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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 12th February 2021

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Personal Lines Broker Be Wiser Insurance has admitted that some jobs are set to go as it gears up for what it describes as a ‘business reorganisation programme.’ The Broker revealed that it has already started consultations with its 280 staff, which will result in some job losses. A full consultation process will begin shortly and last a month.

Zurich UK has announced a 73% drop in UK business operating profit which stood at £111 million as against £413 million in 2019, due to the impact of COVID-19. The Insurer reported that, excluding the pandemic’s effect, business performance showed an increase in underlying profitability and efficiency.

Bermuda-headquartered global (re)insurance provider Everest Re Group remained profitable in 2020, albeit at a lower level compared to the previous year. According to Everest, its full-year net income amounted to US$514.2 million (around £371.6 million). The figure is about half of the company’s 2019 net income, which stood at more than US$1 billion. Net operating income in the past year, meanwhile, was US$300.1 million. The corresponding metric in 2019 was higher, at US$872.4 million.

Global Insurer Arch Capital Group has released its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2020, and the numbers tell a contrasting tale for the company’s insurance and reinsurance operations. According to the Bermuda-headquartered group, its net income available to Arch common shareholders amounted to US$533.1 million (around £385 million) in Q4. The figure represents an increase from the US$316 million posted in the same period in 2019.

The Guernsey Financial Services Commission has approved Davies’s new captive management facility in the British crown dependency, bringing to life Davies Management Services (Guernsey).

Aviva has expanded its Broker apprenticeship programme, which aims to help Brokers select, recruit and train the next generation of insurance professionals. The Insurer is also offering a job swap or placement to programme participants, it said in a statement. Recruitment is open until July 31.

Riskbook has announced that it has rebranded to Supercede. The company has also launched what it said is the world’s first all-in-one reinsurance platform built for dealmakers. Supercede is a Lloyd’s-approved, data-centric global trading platform designed specifically for the reinsurance sector.

Results season continues with Lancashire Holdings Limited reporting on how it fared in the year ended December 31, 2020. The global specialty (re)insurance provider said its profit before tax amounted to US$5.9 million (around £4.3 million) – a steep fall from 2019’s US$119.5 million. Gross written premium in the year grew to US$814.1 million, but the group’s underwriting profit declined from US186.5 million previously to US$77 million this time around. Lancashire’s combined ratio in the past year stood at 107.8%.

Pen Underwriting has partnered with accident management specialist FMG to further support the Managing General Agent’s specialist Fleet clients in the hazardous goods and environmental industries by rolling out an improved claims management proposition.

Covéa Insurance has signed up to the Tech Talent Charter, a non-profit organisation that aims to drive inclusion and diversity of the tech workforce in the UK in a “practical and measurable way”.

Willis Towers Watson’s fourth quarter and full-year results are now out. Revenue came in at US$2.76 billion (£2 billion) for Q4 2020, compared to US$2.69 billion for the same period in the prior year, demonstrating an increase of 3%. Meanwhile, for the year ended December 31, 2020, total revenue was US$9.35 billion (£6.79 billion), a bump up of 3% from the US$9.04 billion reported for 2019.

BLM has introduced a new tool that can help insurance companies track the fines levied upon UK SMEs. The insurance risk law firm’s new D&O Tracker is free to use for Insurers, Brokers and corporates. It tracks fines from four major UK regulators, including the Serious Fraud Office, Financial Conduct Authority and the Information Commissioner’s Office. In addition, it also records compensation and legal costs orders, and the term of any custodial sentences against Directors.

Hannover Re and HDI parent firm Talanx Group is bucking the trend, as it releases positive preliminary numbers for the past financial year. In an update, Talanx said it generated “solid group net income” in 2020, based on unaudited consolidated figures. Despite COVID-19 claims expenses amounting to €1.5 billion, the insurance group managed to post a net income of €673 million (around £590 million) for what was a very challenging year. Operating profit, meanwhile, stood at €1.7 billion. 

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba)has once again called for a freeze to the unpopular Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) which affects all policyholders. Currently, the rate is 12% and it was last increased in 2017 causing outcry in the insurance space after an initial increase to 9.5% in Summer 2015 then another rise to 10% in 2016. In the April 2020 ‘coronavirus Budget’ the sector escaped further increases but with the economy in trouble due to the twin disasters of Brexit and Covid-19 some are predicting the government may seek to bolster its coffers with a further IPT increase.

Global Insurer MAPFRE posted an operating result of €658 million (about £578 million) in 2020. The company said it was “highly affected” by the COVID-19 pandemic in the first six months of the year, but produced a solid result in the second half, when it generated €388 million.

UK-headquartered global specialty (re)insurer Brit Limited has found itself in the red. Releasing its unaudited full-year results for the year ended December 31 this morning, the insurance group said it posted a US$232 million (around £168 million) loss after tax in 2020. The figure represents a nosedive from the US$179.9 million profit after tax enjoyed by Brit in 2019.

