Director of BNP Paribas Cardif Retail Banking Partnerships in Japan, Kazuhiko Miyamori holds a degree in political philosophy and has 25 years of experience in the insurance sector. He shares insights on the impact of the health crisis and the local solutions provided by the insurer in a country where people’s concern about unemployment has been increasing amid uncertainty.
What are the main challenges you currently face in Japan?
Employment in Japan hasn’t been hit as hard by the Covid-19 crisis in Europe or the United States for the moment. However, the Japanese have suffered from a drop in their income and job cuts have led to unemployment in some industries. This situation has received extensive media coverage, creating a climate of uncertainty in the country. Our strategic partner Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank (SuMi Trust) saw that more and more people were searching for information about unemployment on the web. They contacted us to work together on a new approach to unemployment cover integrated into our creditor insurance policy. To precisely identify customer needs, we conducted a follow-up survey, covering a sample group of 2,000 people, to gauge real estate purchase intentions among Japanese consumers and how Covid-19 had impacted their needs. The results showed that the Japanese were increasingly concerned about their ability to repay a mortgage in the event of unemployment or bankruptcy. We thus naturally wanted to find ways to satisfy these new protection needs
How does the new insurance cover work?
This new unemployment insurance is now integrated into our mortgage insurance product. All new SuMi Trust customers who subscribe to this insurance can benefit from this offer. Concretely, if a policyholder loses their job and remains unemployed for more than a month we take over repayment of their mortgage.
How did you introduce this new insurance coverage?
We agreed with our partner that this product should be rolled out very quickly in the market to address current customer needs. We were extremely responsive and launched the new coverage in the Japanese market in November 2020.
Has the project proved a success?
We were able to innovate despite a difficult environment by working closely with our partner SuMi Trust to rapidly introduce a new insurance offer that addresses rising demand for protection in Japan. BNP Paribas Cardif is now the only insurer to offer unemployment insurance as part of mortgage insurance in Japan. This new offer has been arranged by significant numbers of policyholders since its launch, showing that it clearly matches current customer concerns.
One last question – what do you enjoy most about your work?
I’m proud to be able to work on initiatives that help our customers during this challenging period. I can see the tangible impact of what we do on the lives of people by enabling them to better protect themselves and look to the future with greater serenity