For the second time, the world meeting of reinsurers was to take place this week on a computer screen instead of the usual one in Monte-Carlo. The coronavirus made sure of that. Industry giants like Munich Re, Swiss Re, Hannover Re and their clients, Allianz’s insurers in Zurich, should seize the opportunity and definitely turn their backs on the French Riviera’s tax haven.
It is no longer in tune with the times for an industry to make a pilgrimage to this strange place, which has placed climate protection and general public services on its flags, from old age insurance to cyber protection.
The September Rendez-Vous, the official title, has been taking place since 1957. At the time, French companies were fed up with always having to go to London to talk about reinsurance. They proposed the rendezvous in Monte Carlo and, together with a rally, a sailing regatta and numerous receptions and dinners, provided a setting intended to attract guests from all over the world and their wives.
Each year, around 3,000 insurance managers, industrial buyers, lawyers and journalists from 80 countries visit the small principality for a week. Little of the glamor remains from previous years. Participants meet in ballrooms and hotel hallways in small groups or in pairs at specially appointed tables. Then they negotiate the reinsurance contracts for the coming year. A Japanese insurer wants to insure against major losses due to earthquakes, forest fires in California are mentioned, hurricanes and floods in Europe. Reinsurers assume some of the major risks; without reinsurance there would be virtually no insurance. In Monte-Carlo, the amount of the premiums and the extent of the guarantees are negotiated, always every half hour or every hour.
There are also receptions and dinners for the right clients – but for most attendees Monte Carlo means hard work. The costs are enormous, it is difficult to find a hotel room for less than 500 euros. The owners of the hotel appear to be direct descendants of the Genoese pirates who once ruled here. Nevertheless, according to Monte-Carlo supporters, the meeting is worth it: because there you can meet 40 or 50 clients in one place in a week. Visiting them all would take weeks, cost much more, and be much more damaging to the environment.
There are good arguments for a world meeting, but very good arguments against it.
You’re right. Also with the fact that such a meeting can only be held in a small place with a large hotel capacity. Monte Carlo and Baden-Baden have both. The second reinsurance meeting takes place every year at the end of October in the spa town in southern Germany.
There are good arguments for a world meeting. But very good arguments against its holding in Monte-Carlo, a haven for tax evaders in Europe. The insurance industry has been trying to change its image for years. Instead of just paying claims, businesses want to be seen as life companions for their customers, from securing homes and cars to health insurance and senior care. Reinsurers spent large sums of money on research and warned of climate change early on. Most support projects in poor countries, including drought protection for small farmers. It is simply no longer appropriate for this new image to come together in the artificial world on the Mediterranean. If reinsurers and insurers wish to meet in person, they must choose another location.