Cuba, a newly emerging market?


On 17 December 2014, President Obama issued a presidential policy directive normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba in an effort to further engage and empower the Cuban people. However, the new US president is expected to announce his policy on Cuba shortly, which the press has ventured will continue ties with Cuba although with targeted freezing of trade with military-related business interests which, for the moment, should be of limited impact to the insurance / reinsurance sector in the island.

During 2015 and 2016, the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)[1] amended its regulations jointly with the US Department of Commerce. The most recent amendments took effect on 17 October 2016, when the Federal Register published the implementation of some policy measures, including two main adjustments related to professional research and banking. Currently, people subject to US jurisdiction are now permitted to travel to Cuba to attend or to organize professional meetings or conferences, granted they are not promoting tourism. A US bank[2] was granted authority to offer ATM cash withdrawals, with a pre-issued debit Mastercard, in Cuba.

In 2016, about 284,937 Americans visited Cuba, a 74% increase from the previous year. Many of those visiting did so under educational programs that allowed leisure time for exploring and traveling about the island. Additionally, a few US companies began operating in Cuba, i.e. airlines and other services industries related to civil aviation safety, cruise lines, agricultural interchanges, and communications.

The diplomatic rapprochement between the United States and Cuba to eliminate, or at least ease economic sanctions, may create an attractive niche for US carriers within the Cuban insurance market.

Insurance background in Cuba

In our two previous articles about Cuba[3], we discussed the structure of the Cuban insurance market.

Briefly, the Cuban insurance market is composed of two insurance companies: Empresa de Seguros Nacionales [National Insurance Company] (ESEN) and Seguros Internacionales de Cuba, S.A [Cuban International Insurance Company] (ESICUBA). Both companies are subsidiaries of the Caudal Group, supervised by the Ministerio de Finanzas y Precios [Financial and Pricing Ministry] (MFP); therefore, they fully respond to the state´s interests rather than the free markets. Their well-defined scope makes no competition between the two companies inexistent.

ESEN[4] was created under Resolution No. 858/78, on December 22nd 1978 with the purpose of developing insurance and reinsurance operations under both national and foreign currencies. ESEN provides insurance coverage for life, motor, and agricultural business.

ESICUBA[5] was founded on April 9th 1963, under the Financial Ministry’s Resolution No. 416. Its main objective is to secure and provide general insurance, reinsurance, recovery, and salvage services to the government´s assets and the interests of visiting foreign investors. ESICUBA has a London office, Anglo-Caribbean Insurance Agents Ltd., which acts as a liaison between Cuba and the international market.

The reinsurance business in Cuba

Only ESICUBA can negotiate and provide reinsurance coverage for risks located in Cuba. Every year, the board analyzes its retention capacity to determine the maximum insurance retention per business for the next year. ESICUBA negotiates reinsurance protection for all insurance over the maximum retention, i.e., for aviation, hotel construction, oil and gas, businesses, and factories, among others. In addition to placing facultative business with reinsurers abroad, ESICUBA has three reinsurance treaties: Marine, Catastrophic Reinsurance (CAT), and Non-Marine (NMA) for the risks that fall below the mentioned retention.

ESICUBA finds retrocession capacity both in Lloyd’s and non-US markets. Due to the economic sanctions and limitations enforced by the United States embargo against Cuba, none of these can be US companies, nor have a US citizen as acting CEO, except if they receive OFAC authorization first.

Recent investment projects in Cuba raise hopes of future projects. The arrival of new foreign investment in Cuba implies that demand for insurance, with international standards, will grow. The involvement of North American insurers, reinsurers, and brokers is becoming more attractive and vital. Two examples reflect this yet timid development.

The new port terminal in Mariel[6] Province, 25 miles west of Havana City, with capacity for large vessels, located inside the new special economic development zone of Mariel. Such project intends to encourage sustainable economic development by attracting foreign investment.

Beginning in 2011, deep water oil wells were drilled in Cuba’s jurisdictional waters. Union Cuba-Petróleo [State Cuban Oil Company] (CUPET), raises capital to expand projects in the Cuban Exclusive Economic Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Within the last five years, large projects have been in development to access the oil reserves in the Straits of Florida. Several US salvage companies requested permission from OFAC to work with Cuban companies on devising emergency responses for potential oil spill clean-ups. Given the kind, size, and scope of the projects, this area should be considered for future agreements.

