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PANAMA - Finance

Ian Van Hoorde

VPE & General Manager, ASSA Panama

Bio

Ian Van Hoorde was born in 1971. He is an Industrial Engineer and has a Master’s degree in Business Administration with an expertise in Finance. He began his professional career at ASSA Compañía de Seguros, S.A. in 1996 where he held various positions until April 2018, when he became the General Manager of ASSA PANAMA after his active participation in the acquisitions of AIG and Generali.

“By acquiring Triple-S, we become a company that provides services in all lines of business.”
ASSA is keen to further digitalize its services and increase its competitiveness in Panama, which currently represents 60% of its revenues.
Given your background of over 25 years in the company, what is your perspective on the insurance sector in Panama?

Before COVID-19, the insurance sector had always been constantly growing as competitive business; however, by the end of September 2022, insurance companies had provided payouts over USD140 million to approximately 15,000 families. The decision to cover medical expenses related to COVID-19 was an expensive one. But it was also, without a doubt, one of the best decisions ASSA took. Not only were we able to deliver these benefits to our customers, but we offered peace of mind to all Panamanians during the process. This decision protected our entire personal line insurance portfolio against the natural erosion that an economic downturn would have produced. With the pandemic behind us and with the introduction of new technology, methodologies, and applications, the outlook remains positive. Nonetheless, with the capitalization requirements associated with the implementation of new financial reporting standards (IFRS 17), we will likely experience some consolidation in a market that is already small for 23 insurance companies.

What is ASSA’s competitive advantage?

Many would think ASSA’s main competitive advantage is its financial strength, but it is much more than that. We use of corporate values ​​in every business decision we make, and we use each experience with stakeholders to improve our products and services. This allow us to build a trusting relationship with stakeholders to make the company sustainable in the long run (ASSA PARA TODA LA VIDA). ASSA Panama is the main operation of ASSA Tenedora. The operations in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are born from the need to provide regional service and to diversify our source of income. The group’s reinsurance operations were born to replace its reinsurance operations with third parties, though with diversification it makes sense that they be managed within the group. ASSA Panama represents more than 60% of revenues, 68% of total assets, and it is where the strategies, policies, and governance of ASSA Tenedora are defined.

ASSA has acquired Triple-S in Costa Rica. What are the implications of this acquisition, and how will this help ASSA to expand?

Triple-S Costa Rica had been operating in Costa Rica for about 10 years and had a portfolio of 8,000 customers with their dependents. Its portfolio corresponds to personal lines insurance, namely health, life, cancer, and accidents. The company, with assets of USD17 million and written premiums of USD17 million, perfectly complements the operations of ASSA Costa Rica, which to date had only provided general insurance. Therefore, by acquiring Triple-S, we become a company that provides services in all lines of business. Our expansion plan in the region will continue to be strategic and selective, always measuring the basic cost of performing due diligence and synergies before engaging in the technical aspects and contingencies of acquiring any new business.

What are ASSA’s main objectives in the near future?

The focus is on our digital strategy—called T23—started in 2018 with clear goals and objectives that we need to achieve by the end of 2023. It includes the development of simplified processes with the use of technology so that brokers can place our products and services digitally and the insured can digitally use the products that were placed by the brokers. At the same time, we are working to reduce costs in the auto and health lines. Vehicle parts and repairs for the automobile industry have increased, and the tendency of agencies and auto-part houses has been to reduce inventory, which makes it difficult to provide a good service. On the medical services side, hospitals have the challenge of recovering their investment quickly, and doctors who do not participate in the network offer unreasonable costs. We cannot limit ourselves to transferring the cost increases to the insured in the premiums, which would be easy and comfortable. It is important to add value.

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