16 June, 2020 Colombia

PPU absorbs insurance boutique in Colombia

Banking, Finance and Capital Markets

Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría (Colombia) has launched an insurance practice after absorbing a local boutique, adding one counsel to the firm.

PPU announced the incorporation of Rebeca Herrera Abogados on 2 June, bringing one counsel and two associates to the firm’s Bogotá office.

Former partner of her own firm, Rebeca Herrera Díaz, 42, will lead PPU’s newly launched insurance practice, accompanied by associates John Jeider Morales, 30, and Gilma Paola Monroy, 27, who came along in the move.

Herrera focuses her insurance practice on regulatory matters as well as arbitrations related to the insurance and reinsurance sector. She continues to hold several other roles in the insurance and arbitration space, including working as an arbitrator for Colombia’s Centre of Arbitration and Conciliation (CAC), an independent watchdog at non-profit organisation Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá. She is also a member of the board of directors at the Colombian branches of insurance companies BMI Seguros and Zurich. Herrera also practises international trade law.

Herrera launched her former firm in 2013. Prior to that, she worked at British insurance group RSA managing the company’s portfolio of Colombian assets for two years, which followed on from her time as a legal director at Colombian insurance group Fasecolda between 2002 and 2010.

Leading the insurance practice at a firm with a widespread Latin American presence as PPU will be a new challenge and opportunity for Herrera. The role will allow her “to continue growing along with the support of a large, prestigious law firm, which has all the people, resources and values to make it possible,” she says. PPU has offices in Santiago and Lima alongside its Barranquilla and Bogotá bases in Colombia.

Herrera brings her existing portfolio of clients to the firm to kickstart the practice’s expansion. “The strategy I will implement to lead the practice is to focus on giving the most specialised advisory service to existing and new clients,” she explains. The new insurance head also hopes to utilise her academic background at the firm to enhance her teams’ professional and academic skillset, she says. Herrera has taught insurance law at Bogotá’s Universidad Pontifica Javeriana for over 13 years. In the new role, she intends to lead a full-service practice, offering advice on regulatory, contractual as well as dispute resolution matters within the insurance and reinsurance market.

PPU launched the practice during times of market uncertainty presented by the covid-19 pandemic. Curfews and restrictions on global movement were introduced across Latin America in March following the outbreak, adding to global fears of an incoming economic recession. Colombia introduced its nationwide lockdown on 17 March.

Colombia’s insurance market is not immune when it comes to the volatile impact of the crisis, says Herrera. Insurers are in a difficult position where they must juggle adjusting the usual solvency requirements with client relationships. Many businesses have been forced to cancel events and other activities, but there is no guarantee that the insurance policies bought by companies will cover the financial losses caused by the pandemic, says Herrera. 

“I foresee that major insurance litigation related to covid-19 in Colombia will be concentrated in the surety bonds market,” predicts Herrera, who adds that a number of companies are likely to default on debt obligations, which may lead to doubts over the security provided by this type of coverage.

PPU in Colombia, a Latin Lawyer Elite firm, is recognised for its solid M&A, project finance and antitrust teams and also has strong offerings in its banking and finance, mining and litigation departments. The firm bolstered its labour department in January by promoting a partner in its Bogotá office, alongside two partner promotions in Lima. More recently, PPU added firepower to its Chilean office hiring a new disputes head in Santiago.

Source: Latin Lawyer

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