Rafael Ramírez Cruz: “We value law firms’ specialization; their solutions must connect to the realities of specific businesses”
The head of AXA Spain’s legal department tells us about what he looks for in external counsel, future challenges for the insurance sector, and how AXA uses technology to deliver value.
Leaders League: How has the insurance sector been affected by Covid-19? What long-term impacts do you foresee?
Rafael Ramírez Cruz: Like all sectors, the insurance industry has been affected by the crisis caused by Covid-19. This situation is not reflected in most of the sector's policies and has generated many questions among policyholders. Similarly, companies have included additional services to help deal with the consequences of the pandemic.
Some products as life or health insurance may see an upsurge in demand in the long term.
Before becoming AXA Spain’s legal director in July 2019, you were responsible for data privacy, among other things. What kinds of measures did the insurance industry put in place to safeguard data?
As an industry based on the processing of personal data, the GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] has been a challenge for insurers.
A privacy impact assessment has been incorporated into the design of every process and product. It is important to analyze in detail any use of data, seeking the necessary legitimacy for the use of the data and the minimization of the use of data. We also have increased the analysis of our external suppliers in order to secure our customers’ data.
Another challenge we have faced is the need to inform data owners, in a clear and understandable way, of the purposes for which their personal data will be used, the rights they have, the legitimizing bases, and so on. This is an ongoing task we must continue to perform for greater transparency with our customers.
What areas of legal work keep you especially busy, and for what kind of work do you rely on external law firms?
Adapting to increasingly demanding regulations is the area that keeps us the busiest. In recent years the regulatory requirements have grown dramatically. The client must be better informed about what they are going to purchase, and this is a challenge in terms of clear and concise documentation to be delivered. Likewise, distribution regulations have been a challenge and we have had to review various entity procedures.
External firms help us by giving us a second opinion on complicated issues. Their global vision allows us to be enriched by the experience they have in working for different insurance companies.
What do you look for in external legal counsel?
I especially value their specialization in the specific subject we want to outsource. It is also important that they provide solutions connected to the reality of the specific business. The solutions they propose must be realistic and innovative at the same time.
I also appreciate the availability of tools that allow us to follow a project or judicial procedure in a simple way and with up-to-date information.
What challenges do you foresee for the insurance sector in general, and how does AXA plan to overcome them?
Our clients’ needs are changing, and we must be agile in offering them solutions that meet those needs. It is also important that we adapt to the new realities in terms of product purchasing, taking advantage of all the benefits that new technologies provide us.
Artificial intelligence can be an opportunity to offer solutions to our customers but also to avoid problems before they even occur, with information provided by the company in advance.
How does AXA use technology to increase efficiencies and deliver value to clients, both internally and from an insurtech product perspective?
The use of technologies such as chatbots has allowed us to get to know our customers better and offer them solutions that are more tailored to their needs. The automation of processes allows us to provide much faster solutions to customers and without human error.
In relation to insurtech, AXA is particularly active through AXA Opensurance, an initiative that allows us to learn about new insurance initiatives and integrate them into our products and processes.
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