Fulfilling Corporate Social Responsibilities through Our Insurance Business
To protect customers from cancer
To fulfill the Corporate Social Responsibilities through core business, employees of Tokio Marine & Nichido Life Insurance Co., Ltd. ("TMN Life",) a primary company in the Tokio Marine Group's life insurance operations, are all working on the "campaign for protecting customers from cancer."
Today, we are here with Mr. Akira Nishikawa from the Marketing Promotion and Planning Dept. to ask what efforts the Company is making to support their customers.
- QYour Company has been engaged in the "campaign for protecting customers from cancer" since September 2007. Could you tell us why it launched this campaign?
Cancer has been the leading cause of death in Japan since 1981 and accounts for as much as 30% of all deaths among in Japan these days. The number of deaths from cancer is approx. 330,000 every year. Prevalence of cancer is also on the rise - some statistic says that one out of every two men or three women suffers from cancer during his/her lifetime. Cancer is becoming more and more serious problem as one of the social issues.
In 2001, TMN Life launched an insurance product named "Cancer Insurance," which offers economic support to customers by paying claims and benefits when they are diagnosed with cancer. With the diversified treatment for cancer, however, needs from customers have also become diversified. Such changing customers' needs made us wonder "how much our Cancer Insurance product helps cancer patients who stand up to and fight their diseases and their family members who struggle to support them." --With this in mind, we once again carefully pursued what our customers really need and what we can do for them.
As a first step of this initiative, we released a new product "Cancer Treatment Support Insurance" which provides comprehensive support necessary for cancer treatment in September 2007. Around the same time, we embarked on the "Campaign for Protecting Customers from Cancer." We consider protecting customers from cancer to be a social mission that we should carry out. This campaign is therefore intended to support customers through every effort to eliminate any worries that customers may have in terms of cancer, such as giving advices on cancer prevention, encouraging them to undergo cancer screening and providing mental support to cancer patients under treatment, all of which exceed the insurer's traditional role of making claims payment. The Company is now vigorously engaged in this campaign.
- QCould you be more specific about the campaign?
"Campaign for protecting customers from cancer" consists mainly of three steps: "acquiring knowledge on cancer," "providing cancer information to customers" and "contributing to promotion of cancer control."
- Learning about cancer
- The first step of this campaign is that employees of the Company acquire a variety of knowledge and information regarding cancer such as the kinds of the disease, preventive method and screening and typical worries that cancer patients and their family members may have. We also encourage our agent staff to fully and correctly understand the disease by acquiring the said knowledge. To deepen our understanding about cancer as much as possible, we have workshops and informal meetings to hear the voice of experience on an ongoing basis.
- Spreading the Message about cancer
- Next step is spreading customers with correct and detailed information about cancer. Although people are fully aware of cancer as a serious disease, many of them have little knowledge about cancer prevention, significance of early detection and cancer screening and modern medical advances. Therefore, as part of our daily business activities, we work on raising customers' awareness of cancer through various approaches such as brochures and leaflets carrying the information on cancer and lectures.
- Useful countermeasures against cancer
- For contributing to promotion of countermeasures against cancer, final step is to provide customers with comprehensive solutions, ranging from support for cancer prevention and early detection to economic and mental support to treatment and aftercare. More specifically, those solutions include "Special Benefit Service for Complete Medical Checkup and PET Examination" which is offered to customers for their health management and early detection of cancer, "Home-visit Cancer Consultation Service," where qualified counselors visit and listen to the worries and anxieties of customers who have been diagnosed with cancer and "Medical Assist: Special Help Line for Cancer," where doctors with large experience including professors and associate professors at university hospitals and social workers offer telephone counseling on cancer-related worries and anxieties. Through those means, the Company has established a comprehensive support system that helps cancer patients under treatment in all aspects through providing not only economic support of claims payment but also mental health support. We are determined to continue to support our customers by enhancing those means, including our products.
Our next interview is with Mr. Yoshio Mizukai, Manager of TMN Life's Yamanashi Sub-branch, which is aggressively involved in the campaign for protecting customers from cancer.
