The International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) is a long established and unique global trade association representing cooperative and mutual insurers from around the world.
The common bond uniting ICMIF members is that, as cooperatives or mutuals, they place the interest of policyholders/members before those of shareholders, working hard to ensure that they offer the best possible range of affordable products for their customers.
ICMIF aims to promote and work with the cooperative and mutual insurance sector globally by being a leader in providing information and services to members, and representing the interests of, the global cooperative and mutual insurance sector.
Working together with the members in this way underpins the Federation’s commitment to providing “a global reach for local strength”.
Established in 1922
Initially established in 1922 as the Insurance Committee of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) with a view to strengthening collaboration amongst cooperative and mutual insurers, ICMIF has grown over the years, significantly changing direction in 1972.
In that year ICMIF formed an independent Secretariat, simultaneously moving away from the ICA. A further strategic review of operations was undertaken by members in 1992 at which time the organisation was significantly restructured in order to align itself more closely with the changing needs of its members, with a focus on delivering business-related services.
Following the appointment of the current Chief Executive, Shaun Tarbuck, the activities of the Federation were again reviewed as a result of which a new six-point strategy has been implemented geared to delivering the Federation’s services to the members.
With just five member cooperative insurers when it was formed, today’s ICMIF has grown hugely, with significant numbers of new members joining in recent years. By 1993, when the present Secretariat was established, 75 organisations were members from 45 countries.
By 2012 this number has risen to 219 members with approximately one-third of the membership in Europe, a further third in the Americas and the remainder representing Asia and Oceania, Africa and the Middle East.
This individual membership in turn represents over 600 distinct insurance organisations with assets approaching USD 1.5 trillion. Spread across more than 70 countries, these organisations employ over 260,000 people and represented 5.6% of the world’s insurance market in 2011.
A further 2,700 mutual insurers are indirect members of ICMIF through their national mutual trade associations, which would bring ICMIF’s outreach to more than 15% of the global market in insurance. ICMIF can truly claim to be the voice of the world’s cooperative and mutual insurance sector.
Stock Companies and other organisations can be eligible for membership provided that the stock is predominantly owned by popularly-based organisations such as cooperatives or trade unions. Membership is focused on how an organisation operates for the benefit of its insureds and how it embraces the mutual and cooperative values rather than its legal definition—which can often be dictated by the fact that there are no cooperative or mutual insurance laws in their country.
The promotion of our mutual/cooperative values is a key theme underlying all ICMIF activities, and is also addressed through specific projects to help members fully realise the competitive benefits of integrating cooperative/mutual principles within their business model.
As part of this work, our statistical analysis of the mutual/cooperative sector within the context of the wider insurance industry provides unparalleled market research which has been used in the promotion of the mutual/cooperative sector with a range of internal and external stakeholders, from consumers and staff to legislators and the media.
Promoting the sector
The insurance industry has not escaped the effects of the global economic crisis: increased government vigilance and increased consumer cynicism are just two of the effects which remind us of the importance of promoting the cooperative/mutual way of doing business, to demonstrate the benefits of being consumer owned and consumer governed.
To promote the unique identity of mutual/cooperative insurers, ICMIF works closely with many other professional organisations around the world. Many of these are partners within the mutual/cooperative sector, such as the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), under whose auspices ICMIF was founded in 1922, AMICE (Association of Mutual Insurers and Insurance Cooperatives of Europe), AIM (l’Association Internationale de la Mutualité) and WOCCU (World Council of Credit Unions), as well as national-level organisations.
ICMIF also works with other organisations that provide direction, regulation and policy to the global insurance industry. These include IAIS, IASB, OECD, ILO and the World Bank. ICMIF is a member of the IAIS (International Association of Insurance Supervisors) and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).
An example of what can be done to promote the sector can be found in the UK:
Launched in the UK on March1, 2010, The Mutuals Manifesto 2010 has been created by leading organisations supporting the UK mutual sector and calls for more businesses to belong to their customers. The Manifesto is also aimed at challenging Government to create a Government Office for Mutuals, with a designated Minister for Mutuals, and to gaining a commitment that mutual sector legislation keeps pace with company law reform.