The company, part of the German insurance group Talanx, is an industrial insurer and specialises in insurance for small, medium-sized and large national and international companies. It is especially in the latter segment where the role of the risk manager is crucial. It should therefore come as no surprise that HDI has been one of Belrim’s loyal partners for years. We put some questions to Chris Staes, managing director and legal representative of HDI Global SE Belgium.

 

Can you explain HDI Global SE and how does the Belgian arm fit into the picture?

Chris Staes: The HDI Global SE group belongs to the German insurance group Talanx, which is listed on the stock exchange but is also some 77% owned by the mutual HDI Haftpflichtverband der Deutschen Industrie VvaG, which includes representatives of German industry and more than 200 syndicates. Its founding dates back to 1903 and aimed to expand capacity in industrial insurance. Consequently, industrial insurance is still part of the group’s DNA today. In 1969, our Belgian branch was created and initially this was to offer local support and insurance solutions to our group’s mainly German and other international clients. Meanwhile, with our Belgian branch, we have grown into one of the largest local industrial insurers for Belgian and Luxembourg customers that we can support worldwide. And over the past years, in addition to the segment of large industrial and international customers, we have also built a strong position in the segment of small and especially medium-sized companies.

 

At the industrial level, in addition to HDI Global SE, there is also HDI Global Speciality. What does this stand for?

Chris Staes: As the name suggests, our sister company, which is 100% owned by HDI Global, focuses on slightly more specialised products, including professional liability insurance for engineering firms and architects. We can help support this from HDI Global and combine it with more traditional cover around construction risks, enabling a comprehensive package to be offered to our customers. HDI Global Speciality also offers directors’ liability, Errors & Omissions and contamination (recall) policies. Finally, HDI Global Specialty Belgium also offers some specific insurance products around sports accidents and film & events. The Belgian branch of HDI Global Specialty has been operating in the Belgian market since 2019.

 

HDI Global Speciality is also active in art insurance while there is also a link with the Golden Jubilee. Can you tell us more about that?

Chris Staes: Fine Art insurance protects valuable and precious objects that are exhibited, stored or transported. With the variety of insured objects, often of high value and the need for proactive risk management and specialised claims handling, Fine Art is a complex insurance business. Our experienced team knows how to provide brokers and clients with the right service. It focuses mainly on private collectors, museums and exhibitions but we can also offer solutions to art dealers and vieling masters. And to add extra splendour to its golden jubilee, BELRIM has chosen the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels as its venue. A workshop on art insurance could not be missing and Dr Alexander Wiebe, Managing Director, Art & Lifestyle of HDI Global Speciality will introduce everyone to this lesser-known insurance branch.

 

How many employees does HDI Global SE have in Belgium and how is its turnover distributed?

Chris Staes: In Belgium, around 100 employees work for HDI Global SE and around 15 for HDI Global Specialty. So 115 employees together for more than 350 million euros of collections. The fire, liability and transport departments are the three largest and balance each other out in terms of turnover. Our Marine division also specialises in commodities and also has a supporting role in this activity for the entire HDI Global group. This shows that our expertise is also appreciated within the wider organisation. Our Engineering department has also built up a nice portfolio in recent years in products such as construction risks and ten-year liability. Finally, we support our loyal customers with insurance solutions for cyber risks. Our colleagues at HRC, HDI Risk Consulting, also accompany our customers with advice on prevention and provide our customers with the necessary tools to manage their risks.

 

What are key features of HDI Global SE?

Chris Staes: Within the HDI Global SE group, we currently manage more than 5,000 international programmes worldwide, some 250 of which are in Belgium. We are very strong in the major international risks and have a very well-functioning network to that end, allowing us to issue local policies in more than 175 countries through our own companies or through fronting partners. This helps us to work out very good insurance solutions with our customers, which are compliant with local legislation. It is also important for us to offer our customers sustainable solutions so that we can build a long-term relationship of trust. And meanwhile, we have also become a major player in offering captive or alternative risk transfer solutions. So today we look beyond traditional insurance.

 

And how should we see the interaction of that Belgian entity within a broader group?

Chris Staes: Here in Belgium, we are responsible for providing insurance solutions for our Belgian and Luxembourg customers, both national and international. If we have a customer headquartered in Belgium or Luxembourg and it operates in 40 countries, for example, we will work out an international solution for the entire company and a local policy will be issued in each country where there are branches. We can do this thanks to our strong international network and thanks to the know-how within our group, but also thanks to our strong local anchoring. Thanks to ample proxies, our employees are able to support our customers well. We also receive various forms of support from within our group. For instance, we have a large network of risk engineers and we have a number of tools at our disposal, such as Green 4.0 and Argos. Green 4.0 is an online tool where the exchange around risk engineering takes place and Argos in turn maps all risks around natural catastrophes per location. All this is very important because we operate internationally. Moreover, we have many underwriting tools at our disposal: technical tools that help us work out insurance solutions. We also have a large team of claims handlers who are experienced in settling national and international claims. Here, we are also supported by our large international network.

 

How does it interact with customers?

Chris Staes: We only work through brokers, independent parties who advise clients. We do not work directly and that is a deliberate choice. We have trust and believe in the triangular relationship between broker, client and insurance company. All brokers looking for an insurance solution know they can come to us and know our risk appetite. And if we get a request, we will make an offer and realise a programme in lead or co-insurance depending on the outcome of the negotiations. What you often see with customers, including Belrim members, is that they use several brokers. But once someone is a customer with us, we try to build a good relationship by getting to know the customer as well as possible. In other words, we know our partners and risk managers. We always try to keep an open dialogue with our customers. That direct, personal contact based on trust, transparency and accessibility is very important, especially when a problem arises. That is also why we invest in a strong team of claims managers who can support our customers and broker partners when it becomes important, namely in case of a claim.

 

Is your group responding to new technologies?

Chris Staes: Today, we describe our mission as ‘Partner in Transformation’. After all, many of our customers are facing an ecological transition and there are new risks associated with this in which we can assist them. We can provide solutions for these risks at various levels. Examples include hydrogen, new energy, wind and solar farms, etc. As an insurance group, we have a lot of know-how that we can use to support our customers. This theme is also very much alive within BELRIM. At the same time, we are naturally open to simplifying and automating our processes. To this end, we are also looking at artificial intelligence to provide us with solutions: of course, for us this is more of a supporting factor than a substitute.

 

You are the main sponsor of BELRIM’s Golden Jubilee event. Why? And how important is the organisation to you?

Chris Staes: We have been a loyal sponsor and partner of BELRIM for many years and we will remain so in the future. This fits in with our philosophy of long-term relationships based on mutual trust. We think it is important to help support the risk managers who play a key role in their companies and help ensure that BELRIM can continue to fulfil its role in risk management. As you know, besides the risk managers, a number of fellow insurers and a large number of insurance intermediaries are also members of BELRIM. And that is of course our core focus group with whom we generate most of our turnover with our industry programmes. On top of that, we also like to see that Belrim has more and more resources at its disposal for further professionalisation. Organising seminars is important to discuss current topics and it is also an ideal opportunity to establish or maintain contacts. Incidentally, with HDI Global as a group, we are also one of the strategic partners of FERMA, the umbrella association of European risk management associations. Here, too, HDI Global takes its responsibility to support our risk manager partners.

 

LinkedIn Chris Staes

Next events

  • Jun. 11, 2024 Belrim Events

    Belrim general assembly

  • Jun. 20, 2024 Belrim Events

    Belrim Golden Jubilee