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How AIG helped Umicore manage the risks of growing its business

The Belgium-based circular materials technology company needed more than a traditional insurance policy.

In the spring of 2020, Umicore came to AIG with a need: The Belgium-based circular materials technology company was looking to find a tailor-made insurance plan to transport its high-value goods around the globe.

As a company with activities to accelerate the global transformation of mobility, respond to the growing need for advanced materials, and contribute to the pursuit of a global circular economy, Umicore needed to address the inherent risks of shipping its raw materials and finished goods by air, sea, rail, and other modes of transport.

Because these shipments are often of a high value, the firm also needed an insurance policy providing high-insured limits. Moreover, Umicore needed these shipments to arrive to their destinations safely and securely.

With AIG being one of Umicore’s trusted, long-standing insurance partners, the firm turned to the global insurance organization for help managing these risks.

“We were looking for a single insurer willing and capable to write our program,” recalls Bart Smets, Umicore’s Head of Risk and Insurance.

“Because we have operations in more than 35 countries, we needed an insurer that deeply understood local rules and regulations when it comes to insurance. And I must say, that’s something that we have found with AIG’s multinational program team.”

Helping Umicore pursue its business goals

AIG’s partnership with Umicore represents one of the many ways AIG successfully works with clients, particularly global organizations interested in expanding their business and operations into new countries and regions.

“Whether the risks involve geopolitical tensions, natural disasters or labor issues, AIG has in-depth knowledge to guide and support clients as risks around the world evolve,” says Lisa Boon, AIG’s Head of Multinational for its global Marine insurance business.

In working with Umicore, Lisa adds, AIG developed a multinational risk-management plan tailored to the company’s needs. This included: 

  • Creative solutions to manage transport risks. Umicore needed higher insurance limits to cover the transport of high-value items to various jurisdictions and territories.

As a result, AIG was willing to collaborate with the firm’s reinsurance captive, which essentially allowed Umicore to set up its own insurance entity with the purpose of insuring part of the group’s risks. AIG provided Umicore with the necessary fronting services, including underwriting capabilities and the proper licenses to issue local insurance policies on behalf of the captive.

“The reinsurance captive gave us more flexibility,” Bart says. “We had very open conversations with AIG, specifically about our transport risks, and we were able to secure larger coverage for a specific line of business through the captive than what we would have found in the traditional insurance markets.”

  • Multinational and marine risk expertise. Like many organizations with operations in multiple countries and territories, Umicore needed more than an insurance policy to help manage the risks of transporting materials and goods around the globe.

One of Umicore’s goals was to reduce theft and loss. So, AIG’s risk engineers recommended additional security and safety measures to mitigate their shipments’ exposure to risks, and ultimately, to reduce the number and severity of claims.

“AIG provided a wealth of insight into how risks have generally evolved in specific regions and countries,” Bart says. “This depth of knowledge was valuable to Umicore, as we worked with AIG to find solutions and manage risks.” 

  • World-class claims service. In addition, Umicore needed an insurer it could depend on in the event of a loss.

AIG’s claims services, Bart adds, is an area where the insurance organization stands out: “When there’s a claim, it’s very important for an insurer to understand our business. AIG has in-depth knowledge of what Umicore does as a business. If a claims adjuster comes in, for example, they have the necessary insight into our business to effectively assess the claim.”

More than that, Bart adds, having multinational insurance experts on the ground where Umicore conducts business helps distinguish AIG from other insurers. AIG’s knowledge of local laws and regulations helps support clients like Umicore in the event they file a claim and need to pursue payment within the local legal system.

“Having open communication with AIG has been key for us,” Bart says. “We openly exchange information and come up with solutions together, and I would say it has been a good marriage.”

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American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading global insurance organization. AIG member companies provide a wide range of property casualty insurance, life insurance, retirement solutions and other financial services to customers in approximately 70 countries and jurisdictions. These diverse offerings include products and services that help businesses and individuals protect their assets, manage risks and provide for retirement security. AIG common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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