How can international carriers enter the Cuban market?

Cuban law seeks to protect the interests of its national insurance companies from foreign competition. For example, Article 39 of the Decreto Ley 313[7]– “De la Zona Especial de Desarrollo Mariel,” (special development zone of Mariel) states that “Cuban insurers, under international competitive conditions, will have the right of first refusal. If this is not possible, the Superintendence of Insurance allows insurance with foreign entities. The regulation for granting the authorisation is issued by the Finance and Prices Ministry”.

Similar language appears in Article 50.1 of the Ley 118[8] “Para la inversión extranjera” (for foreign investment) which states that “Cuban insurers, under international competitive conditions, will have the right of first refusal.”

Any company that wants to act as a broker, insurer, or reinsurer must apply for the Cuban Superintendence’s authorization. Due to the US embargo, US companies and entities where the CEO is a US citizen must first apply for an OFAC license. Once the OFAC license is granted, the approval procedure is the same for all worldwide companies. So far, no foreign insurer or reinsurer has enter the Cuban market.

Review of the Foreign Investment Law and experience with Cuban entities from other sectors reveal three main entry points into the Cuban market:

  1. Join venture with a Cuban entity (Art. 14), the Asociación Económica Internacional [international economic association of mix capital]. This modality requires a joint venture between one or more national investors, and one or more foreigner investors. The new legal entity is different from the parties and adopts the category of Sociedad Anónima [Corporation]. The law does not regulate the proportion each party will retain, but normally the state keeps 51%. However, lately this has changed, allowing the foreign investors to retain more than the typical minority share. This modality constitutes 50% of all current investments in Cuba.
  2. International economic association contract (Art. 15), under IEA format, the foreign investors has the leading role and are allowed to exercise control with a domestic investor assuming the following role. Monetarily speaking, each party is expected to contribute towards running operations of its share of the new business. This form of association is used mainly for hotel administration, production, or professional service advice (i.e. audit and financial advice; some business administration has been present but brokers has not), and represents 45% of all current investments.
  3. Local representation office, representing the remaining 5% of all current investments, are created through Foreign Capital or Mix Capital companies. Because this modality is reserved to marketing products and services of parent companies abroad, it has a non-productive commercial purpose; and therefore, the activities it can undertake are It cannot import or export, carry out wholesale nor retail commerce or service transactions, or transport goods in Cuban territory. Licenses are granted for specific purposes.

Those willing to set up camp in Cuba, need to comply with the above. However, for those not yet ready to physically disembark, there is another way of doing business in the Cuban market, as an ESICUBA direct reinsurer or broker. Currently there is no reinsurer or broker with U.S. capital in such list but nothing prevents them from doing so if they comply with the Superintendence of Insurance requirements (including OFAC licence); whereupon the Finance and Prices Ministry makes the decision to grant permission based on economic, practical, and political considerations.

So the process can take time but it is certainty available alike for the purpose to enter into the local market.

While Cuban laws try to make no distinction between reinsurers and brokers, given that the Cuban government owns the only two preoperative insurance companies, it is unlikely that a direct foreign carrier would be accepted any time soon, as it would be considered competition.

Hiring regulations would also present an obstacle for foreign companies entering the Cuban market. Article 30.1 of Ley 118 stipulates that all workers of any of the modalities mentioned above must be permanent Cuban residents and hired through a national employment agency. However, during the approval process and following local legal regulations, an exemption can be granted to hire all employees directly.

Despite ongoing progress in the relations between Cuba and United States, feelings of uncertainty about the future linger because the new US presidential administration has yet to present its policy on Cuba. However, as of today, all the concessions granted to airlines, cruises lines, and other businesses under the Obama administration are still in effect, potentially signalling the continuation of Obama’s economic openness policy.









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Upcoming Miami Free Seminar: Cyber incident management response in Latin America- Trends, Experiences, and Insights

Software developer programming code on computer

The InterAmerican Bank’s 2016 report, Cyber security: Are we prepared in Latin America? claims 70% of Latin American countries have “some type of data protection within their constitutions”. Moreover, different countries have already enacted or are drafting data protection laws. In many ways, Latin America is inheriting some of the regulatory lessons learned from the rest of the world, and while it remains somewhat behind developed economies from an insurance products perspective, global players are very keen to develop and penetrate the market where demand for cyber insurance is high.

