Corporate Social Responsibility (see below)
One of its many definitions describes corporate governance as the set of processes, customs, policies, laws and institutions affecting the way an undertaking is directed, administered and/or controlled. For mutual and cooperative insurers, there are three main directions where expectations relating to governance are expressed:
Legislators develop principles of good corporate governance with a view to organising the relationship between the owners on one hand and the undertaking and its management on the other hand. Such corporate governance codes or rules are commonly sector-neutral; they do not expressly target insurance undertakings. Although in many cases such legal, regulatory, or self-regulatory frameworks are developed and applied to plc-type insurers whose shares are admitted to trading on regulated markets, they may apply to mutual and cooperative insurers, too: because these insurers have debenture listed on an exchange, because national legislation or codes extends some or all of the principles to non-listed undertakings, or because the mutual insurers themselves choose to adhere to a certain extent to principles devised for the broader corporate community.
Insurance regulators look at the issue of corporate governance in the context of the wider prudential framework for insurance undertakings. In its pillar II, the European Solvency II project includes extensive regulation on the governance of insurance companies. This set of rules includes elements of good governance that are industry-neutral, but adds elements specific to insurance, such as the structures and processes of risk control and of the actuarial function.
Finally, and for mutuals of particular importance, member-policyholders, as the owners of the mutual, have their own expectations as to how they wish to see their undertaking controlled and steered from their special viewpoint of being owners and clients at the same time.
Mutual and cooperative insurance companies are justifiably proud of their governance which is based on participative democracy and which is characterised by owner (= policyholder) participation in the strategic decision processes of the undertaking and by the democratic principle of “one member one vote”.
AMICE ensures that the particularities of the governance of mutual and cooperative insurers are taken into account when legislative proposals are under discussion in the European institutions and also participates in the work carried out by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in collaboration with ICMIF.
Within AMICE, the work on Corporate Governance is generally coordinated in the Governance working group which may also bring in other expertise from the Regulatory Affairs working group or the Solvency II working group depending on the subject matter.
Corporate social responsibility is essentially the recognition by companies that they have a responsibility to a range of stakeholders such as members/customers, employees, business partners, suppliers and the communities in which they operate, and to the environment.
AMICE’s members have a strong record in the field of responsibility. Many of them have been practicing CSR for decades without explicitly talking about it, at times long before it became a buzzword. See the report, published by AISAM (one of AMICE’s predecessor organisations) in 2004: “Social responsibility: key theme for mutual insurance companies”.
The association runs a CSR working group within the Assistance Commission. The purpose of the CSR working group is to encourage AMICE members to take up CSR and to create best CSR practice amongst AMICE members as well as to facilitate knowledge exchange and joint learning among members in the area of CSR.
The CSR working group organises regular focused workshops with the aim of facilitating direct technical exchanges between practitioners.