UNSGSA Queen Máxima Video Address for the International Association of Insurance Supervisors Global Seminar

UNSGSA Queen Máxima is pictured delivering pre-recorded video remarks for the opening of the IAIS online Global Seminar on 9 July 2024.

H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), provided pre-recorded video remarks for the opening of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) online Global Seminar 2024, held 9 July 2024.


Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to provide opening remarks for this year’s IAIS Global Seminar. Thank you for your valuable time and presence.

Over the past 15 years as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate, my role has been to support and advocate for policies and business practices that ensure people have access to affordable, effective, and secure financial services.

You have been a crucial ally in this. You were one of the first financial standard-setting bodies to truly recognize financial inclusion and embrace its potential to build resilience.

We have seen outstanding progress in access to financial services. Take access to basic bank accounts. In 2011, just 50 percent of all adults had an account at a bank or mobile money provider. By 2022, this had jumped to 76 percent. This year, we expect this figure to be around 80 percent.

But what about insurance? Despite commendable efforts, it has not gained the same traction.

Five years ago, global insurance penetration was barely 7 percent on average. In Africa, less than 3 percent.

There are 3.8 billion uninsured or underinsured people in emerging markets alone, where only 10 percent of climate risks are covered, while people with low incomes are the ones most at risk.

We saw this after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in 2013. A study six years later found that those who had access to financial services, including microinsurance, were better able to repair damaged homes and restart their lives. Those without insurance payouts? They resorted to savings, sold their assets, or sought help from family and friends.

Insurance allows people to recover from shocks, achieve their financial goals, and have more security and control over their finances—what we call financial health.

Let us imagine for a moment: what would insurance look like through the lens of financial health?

First, the focus would shift to consumers — from consumer protection to consumer empowerment, and from pushing products to designing holistic solutions.

Insurance providers would build trust with their customers and be more transparent. They would make it simple and smooth for customers to process claims.

Second, there would be innovation. Technology and data would help people manage risk and plan their finances with the least amount of stress and worry possible.

And last and third, there would be also nimble public-private partnerships to address the growing risks of climate change and consider how to embed and bundle insurance to meet people’s needs.

For example, Pula, an agritech in Kenya, has served 15.4 million African farmers by bundling insurance into agricultural inputs like fertilizer and seeds. If a climate event strikes, farmers receive a voucher for replacement seeds. This very straightforward product has scaled and helped so many farmers.

In Indonesia, AXA Insurance and DANA, a mobile wallet company, have launched an insurance product with premiums of less than two US dollars for life and health coverage.

Both these products were designed with the needs and behaviors of low-income customers in mind. Plus, the digital payments technology can really reach the last mile. This is the promise of insurance to strengthen financial health.

I leave you with a challenge.

As you revise the 2012 guidance on regulation and supervision for inclusive insurance, look at it through the lens of financial health. Beyond regulatory frameworks and new product registrations, what are the outcomes for customers? How well do you understand the challenges they face?

Collecting data will be critical to monitor and understand what customers need and the impact of insurance products on their lives.

I wish you a fruitful dialogue today and encourage a singular focus on impact and action. I look forward to supporting you on your next steps. Thank you very much.