the Guernsey International Insurance Association. 

The day-long conference featured a packed schedule of sessions covering subjects such as disaster relief financing, parametric insurance and the future of reinsurance markets.  

Titled ‘Positioning for the future,’ the day began with a keynote address from General Sir Richard Shirreff KBE, CBE, who spoke of the current geopolitical environment and positioning for the future.  

“The key is not looking at risk in silos, it’s looking comprehensively and understanding the relationship between risks,” he said. 

In his welcome address on behalf of the Government of Guernsey, Deputy Mark Helyar spoke of the unique relationship between Guernsey and the United Kingdom. 

“Guernsey is Europe’s premier captive jurisdiction. We're a centre for innovation, and because of that unique constitutional relationship, we are a very stable political and economic environment in which to do business.” 

The nexus between humanitarian needs and the private sector was discussed in a session on disaster relief financing.  

Petra Demarin, Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Emma Karhan, Head of Public Private Partnerships at Aon, Mike Pickard, Director Global (re)insurance and ILS Manager at Aon, and moderator Paul Sykes, Managing Director, at Aon, discussed how to fill the protection gap that represents more than 60% of global economic losses, which are not insured.  

Petra said: “Humanitarian needs are rising, and this means a changing risk landscape. 

“Getting funding from global to local is incredibly difficult and one of the biggest gaps that we’re facing. 

“Investment in resilience is smart. We are increasingly looking to the private sector as a source of knowledge, skills, tools, expertise.” 

In 2023, a pooled fund for small and medium sized disasters was established through a Guernsey regulated insurer. The IFRC DREF insurance (Red Cross Disaster Response Emergency Fund) was insured in an indemnity-based deal in order to enable the funding to be used for a broader range of hazards. 

Petra added: “We’re really hopeful that this is a new way of financing humanitarian action.” 

Emma stressed the importance of shifting the dialogue around humanitarian funding from philanthropy and donation to a business investment.  

She said: “Insurance is not there to replace donor funding. It's there to manage volatility.” 

In terms of a supportive environment, Mike said that Guernsey’s regulator, the Guernsey Financial Services Commission, is an important part of why these transactions have been done through Guernsey.  

“You need to have confidence in the regulator in the territory that you’re in to make sure there is a robust framework and an element of certainty around regulatory approval times.” 

In another breakout session titled ‘Metamorphosis: corporate structures that support risk transfer,’ Kate Storey, Independent Non-Executive Director and Consultant, echoed these sentiments.  

She complimented the island’s strengths in risk financing, cost savings, flexible regulatory and corporate regimes, robust but proportional regulation, and decades of experience.  

The session saw Kate, alongside Richard Sharp, Partner, Ogier, and Moderator Nick Wild, Independent Consultant, discuss the strengths of Guernsey PCCs, conversions, migrations, portability of captive structures, exits and winding ups, all against the backdrop of Guernsey’s comprehensive Company Law. 

Julia Graham, Chief Executive of Airmic, commented: “It's hard to imagine the challenges in our world as we gather to network, discuss and learn together on this gorgeous Island, on this gorgeous day. 

“Guernsey is an internationally recognised centre of finance and associated knowledge and expertise, including in the area of captives and associated risk financing solutions.” 

Adele Gale, Chairman of GIIA, said it had been an amazing day ‘and even the sun came out.’ 

She thanked all the speakers, whom she described as being of ‘exceptional calibre’ and summed up the day by saying: “I have had some amazing feedback from people today, including someone saying that this conference was long overdue.  

“Guernsey is front and centre of the global captive industry and as corporates look to their risk divisions to help them build resilient strategy, the captive becomes one of the mainstream tools at their disposal.”