Results season continues with Netherlands-headquartered insurance group Aegon publishing its interim numbers for the second half of 2020.The company – whose core markets are the US, the Netherlands, and the UK, supported by growth markets Spain & Portugal, China, and Brazil – reported a net loss worth €147 million (around £129 million) for the period. The figure represents a massive dive from the €908 million net income posted in 2019’s second half.

Irish pubs have reason to drink to their own health after securing a High Court victory. Ireland’s High Court ruled that four publicans insured byFBDwere entitled to coverage for losses for claims linked to COVID-19 lockdowns. The case could have implications for more than 1,000 similar contracts.

Arch Capital Group’s Ireland-based subsidiary Arch Financial Holdings Europe IV Limited has completed its acquisition of a 29.5% shareholding in credit Insurer Coface. The stake, which represents 44.8 million Coface shares at €9.95 apiece, was snapped up from Natixis. The French multinational financial services firm became Coface’s main shareholder in 2002.

Bristol-based trade credit specialist The Channel Partnership has been acquired by insurance intermediary Specialist Risk Group (SRG)– the latter’s third swoop under new majority shareholder HGGC.

The proposed mega-merger between broking giants Aon and Willis Towers Watson appears to have hit something of a snag as EU anti-trust regulators have suspended their investigation into the deal. The regulators are waiting for the US insurance Broker to provide data required for the case.

TheJensten Group (Jensten)has announced its purchase of Yorkshire-based specialist mid-market commercial Broker Sydney Packett & Sons (Packetts) for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is the next step in Jensten’s buy and build growth strategy which focuses on expanding its specialist capabilities.

Chubb has announced two new leadership appointments in its reinsurance team at Chubb Overseas General (COG), the company’s international general reinsurance business. Chubb’s ceded reinsurance business will now be co-led by Sunil Parmar and Alexander Crosby, who have been jointly promoted to the role of Vice President and Senior Reinsurance Officer for COG.

In further news...Chubb has announced the creation of a new energy team in Chubb Global Markets (CGM) that will underwrite and serve as a centre of excellence for all large corporate energy customers in EMEA, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America. The new team will be based in London and led by Andrew Brown, the newly appointed Head of Energy for CGM. He will be joined by the following product leads: Melanie Markwick-Day - Head of Upstream Energy, Adam Groves- Head of Downstream Energy, Riaz Thanduparakkal - Head of Multinational and Network and Matthew Bilbey, Chief Underwriting Officer.

Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM), part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, has announced the appointment of Terry FitzGerald as divisional Head of Financial and Professional Lines (FinPro). He will be based in LSM’s London office and will report to Melanie O’Neill, Chief Underwriting Officer, commercial.

Medical Professional Liability insurance provider Coverys has named retiring Chief Executive and President Gregg Hanson’s replacement. Succeeding Hanson on April 01 is Chief Operating OfficerJoseph Murphy, who came onboard in 2015 as COO and has since played a pivotal role in executing the Boston-headquartered company’s long-term strategic plan.

Paul Shamplina, known as “the landlord’s friend,” has a new role at insurance brokerage Hamilton Fraser. “Very pleased to announce that I have accepted the new position of Chief Commercial Officer on the board of Hamilton Fraser,” posted Shamplina, who has been with the business since December 2016, on LinkedIn.

Scott Kirk is succeeding Jay Bullock as Chief Financial Officer of Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. In a release, the specialty insurance Underwriter said Kirk will assume the CFO post on March 01. His predecessor’s planned departure from Argo, at the time pending the appointment of a replacement, was announced last year.

McLarens has hired Nigel Collins as Technical Lead for its Cyber & technology business in the UK and Ireland. Collins is known within the industry as an expert in handling Cyber and technology losses, according to a statement by McLarens.

North P&I Club has announced the election of James Alexander Tyrrell as Chair of its board. Tyrrell will succeed Pratap Shirke in a transition that also sees Ioanna Procopiou take the reins as the club’s first female Vice Chair.

Pen Underwriting (Pen)has appointed Dan Walker and Andy Helliwell as new Business Development Managers (BDMs) to enhance its regional support for Brokers. Walker will serve as the BDM for the North West, a newly-created role to provide focused support for Brokers in the region due to significant growth opportunities. He joins from RSA in Manchester, having previously worked for Allianz in a business development role. Meanwhile, Helliwell will be the BDM for the Midlands to further enhance the broker support dedicated to the region. Before joining Pen, he served as a Senior BDM at Broker Insights bringing 20 years of industry experience and having held various senior roles across sales and broking.

Howden has appointed Andrew Harrison-Sleap as its new Executive Director and Global Deputy Head of Construction as it continues to build out its Construction practice.

All information provided in this Market Digest has been gathered from multiple General Insurance Media sources and individual company press releases.