However, the immature regulatory framework encountered in Latin America by insurers creates new scenarios in which more nuanced judgments have to be made. While frameworks like EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandate an organization’s activity for notification and provide clear penalties for non-compliance, Latin American regulations have not really been tested to a high enough level.

All of this uncertainty tends to focus cyber incident response activity in Latin America on IT-led containment activity as a first-party loss to a greater degree than in other jurisdictions. While insurers covering cyber in developed countries will expect more cost for legal support, PR advice and crisis management to protect reputations, Latin American businesses are looking to lock down and recover their technology as a means to moving forward after an attack.

Join us as we discuss trends, experiences, and insights of Cyber incident management response in Latin America.

Date: June 20 2017


5:15 pm Registration

5.30 pm Conference

6:00 pm Informal discussion

6:15 pm Networking

Where: Malbec Room of Novecento 1414 Brickell Ave, MIAMI, FL 33131

Registration deadline: June 19 2017 at 1:00PM. Only 40 available tickets.

To register, please send an email to:

Casual attire. Cost for this event: Free

Topic to be presented by Roberto McQuattie, Cyber Risk Leader for Latin America at Crawford & Company

Roberto McQuattie - Rectangular MediumRoberto McQuattie is cyber risk leader for Latin America at Crawford & Company. He is responsible for developing Crawford’s unique, end-to-end turnkey incident response solution, overseeing the network of accredited Crawford Incident Managers in the region, and maintaining a network of qualified specialist in fields including IT forensics, legal and regulatory notifications, public relations, etc. He holds both a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a master’s degree in Management Information Systems from Florida International University.


About Global Technical Services®
Crawford Global Technical Services® (GTS) is the company’s global solution for large, complex and specialty claims—these encompass a wide range of claims situations across a variety of Global Practice Groups. Overall, it has over 400 of the world’s most experienced senior adjusters and industry specialists operating from 144 locations worldwide.

About Crawford®
Based in Atlanta, Crawford & Company (NYSE: CRD‐A and CRD‐B) is the world’s largest publicly listed independent provider of claims management solutions to insurance companies and self‐insured entities with an expansive global network serving clients in more than 70 countries. The Crawford Solution® offers comprehensive, integrated claims services, business process outsourcing and consulting services for major product lines including property and casualty claims management, workers’ compensation claims and medical management, and legal settlement administration. More information is available at

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AXIS Insurance Miami Opens Doors with Latin American Market Launch Party

AXIS Insurance recently hosted a launch party and meet-the-team cocktail reception at EAST Miami to celebrate the opening of its Miami office. The event featured more than 100 business partners and brokers from the region mingling with AXIS Miami staff, as well as members of AXIS Insurance’s international leadership team, including AXIS Insurance International Division CEO Mark Gregory.



Commenting on the event, Eddie Hussey, CUO, Latin America and Caribbean, for AXIS Insurance, said: “We were pleased to host so many of our friends, business partners and brokers at this special AXIS Miami launch party and meet-the-team cocktail reception. We have had a terrific reception to the recent opening of AXIS Insurance’s Miami office, which operates as AXIS’ Latin American coverholder for our Lloyd’s syndicate (Syndicate 1686). We look forward to working with our clients and broker partners throughout the Latin American and Caribbean insurance community to provide them with facultative reinsurance solutions.”

AXIS Miami officially launched in January 2017. It operates as AXIS Insurance’s Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) regional coverholder for AXIS Syndicate 1686. AXIS Miami is led by Mr. Hussey, who has more than 20 years’ experience in Latin American insurance and reinsurance sector.

The launch of AXIS Miami expands AXIS Insurance’s global underwriting platform by enabling it to deliver a full range of facultative reinsurance solutions to the LAC region.

Companies and brokers interested in working with AXIS Miami should contact Sharanjit Chaggar, Vice President, AXIS Miami, at


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Kennedys and Carroll, McNulty & Kull LLC complete merger creating global insurance firm

Kennedys are pleased to announce that they have today completed their merger with leading US insurance firm Carroll McNulty & Kull (CMK), creating a global insurance practice that will offer clients unrivalled coverage and expertise in all their key markets.

