Prof. Karel Van Hulle
Executive Board Member ICIR
Having dealt with regulation for about 38 years have often wondered why it is so difficult for regulators to find a ready solution for their problems in academic research. I believe that the reasons are to be found both in the way regulation is being developed and in the manner in which academic research takes place today. Regulators do not necessarily want to find the right answer to their problem. They want a solution that is acceptable for the parties involved in the process. Academics attempt to find the right answer to the problems that they have identified. They are not necessarily concerned with the practical consequences of their research for the regulatory process. I believe that the ICIR – by focussing on insurance regulation – can contribute to bringing academics and regulators closer to each other. As insurance regulation will increase in the years to come, a good co-operation would certainly be desirable.
I have often been surprised how little people from outside the insurance industry know about insurance.
Insurance is not felt to be exciting. It is too technical and it is not easy to explain. There is no simple insurance product. In addition, people tend to think about insurance when it is too late and if they have been insured, they often have to struggle to receive an adequate compensation for their damage. Non-life insurance is still often seen as a sort of investment, whilst life-insurance is often perceived as only an investment difficult to distinguish from a pure banking product. As the importance of insurance – both life and non-life – is likely to increase in the future, it is important to explain more clearly what insurance is and what it is not.
Here again, the ICIR can contribute to making insurance more understandable to a broader public. This can be done through the organization of conferences, presentations and dialogues between experts and between experts andoutsiders. The Karel’s Club is one way to have a high-level discussion between experts from industry, supervisory bodies and academics. Conferences can bring together people from different backgrounds to exchange views and to learn from each other’s experience. Presentations by experts from the insurance sector can help to make insurance more easily understood by a wider audience.
As the ICIR is based in the House of Finance at the heart of Goethe University, it is obvious that it must also make an effort to help in education. It is important to attract students to study insurance and to do so ideally in a multi-disciplinary way. The presence of EIOPA in Frankfurt can be used to stimulate education and training, both for young academics and for supervisors.