“We are able to offer our customers local policies for their global operations”

An emerging champion

Specialised insurer HDI Global SE continues to expand


Text by Andrew Howitt

The dangers that businesses are exposed to today are more considerable and diverse than ever before. One example is the threat of large-scale, organised cybertheft, brought about by the exponential growth of the digital economy; a total of 128.1 billion cyberattacks were documented in Japan alone in 2016, according to the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology. And, in addition to the ever-present possibility of fires and flooding, the number of natural disasters taking place around the world has grown dramatically over the last few decades, putting companies’ resources and investments at risk. So, how is a firm to protect itself?

“It has been our mission since we were established to always be there for our customers with insurance solutions that take into consideration the latest technical innovations and industrial developments,” says Dr Christian Hinsch, chairman of the board of management at HDI Global SE. “We must have our finger on the pulse of the entire economy and keep up with the innovations, the pressures and the needs of our clients, be they big or small.”

A part of the Talanx Group, HDI Global SE is an industrial insurer offering tailor-made insurance solutions for industrial firms, corporate clients and SMEs. Founded in Germany in 1903, HDI now has subsidiaries in 41 countries and, through its network of partners, operates in more than 150 countries.

“We offer the complete range of products for the coverage of entrepreneurial risks,” notes Hinsch, who is also deputy chairman of the board of management at Talanx AG.

The products include third-party liability; motor insurance; accident, as well as fire and property insurance; marine insurance; cyber insurance; directors and officers liability; and engineering insurance.

Since starting at HDI in 1984, Hinsch has seen the group’s gross written premiums rise from €1.2 billion to €33.1 billion in 2017, a fact that makes him “very proud”.

“When I joined HDI, it was a ‘hidden champion’,” he states, using the term that refers to a medium-sized, relatively unknown company with a large share of the global market. Although the group has grown to 20,000 employees since then, Hinsch considers that, to a certain extent, it still is one today.

An important area for the firm is its property and marine insurance. The supply chains of many companies, particularly those with global operations, depend on an elaborate logistics network, and problems can occur at any stage of a trip. HDI provides “all risks” coverage, offering specialised products for insurance against risks such as business interruption and contractual penalties.

“As globalisation of the economy has progressed, global insurance programmes have become more and more important, and one fact that certainly sets us apart from our competition is our international insurance programmes,” says Hinsch. “We are able to offer our customers local policies for all their global operations in one single concept, which ensures that, in a one-stop approach, the established service and insurance protection is extended for all covered risks worldwide.”

To give clients a clear perspective on all the potential risks and protect themselves effectively against losses, HDI also offers risk consulting. It has a pool of almost 180 engineers and experts from a wide range of disciplines to help identify and assess risks and develop appropriate, individual protection concepts for insurance coverage.

Over the last two decades, HDI has seen significant growth from its markets outside Germany, with 62% of its gross written premiums in 2017 generated by branches in other European countries, as well as markets in Asia, North and Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa. New areas of growth for HDI are also coming from the more recent additions to its portfolio of insurance solutions, including cyber insurance and insurance for the renewables sector.

“Comprehensive insurance cover against damages from cybercrime has become a key issue for the ongoing existence of virtually every company,” says Hinsch. “Our Cyber+ Insurance offers a benefit limit of more than ¥5 billion, covering the costs of defending the insured, carrying out the forensic examinations to secure the breach, associated business interruption, defending the client’s reputation, and so forth.”

In the renewable energy sector, the uninterrupted operation of windfarms and solar parks over the long term is vital for investors and plant operators to achieve their earnings targets. However, many hazards and contingencies, including extreme weather and natural disasters, can jeopardise these targets during construction and operation.

“In May last year, we launched Solar Revenue Shortfall Insurance in Japan for owners and investors of photovoltaic [PV] solar projects,” says Hinsch. “HDI was the first local insurer in Japan to offer comprehensive protection for PV solar projects, including unique cover for revenue shortfall resulting from a lack of sunshine.”

This year marks HDI’s 20th anniversary in Japan, and there is good reason to celebrate this milestone. Over the last decade, the Tokyo branch has increased its gross written premiums by nearly 500% and doubled the size of its staff.

“In Japan, we are committed to maintaining our dynamic growth by strengthening our sales efforts with regional brokers in cities outside Tokyo,” states Hinsch. “We are also using the capabilities inherent in our international insurance programmes to target small and mid-sized multinational companies.”

Japan’s growth is part of HDI’s larger expansion strategy for Asia. In addition to its office here, it has branches in Hong Kong, Bahrain, Singapore and Malaysia (Labuan), as well as joint ventures in India and Vietnam.

“With our branch offices in this part of the world,” says Hinsch, “HDI is nicely positioned to be part of the region’s huge growth potential.” 

“We must have our finger on the pulse of the entire economy”