The merger brings together around 100 lawyers, including 41 partners, from CMK and over 975 lawyers from Kennedys, with additional joint staff numbering 750, creating a firm with an enhanced presence across the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Now with offices in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas, in addition to Kennedys existing office in Miami. Kennedys office in Miami, which provides both US law advice as well as acting as the hub for claims and coverage issues in Latin America and the Caribbean, will also be named as Kennedys CMK in due course. This merger represents further significant growth for Kennedys in the Americas after also having opened five offices in Latin America since the second half of 2016 – in Brazil, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and a thriving association in Argentina. If you would like more information about the merger or Kennedys expanding presence in the region, please contact Hilda Welcker, our Business Development Manager for Latin America based in our Miami office, at or by telephone on +1 305 371 1111.


For more information about the merger, please click here:


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TransRe´s Carlos Davis and Víctor Mora participated as speakers in the 2017 Miami | Latin American Claims (Re) Insurance Forum

Carlos Davis, Vice President of Claims was part of the panel: Complex property damage and time element scenario “The Perfect Storm”. Loss mitigation, overlapping incidents, wording issues, extraordinary circumstances.

Víctor Mora, Vice President of Surety and Credit participated in the conference Surety implications of constructions projects gone wrongdifferent type of bonds, reality of on demand bonds, difficulties of assessing ALOP, and pursuing recovery.

Carlos Davis was part of an expert panel on the second day of the Forum: “The Perfect Storm” that focused on the damages caused by weather conditions where speakers discussed a complex power generation loss in Colombia and its extraordinary circumstances, and showcased efficient and proactive practices that resulted in finding the best possible solution. Carlos Davis enriched the discussion from the claims perspective with his knowledge and vast experience, adopting this time the viewpoint of reinsurers.

Day2-20-X2 Perfect Storm

On the third day of the Forum, Victor Mora co-presented a comprehensive analysis of line 12 of Mexico City’s subway from the underwriting perspective comparing the pros and cons of both surety bond and seguro de caución cover.

Day3-126-X3 Surety Panel

The Miami I Latin America Claims (Re) Insurance Forum was held in Miami from May 15th to May 18th, and covered subjects and aspects relevant to the industry, from a practical perspective, as well as the most recent and significant developments and updates based on studies and real-life cases.

TransRe has been a proud sponsor of the Forum for the last two years.

About TransRe

Trans Re

TransRe is a leading international reinsurance organization headquartered in New York with operations worldwide; offering reinsurance capacity on both a treaty and facultative basis.

TransRe have built their business on the principles of capacity, reliability, expertise, and creativity to deliver the risk transfer solutions you need to support your business. TransRe will work closely with you, listening and asking to understand your strategic objectives, and will offer you the full spectrum of property and casualty products, services, and support to help you grow and succeed. TransRe have dedicated teams of local professionals near you and they build relationships based on the fundamental promise that they will be there when needed. TransRe have the ability and the willingness to pay your claims. TransRe value risk.





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Recurring Problems with Construction Projects – 2017 Miami | Latin America Claims (re) Insurance Forum

Thornton Tomasetti is happy to be a Loyal Sponsor of the Miami | Latin America Claims (re) Insurance Forum, which concluded on Thursday May 18. Like in previous years, this is a great networking and educational forum for this exciting and growing market.

We spoke about Recurring Problems with Construction Projects. Our round table was moderated by Anna Weiss, Head of Construction Latin American at Kennedys, and was joined by an excellent group of panelists including Andre Werneck, Director Advanta Brazil, Rogelio Lopes, Regional Head Claims South America, AGCS, Javier Guardia, Chief Claims Latin American, Liberty, and Nicolas Saenz, Vice President, Thornton Tomasetti.

TT Miami 2

Our architects, structural engineers and MEP experts help insurance clients analyze pre- and post-loss risks, damage, and property claims arising from natural or man-made perils.

Claims Forum Miami day 61

Roundtable 2

Miami claims forum day 14

Miami claims forum day 139

TT Miami

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Day 3 photos. 2017 Miami | Latin America Claims (re) Insurance Forum

The ORIGINAL and the only (re) insurance forum in Miami
focused 100% on CLAIMS for the Latin American region


Roundtable 1 Cyber

Claims Forum Miami day 61

Roundtable 2

Claims Forum Miami day 71

Roundtable Surety



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