- QWhat do you think about the "campaign for protecting customers from cancer"?
The 1980's when I joined the Company was a time of "the Second Traffic War." Traffic death toll exceeded 10,000 in 1988 and the government was making all-out efforts toward reducing the number of traffic deaths. I was in charge of promoting sales of non-life insurance at the time and insurers were required to provide CALI and other auto insurance for more people in a socially responsible way.
At present, however, the number of deaths from cancer has been growing annually, reaching approx. 330,000 in 2006, thirty six times more than the traffic deaths. Cancer is now regarded as a social issue. The "campaign for protecting customers from cancer" is based on the philosophy of helping customers in all aspects, ranging from cancer prevention and treatment to aftercare. I've found a social responsibility in this philosophy. Personally, I lost my uncle who I respected and wanted to be like to cancer. When I was in a high school, I lost my best friend to blood cancer. Those my personal experiences also make me feel my involvement in this campaign to be very significant.
- QAs part of the campaign for protecting customers from cancer, you are aggressively engaged in "cancer information exchanges." Could you elaborate this approach, including what inspired you to begin it?
The first thing we must do to help customers is to acquire correct knowledge on cancer. We spend much time of the weekly sub-branch meeting exchanging information about cancer. More specifically, members of the meeting, who voluntarily study cancer, present the information and knowledge that they have obtained through the books and the Internet at the meeting. While further raising their own awareness of cancer, they all continue their efforts to voluntarily find out cancer-related information, no matter how trivial it is.
The more we study about cancer, the more we realize how much we didn't know cancer itself and cancer-related matters such as mental distress that cancer patients and their family members suffer. At the same time, however, I felt greatly encouraged by the behavior of some member at sub-branch; he voluntarily participated in a seminar hosted by cancer patients on holiday and presented what he learned from the seminar to all of us.
Like this, "cancer information exchange meeting" is not just an opportunity for us to acquire knowledge and information on cancer, but also to raise our awareness and motivation.
- QPartnership between your Company and agents are becoming closer through the seminar on cancer for customers. What are you particularly taking care of?
Our agents play a significant role of providing customers with cancer-related knowledge and information that we have accumulated. Therefore, our Company and agents are working together for raising our awareness of this campaign and acquiring knowledge on cancer through various information sources. It is, of course, important to inform customers of the products and services of cancer cure support insurance. At the same time, however, we put special emphasis on delivering the philosophy of this campaign to customers. As part of this effort, we, in cooperation with our agents, give regular seminars for customers where we invite doctors and experts to speak on medical-related issues such as the modern medical advances.
Cancer could happen to any of us. It is therefore very important to provide correct and detailed information on cancer to customers. We ask our agents to ensure that they first provide all of their customers with information about preventive measures against cancer, significance of early detection and regular medical check-up and also help them to understand it, before explaining about insurance for cancer.
Responding to our request, increasing number of our agents makes efforts to aggressively provide customers with cancer-related information: for example, they have cancer-related books and information magazines in their shops. Some customer, who underwent cancer screenings on the advice of our agent, was helped thanks to early detection of his cancer and we were really appreciated by him.
- QCould you tell us what you learned from your involvement with this campaign at Yamanashi Sub-branch?
This campaign has made me realize many things. Unlike other diseases, cancer forces not only cancer patients but also their family members to stand up to and live with it until they are cured after being diagnosed. In order to help those people have enough courage to fight the disease, we endeavor to provide them with every solution to their economic and mental problems through our cancer insurance and various services, and we have rediscovered those efforts as our mission. Most people are in general aware that cancer is a serious disease, but few people know details of cancer itself, cancer prevention and treatment. Japan, which has low rate of cancer screenings, has been stepping up national efforts to promote cancer control through various measures since April 2007 when the Cancer Control Act went into effect. I believe that we can fulfill our social responsibility as cancer information provider by helping as many people as possible raise their awareness of cancer through our campaign.