It’s 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011: The earth off the coast of Japan’s main island, Honshu, shifts. Japan is hit by one of the most powerful earthquakes in its history. The quake triggers a tsunami with waves towering more than 30 meters high. More than 30,000 people lose their lives.
The resulting economic losses total over USD 300 billion. A substantial amount of these losses are borne by the global insurance industry: current estimates place the total cost to the insurance industry at about USD 30 billion. Many customers of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), the Allianz Group’s industrial insurance specialist, are among those impacted by the disaster. But the AGCS team knew just how to handle this dramatic situation: With the help of AGCS colleagues in Japan, customers were given extensive support.
One of AGCS’s major customers, Daimler AG, is represented in the Japanese market by two companies – Mercedes-Benz Japan Co., Ltd., and the Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation. Mercedes-Benz services the Japanese market with the Mercedes-Benz, smart and Maybach brands; Fuso is part of Daimler’s Global Commercial Vehicle division and supplies light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses worldwide, which are produced at three locations in Japan.
The triple disaster inflicted damage on some of Fuso’s buildings, causing a temporary disruption in production. Fuso’s suppliers were hit even harder. Despite this, the company quickly got a handle on the situation: Suppliers received support, and new business agreements were made with additional suppliers. In the end, the impact of the triple disaster on production and distribution remained limited. Even in places as far away as Germany, automobile producers were scrambling to avoid possible supply-chain interruptions and secure the global flow of supplies.
Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz Cars division in Japan was also impacted by the aftermath of the disaster. The facilities at the Port of Hitachi, just 15 kilometers north of Tokyo, were damaged and full operations could not be resumed for weeks. Importers of German products were forced to use other ports in some cases. Nevertheless, the local Mercedes-Benz sales organization succeeded in preventing sales from slipping: In 2011, a total of 32,000 cars were sold in Japan – an increase of 7 percent over the previous year.
In the wake of the disaster in Japan, the AGCS team proved that it is possible to quickly and reliably process complex claims. AGCS representatives and those responsible at Daimler Insurance Services GmbH worked together to quickly assess the extent of the damages. A few weeks later, Allianz delivered the first partial payments. Within just eight months, the claims of all Daimler companies affected by the disaster had been settled. “We are extremely impressed with AGCS’s performance,” says Dr. Hanns Martin Schindewolf, CEO of Daimler Insurance Services GmbH.