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Business Puerto Rico Magazine - Business in Puerto Rico.
On December 8, 2010, Business Puerto Rico magazine interviewed two of the chief officers of Cooperativa de Seguros de Vida de Puerto Rico (COSVI): Ricardo A. Rivera-Cardona, the 4th - and youngest - president of COSVI, and Raymond Ortiz, the first president of COSVI Asset Management, CAMC, a wholly owned subsidiary of COSVI.
Rivera-Cardona began the interview by reflecting on the 50 year history of the cooperative, providing the security people deserve. "COSVI was founded to supply the needs of the cooperatives. At that time, no one wanted to insure the general clientele that the cooperatives were insuring. COSVI eventually grew steadily among the cooperatives. Throughout our history, we have been insuring against risk in: life insurance, financial or retirement plans instruments, disability and the health insurance business. When the strategic decision was made to get out of the health insurance business, we focused to further develop our life insurance business, creating above and beyond the typical life products: for example, insurance for paid in full mortgages in case of death, cash value, funeral, and supplementary products, such as catastrophic illness insurance. In addition, we also provide pension plan products," said Rivera-Cardona. "We have also developed and market disability related products, such as SINOT. COSVI is one of the top insurers providing SINOT insurance to the employers on the island" continued Rivera-Cardona. "In the current era, we are big in terms of insurance products, but we also do a lot of things that are not related to insurance: For example, facilities management, contract management, the procurement process, inventory, storage space, digitalization, and everything related with systems...those are things that you need to handle in order to have a healthy business. However, these are not items that are the main purpose of an insurance company. As an insurance company, we need to make sure that the operational processes run flawlessly, like the actuarial and the underwriting areas. So we decided to create a subsidiary to administer all the initiatives not related to insurance in order to focus in our core business, life insurance. We call it COSVI Asset Management Corporation (CAMC), and that subsidiary handles all these non-insurance, yet highly relevant and important processes," said Rivera-Cardona. On describing the current standing of COSVI as a cooperative corporation in Puerto Rico, Rivera-Cardona said the following: That separation between COSVI and CAMC will help us do that, because that will liberate us from the day to day hassles of running a business," said Rivera-Cardona. The important thing is that we look forward," said Rivera-Cardona. While COSVI is developing and exploring other and creative ways to expand its business, and always with the cooperative model as its north, Rivera-Cardona is clear about where the profit comes from: Our marketing for these products is only by word of mouth, and people are flying here and doing rollovers in order to take advantage of this great offer," said Rivera-Cardona. The philosophy of a cooperative corporation such as COSVI is essential to the existence and purpose of the business, he explained: said Rivera-Cardona. "My philosophy in this crusade - to convince people that less than $30 per month is a small investment that will probably not equal the minimum that you would need to pay out of pocket for cancer treatment - is to exceed customer expectations, so that in turn I can make raving fans out of them." In discussing his vision for COSVI, Rivera-Cardona emphasizes the continued approach that has been positively transforming the corporation during his tenure: "What I want is service, education, sensitivity, and immediate processing when you have your claim. We have decreased the time it takes to process claims more than 50 percent in the last two years," said Rivera-Cardona. I'm happy but still dissatisfied, because there is still a lot more to accomplish, but I am happy that they see the change," continued Rivera-Cardona. The majority of them are university trained, some with advanced degrees," said Rivera-Cardona. Speaking about the growth rate of COSVI, Rivera-Cardona was straightforward about the fact that he made some big decisions when he took over as president two years ago, and these decisions have affected the growth rate of the corporation: "When I started at COSVI, the growth rate was at 20 to 30 percent, but the health insurance department of the business was unhealthy. When I got rid of it, the growth rate went down globally, but in terms of life and supplementary products, the growth was around 10 to 20 percent," said Rivera-Cardona. "Overall, we are third in the market in life and supplementary insurance products. By segment, we are the first in credit life, and third in terms of life insurance," he continued. When asked about the overall successes of COSVI as a major cooperative entity in Puerto Rico, his management style and about the investment in the corporate headquarters building, Rivera-Cardona was quick to answer: We have initiatives with the schools, such as the Murales project, a painting contest, and we also have a golf tournament, together with other cooperatives, and donate all the proceeds to an entity, such as Niños Nueva Esperanza, last year's selected non-profit organization," said Rivera-Cardona. Rivera-Cardona remarked about this hard-working executive. Raymond comments: "My job is to manage these areas, so that Ricardo can do his job well, which is to focus on the insurance business. Every day, I ask myself: 'How can I do my job better, so that Ricardo can concentrate on the business?' I need to be readily available, because, for instance, if the computer system goes down, I need to be immediately available to resolve that.