A RAPA Update
By Genevra Pflaum
Reinsurance News, June 2021
Recently the Reinsurance Administration Professionals Association (RAPA) Board of Governors and Initiative Leads had a discussion about a RAPA tag line. If we could come up with one thing we wanted to portray about RAPA, what would it be? We came up with this: “RAPA—Shaping the Future of Reinsurance Administration.” What do you think? It’s catchy, right? The reason we felt that this portrays RAPA is that we have all seen it in action over the years. Even going back to the beginnings of RAPA in the 1980s when it was a round table of reinsurance administration professionals sharing challenges and ideas, RAPA has always been about collaboration, innovation and giving back to the industry in the form of ideas, knowledge and best practices. The focus of these discussions was on ways to make positive changes in their own organizations that would ultimately shape the industry as a whole.
Over the years we have seen quality in reinsurance reporting increase, relationships between ceding companies and reinsurance companies get stronger and treaty language become clearer, to name a few things. Not to say that RAPA is solely responsible for influencing these changes, but our focus is talking about these challenges, sharing ideas and solutions, and educating, so I do believe RAPA has had meaningful impact. Around the start of my involvement with RAPA, about 15 years ago, I remember many conversations and presentations about administration having a “seat at the table.” We were addressing the challenge of administration often being left out of key discussions on new deals or products and then having to react when it was time to get everything onto a system that didn’t necessarily easily support the business. It took several years, but the presentations and discussions started changing to people sharing experiences of how their companies had shifted to include administration in more discussions, earlier in the process. Again, RAPA wasn’t the only party affecting this change, but it did provide an industry communal platform for sharing challenges, experiences, ideas and solutions. Now, if we could only figure out conversions! That’s sort of a joke, but not really as that is a topic that we tackle in some form literally every year. Like Groundhog Day, it feels like the same conversation we were having 10 years ago. But we’ll get there, I have no doubt.
One of the ways RAPA addresses new challenges, shares ideas, and educates administration professionals is through our initiatives. RAPA currently has these initiatives in action:
- Data Quality,
- Audit and Compliance,
- Risk Management, and
Most of these have been the backbone of RAPA Initiatives for many years. Innovation is a recently added initiative but is one that will stay around as this industry is ripe for innovation. Initiatives can be short-term efforts, such as the Post Level Term Initiative that began in 2016 and concluded in 2017 with the delivery of its white paper and presentation or they can be long-term endeavors, like what are best practices when processing conversions. Essentially an Initiative is a group of about five to 10 participants from various companies (i.e., direct/reinsurance/retrocessionaires) that meet monthly to discuss challenges and opportunities relevant to that initiative. The initiative group will decide on a focus for the coming year and a deliverable that they want to pursue. This could be in the form of a white paper, a presentation, a webinar, etc., to share ideas, best practices, and solutions with the RAPA community. Here are some details about what each Initiative is currently focusing on:
- Education—The purpose of the Education Initiative is to support RAPA's mission by developing educational material and presenting training on leading reinsurance administration practices and processes. In 2020, the Education Initiative presented a webinar titled "Detecting Fraud, Adjudicating Contestable Claims, and Red Flags" and developed a Treaty Clause Checklist. In 2021, the Initiative is considering refreshing the “RAPA Reinsurance Terms and Definitions” document as well as a webinar on a yet to be determined topic.
- Data Quality—During these challenging times, building relationships with our clients is critical. The Data Quality Initiative is focused on developing the interaction required to consistently get data in a secure way, understanding the data, and translating the data for our stakeholders. The development of the “Letter of Administration Partnership for New Client or New Business” will proactively provide our clients the requirements needed to administer the data in a quality manner.
- Audit and Compliance—The Audit and Compliance Initiative works to develop tools and techniques for assessing audits and compliance reviews of the reinsurance administration function. The key goal is to provide common reinsurance guidelines and methodology approaches for direct writers, reinsurers and retrocessionaires. In 2020 the team produced a whitepaper on auditing term conversions.
