Sumitomo and Co-Creation—Articulating a Vision—

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance

Going beyond insurance to address disaster prevention, prepare for any eventuality, and ensure peace of mind

Insurance companies have hitherto focused exclusively on offering insurance products that financially compensate for damage caused by accidents or disasters. Now, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance is complementing this core mission by also addressing the need for disaster prevention and early recovery. Having researched the needs and planned pre- and post-compensation solutions, the company has been providing these solutions to corporations, individuals, and municipalities since April 2023.

Offering disaster prevention supply packs in response to the voice of the customer

The government calls for the stockpiling of food and other emergency supplies in readiness for any eventuality. Yet, a questionnaire survey of individuals by Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance found that more than half of the respondents lacked emergency supplies and more than 70% of those respondents were interested in purchasing emergency kits. A Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance staff member involved in the survey says, “According to many respondents, opportunities to purchase emergency kits are rare, emergency supplies are troublesome to manage, and they don’t know what they should stockpile.”

In light of the survey results and in partnership with Tokyo-based Sagawa Advance, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance planned and developed several types of emergency supplies. These include a 3-day emergency rations pack to be used by consumers in their homes if disaster strikes, an in-vehicle stockpile pack for employees commuting by car, and a survival kit for returning home comprising a radio, a poncho, food, and other items that employees who are at work when disaster strikes may need when making their way home.

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance developed several different emergency packs, each designed to meet particular needs.

According to Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance staff, the needs of individuals and companies differ and so various emergency packs are required. For companies, if the quantities are large enough, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance can offer a degree of customization, for example by including light-duty helmets in some emergency packs.
Recognizing that management of emergency supplies is considered troublesome, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance notifies customers when rations will expire.

Disaster prevention dashboard to help municipalities handle risks

Starting with the medium-term management plan launched in fiscal 2022, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance is emphasizing the provision of risk solutions to support preventative measures before an accident or disaster occurs and to support recovery following an accident or disaster. For disaster prevention, as a support service for municipalities, the company is focusing on a disaster prevention dashboard, an AI-driven solution using meteorological and disaster data.

The disaster prevention dashboard enables prediction of flooding due to heavy rainfall and estimation of the number of damaged buildings in the event of a disaster.

When judging the severity of meteorological conditions and the likely extent of damage, municipalities have to assess large quantities of data from various sources, such as data on precipitation and windspeed from the Japan Meteorological Agency and weather information service providers, as well as information on road and river conditions from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Municipalities must grasp the situation and issue evacuation orders without delay in disaster-prone areas, as indicated by local hazard maps, in order to protect people’s lives.

If damage is extensive and losses are heavy, municipalities must formulate a plan to quickly restore normality to the lives of residents and speed recovery. The need to swiftly collect and analyze local information after disaster strikes was starkly evident in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. A member of staff involved in the disaster prevention dashboard business comments, “We aimed to offer a business intelligence (BI) tool capable of centralizing all necessary information and visualizing risk because we knew it would provide invaluable support for disaster prevention and recovery efforts.

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance prototyped the disaster prevention dashboard in fiscal 2022 and provided it free of charge to more than 100 municipalities nationwide to test its usability. However, it became apparent that centralizing meteorological data and information on rivers and roads would not fully resolve municipalities’ concerns about disaster preparedness.

Thorough examination to determine the kinds of information required in the field revealed a need to predict risks of possible disasters in the future. “We decided to develop a more sophisticated solution, namely, a digital tool capable of analyzing risks and providing actionable information,” explains a staff member involved in the disaster prevention dashboard business.

Deregulatory revision of the Meteorological Service Act at the end of 2023 has provided a tailwind by allowing the private sector to make sophisticated forecasts of landslides, storm surges, waves, floods, and the like. Anticipating the change in the law, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance has been pursuing several joint research projects in recent years, including with the University of Tokyo and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on flood forecasting, with Yokohama National University and Tokyo-based Weathermap on landslide prediction, and with Osaka-based Hydro Technology Institute on prediction of inland flooding from sewage pipes and subterranean waterways, while also examining the use by municipalities of the latest predictions.

In a world where natural disasters are tending to increase in severity, municipalities are under pressure to protect people by issuing warnings and evacuation orders promptly. Through deployment of the disaster prevention dashboard that exploits cutting-edge technology to make predictions, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance aims to support emergency response decision-making by municipalities, which have traditionally relied on the expertise of experienced staff. This initiative is already achieving results. For example, Ehime Prefecture has introduced the disaster prevention dashboard as part of its Urban Risk Visualization Project.

Since Japan is prone to natural disasters, the country will always have a pressing need to enhance disaster prevention and the ability to respond effectively should disaster strike. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance is stepping up its initiatives with a view to becoming a platform provider capable of supporting efforts to safeguard individuals, communities, and society at large.

 Journalist Shumon Mikawa on Sumitomo’s DNA
Though Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance was formed in October 2001 through a merger of Mitsui Marine & Fire Insurance and Sumitomo Marine & Fire Insurance, the company’s history can be traced back to 1893, when Osaka Insurance Co., Ltd. was established by investors who were traders or otherwise active in the copper business in the Kansai region.
In 1917, Fuso Marine Insurance Co., Ltd. was established in Tokyo under the leadership of Kamesaburo Yamashita, the founder of Yamashita Kisen (present-day Mitsui O.S.K. Lines), together with several other founders, including Eiichi Shibusawa, the president of The First National Bank; Toranosuke Furukawa, head of the Furukawa zaibatsu; and Kichizaemon Sumitomo, head of the House of Sumitomo. Osaka Insurance and Fuso Marine Insurance subsequently absorbed some small insurance companies and then merged in 1944 to form Osaka Sumitomo Marine & Fire Insurance.
As a core company under MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance desires to be a risk solutions platform provider. In accordance with the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) management promoted by MS&AD Insurance Group to support a resilient and sustainable society, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance is leading the development of services and the creation of shared value (CSV) in an effort to secure the safety and security of society from the perspective of disaster prevention.
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance is committed to practicing Sumitomo’s business philosophy that involves placing prime importance on integrity and sound management. The company’s endeavors, which transcend the scope of insurance as traditionally conceived, are suffused by the aspiration to ensure safety and security and a desire to build a platform for society as a whole whose hallmarks are integrity and soundness.
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