AXA XL CEO Xavier Veyry talks about a new era for Europe ahead of FERMA

AXA XL CEO, Asia & Europe, Xavier Veyry

Authored by AXA XL

Xavier Veyry was appointed CEO, Europe & Asia for AXA XL Insurance in June. Ahead of the FERMA Seminar, he talks about the challenges of recent months, innovation in risk and insurance and the importance of risk management associations.

You were recently appointed CEO for AXA XL’s newly formed Asia & Europe business unit and have relocated to Dublin from Shanghai in the midst of a global pandemic. What has that been like?

This has been an incredibly challenging time for everyone. First and foremost, it’s important to remember the tragic human cost of the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating effect it continues to have on families and communities around the world. From a personal standpoint, relocating and taking on a new role during a global pandemic certainly wasn’t straightforward! But I am excited to be embarking on my new role in such an important and dynamic region for insurance.

Since I assumed responsibility for the Asia & Europe business unit, I have had the opportunity to meet virtually with many of my colleagues. I have been hugely impressed by how they have adapted to working remotely and have stepped up to help our clients grapple with the effects of the pandemic on their business, their supply chains and their people.

And innovation has not stopped. Indeed, it has accelerated as our colleagues have sought to find ways to help clients manage and transfer the changing risks they have faced over the course of this pandemic.

The pandemic will be at the heart of the many conversations during the seminar. What is your take on the situation and how has AXA XL supported clients through this crisis?

Many of our clients have seen their risk profile change during this pandemic as their business models shifted to adapt to new circumstances. For example, some clothing manufacturers shifted their production from retail to making hospital gowns and face masks, some distilleries began making hand sanitiser, and so on. We recognised that we needed to support our clients through this. We not only adapted existing insurance coverages to enable clients to transfer their changed risks, but also found ways to offer risk consulting and engineering services without the need for physical site visits. We put in place a “remote risk dialogue” service that allowed risk engineers to use data capture and remote analysis to be able to continue to carry out surveys and consultations without the need to visit a site.

The pandemic came at a time when the insurance market was undergoing something of a correction in terms of rate. Doubtless to say then that the effects of COVID-19 have highlighted the inadequacy of rates in certain lines of business.

At times like these, we believe it’s really important for clients to talk to their insurers to find the right coverage solutions. Setting up or using an existing captive is one option our clients may wish to explore while some will seek to explore non-traditional risk transfer, such as those offered by our structured risk solutions team. We are having these conversations with clients throughout Europe and look forward to them continuing as we head towards the end of this extraordinary year.

Europe is a region where there is huge scope for collaboration with other AXA entities to bring enhanced solutions to meet our clients’ needs.

Why is FERMA, and the national risk management associations that it represents, so important for the risk management community?

As I alluded to earlier, communication is a vital part of how risk is successfully managed and transferred. Associations like FERMA, and the national associations with which it works closely, offer members, industry partners and risk managers a great forum to discuss ideas, emerging risks and future trends.

In addition, FERMA and its member associations offer education opportunities for risk managers and others in the risk profession and lobby on behalf of risk managers and insurance buyers at the national, European and global level, among other things.

How important is Europe to AXA XL and the AXA Group?

The AXA Group is a major player in Europe and one of the largest French companies in the world. Europe is hugely important to AXA XL and it is our second largest region in terms of gross written premium. Europe is also a region where there is huge scope for collaboration with other AXA entities to bring enhanced solutions to meet our clients’ needs. For example, we have worked with our colleagues at AXA Climate to craft parametric solutions for European clients.

With our significant European footprint, we have a close relationship with FERMA and the national risk management associations in Europe; they give us the opportunity to hear from risk managers, to talk to and learn from them and create solutions to help them manage and cover some of their most complex risks.

I hope this year’s seminar is a huge success for all attending.

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