- Risk Management—The RAPA Risk Management Initiative works to develop tools and techniques related to risk identification, assessment and mitigation of the reinsurance administration function. This past year the focus has been on effects of the pandemic on the risk framework, with a special concentration on operations and business continuation. The team assisted in the coordination and led a panel discussion on the impacts of COVID-19 on our industry that was presented at the RAPA 2020 Fall Conference. The team will be taking a deeper dive into these topics and categorizing and mitigating their risks relative to the risk control matrix.
- Innovation—Term conversions challenge all parts of the industry from ceding company, reinsurer, to retrocessionaire because they often require manual intervention to calculate reinsurance premiums for financial reporting. Conversion rules often aren’t setup at inception. Treaty provisions are both complex and vague. Data can be inaccurate or missing entirely. RAPA’s Innovation Initiative focused on these problem statements to find ways in which the industry can overcome these challenges.
(Did you notice that word “conversions” in there a few times?)
We will also be adding a Membership Initiative to help us focus on ways to attract and retain RAPA members. We are an organization that is only as strong as our community so we are always looking for ways to reach out to those who may not yet know much about RAPA.
Most of us have probably seen the partnership between reinsurance actuaries and reinsurance administrators strengthen over the years. And with that has come stronger processes, easier ways to market and manage new products and better data quality throughout the organization. We don’t have many actuaries that participate in RAPA, but we certainly welcome them and the resulting positive partnership. We are always looking to better understand what’s going on in the industry and gain insight into other areas. If you have an idea for a presentation or an Initiative, we welcome your feedback so please feel free to reach out. And, of course, you are always welcome to attend our conferences, we’re a very welcoming and fun group.
Like many industries and organizations during this challenging past year, I am impressed and proud of how RAPA was able to pivot and still engage our members with interesting and valuable content. We hosted our Spring 2020 Meeting, Fall 2020 Conference and Spring 2021 Meeting all virtually. Given that we have gotten better each time, we are looking forward to bringing together an excellent virtual Fall 2021 Conference the week of Oct. 18. Look for details coming later this summer at https://reinsadmin.org/conference/. The recent Spring Meeting was held in early May and we successfully included some of the networking that we are accustomed to when we meet in person. We also had an interesting panel presentation covering topics relevant to the challenges and changes we are all facing as we slowly move out of this pandemic. We learned about ways to be more secure and diligent in our online activity both for work and personal life. We heard about the ongoing changes in our organizational culture, work from home and office plans as we move forward and maximizing the employee experience. We also discussed the mental health impacts of the last year and learned of some ways to help stay mentally healthy. Does your company do “no Zoom days”? Or the “47-minute meeting”? Do you practice meditation? It might be worth considering these ideas.
We have realized that more people can benefit from our bi-annual RAPA meetings when they are virtual. However, we also recognize that virtual networking can’t fully replace face-to-face networking. We have yet to work out the details but are committed to figuring out a model that includes both virtual and in-person options going forward. Through these recent challenges have come new and exciting opportunities for RAPA to reach more reinsurance professionals, get insight and expertise from more participants and be even stronger at “Shaping the Future of Reinsurance Administration.”
We are always open to partnerships within the industry. We have several strong partnerships—TAI, LOMA, the CRC and MIB to name a few. If you have an idea for a partnership or an idea for an Initiative please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out our website at www.reinsadmin.org.
I hope you have enjoyed this RAPA update. I’ll close with some things that I strongly believe—I am proud to be a part of the life insurance industry. I am proud to be a part of an industry that provides a small bit of comfort to people at a time of despair. And I am proud to be a part of an organization that works to make a part this industry better every year.
Statements of fact and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Society of Actuaries, the editors, or the respective authors’ employers.
Genevra Pflaum is the current RAPA chair and works at Hannover Re. She has been in the reinsurance industry for over 20 years and involved with RAPA for over 15 years. She can be contacted at email@example.com.