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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 9th April 2021

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Insurance News

Ecclesiastical Insurance has retained its top spot on the Fairer Finance Home Insurance league table as the UK’s most trusted home insurance Provider – a distinction it has managed to hold for 13 straight years.

Following a £10 million deal in 2017,Avivaand the trustees of the Association of British Insurers (ABI)Pension & Assurance Scheme have now completed a second transaction. Wrapped up this time around is a £26 million bulk purchase annuity buy-in.

The Post Office has won top honours as a travel and life insurance Provider for 2021. The Insurer was recognized during this year’s awards event, bagging the “Best Travel Insurance Provider” and “Best Life Insurance Provider” awards.

Saga Plc has announced its preliminary financial results for the full year ended January 31, 2021, and it looks like the glass is either half empty or half full depending on how you view the numbers. Saga, which unveiled a strategic turnaround plan in September 2020 and is relaunching its brand later this year, posted a £61.2 million pre-tax loss in the period – a massive improvement from the £300.9 million loss before tax suffered by the company in the 12 months ended January 31, 2020. The latest loss, according to Saga, reflects the £59.8 million impairment of travel goodwill in the first half. Underlying profit before tax, meanwhile, stood at £17.1 million this time around. The corresponding amount in the previous year was higher, at £109.9 million. 

Claims Director of the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA)Lee Elliston has been named to the board of the Society of Claims Professionals (SOCP).

Birmingham-based independent insurance Broker Ernest R Shaw is the latest to come onboard Cobra Network as a member. The network, which is part of PIB Group, has been on a roll – recently announcing the arrival of new members such as Mid Cornwall Brokers and Kent brokerage Principals.

In other news...It looks like PIB Group’s Cobra Network is busy beefing up its membership roster. The latest to join as members are Birmingham-based taxi and courier insurance specialist Supernova Brokers and Lewes business LBS Commercial Insurance Brokers. The latter caters to industrial, commercial, and personal clients.

Premium Choice is launching its new telematics proposition called Aura Insurance. The Broker has entered into a contract with ThingCo, which will supply customers who signed up for Aura Insurance with Theo – a solar-powered, voice-enabled telematics device that is installed on the windscreen of the car.

Reinsurers will likely bear most of the expense for the grounding of a giant container ship that halted shipping traffic through the Suez Canal last month. Payouts are expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. International shipping through the canal ground to a halt when the 400-metre Ever Given ran aground and blocked the canal March 23. It took nearly a week for rescue teams to free the vessel.

UK mutual Scottish Friendly, “with great sadness,” has announced the passing of Chief Executive Jim Galbraith. Details of the CEO’s death are scant, but not the kind words from those he left behind.

The Motor insurance industry is pointing towards a usage-based future, according to research from insurtech firm By Bits. According to the study, 91% of Insurers polled regard the emergence of usage-based insurance as a positive change for the industry.

M&A News

It’s a baker’s dozen for Ethos Broking, which has taken its tally of regional hubs up to 13 with a swoop for London’s Chambers and Newman. The acquired brokerage, which is approaching its 75-year diamond jubilee, gives Ethos a foothold in London as it continues to expand across the UK. The firm, which handles more than £20 million GWP and focuses on commercial lines, will continue to be led by Managing Director Alan Smith.

Last November, Dutch Insurer Aegon announced the sale of its insurance, Pension, and Asset Management businesses in Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Turkey to Vienna Insurance Group AG (VIG). Now the deal has hit a snag in one market. In a release, the buyer said it received a decree from the Hungarian Ministry of Interior informing VIG that the intended acquisition by a foreign investor of the Aegon companies in Hungary had been denied. No further details were outlined by VIG.

The US$3.94 billion (around £2.86 billion) sale of MetLife’s Property and Casualty business in the US has been finalised. Announced last December, the now completed transaction saw the Farmers Exchanges pay US$1.51 billion while US$2.43 billion came from Zurich Insurance Group’s wholly owned subsidiary Farmers Group, Inc. (FGI).

The rapid expansion of Aston Lark is continuing at pace, with the company announcing a swoop forDNA Insurance Services Ltd. Motor Trade specialist DNA was established back in 2003 and boasts offices in both Romford and Southampton, with more than 10,000 customers. 

Brokerage giant Gallagher is hoping for smooth waters ahead after acquiring Oslo-based Marine and Energy Broker Parisco AS. The Broker, which is led by CEO Dag Magne Torjussen and has a team of 10, is known for serving contractors, as well as exploration and production companies, service vessels, passenger vessels and renewable energy clients. It will now join forces with Gallagher’s existing specialist Marine Broker in Norway, Bergvall Marine, under the direction of Managing Director Anders Mjaaland.

Aviva Plc, which has spent the past eight months offloading the Insurer’s non-core businesses, is now just waiting for all the deals to cross the finish line. The latest to do is the group’s sale of its entire 80% shareholding in Italian life insurance joint venture Aviva Vita S.p.A.

PIB Group Ltd has acquired Enniscorthy-based insurance Broker Creane & Creane Ltd– the intermediary group’s first retail broking swoop in Ireland. Formed by the late William Creane in 1945, the snapped up 30-strong family-run business is among Ireland’s longest established brokerages. 

Cream Financial Solutions has bought Bounce Life’s insurtech platform for an undisclosed seven-figure sum. The acquisition includes Bromley-headquartered Bounce Life’s branding, referral and sales process, Intellectual Property assets, a 30,000+ client base and codes to Bounce’s referral marketing algorithms, the company’s statement said.

The rapid expansion of UK brokerage giant Ardonagh shows no signs of slowing down after the firm sealed the acquisition of US-based medical stop loss Managing General Underwriter AccuRisk Solutions LLC. Upon announcing the acquisition, the brokerage confirmed it is establishing Ardonagh Global Partners (AGP) – which is setting its sights on investing in “leading platforms operating in attractive markets and product verticals outside of the UK and Europe.” It believes the group will be a “partner of choice” for management teams.

Multi-brand Personal Lines insurance Broker Atlanta Group has announced its acquisition of telematics Broker Marmalade. Marmalade, which was founded 15 years ago, specialises in policies for drivers aged under 34 and focuses on finding innovative solutions to help parents looking to get their younger drivers on the road. The Broker writes around 12,500 short term and annual policies a month.

Jensten Group’s Coversure, which provides insurance service through more than 90 independently franchised broking businesses in the UK, has unveiled a new Owner for the Maidstone office. “We’re delighted to announce that Coversure Poole’s Founder and Owner of Coversure Weymouth, John Palmer, is extending his operations into Kent,” said Coversure in a release, noting that Palmer opened his first Coversure office in Poole in 2015 before acquiring Coversure Weymouth three years later.

Movers & Shakers

Global Risk Partners (GRP)has hired Steve Anson as Chief Operating Officer. Anson will sit on the executive committee and report to Mike Bruce, Group CEO. According to Bruce, Anson will oversee business transformation, including the integration of the group businesses, and deliver a consistent, digital and data-enabled target operating model. These, he said, are both critical to achieving the group’s ambitious growth strategy.

AXA XL has appointed Sundeep Khera as Head of Marine, UK & Lloyd’s market, effective July 01, and Global Head of Hull, effective immediately. 

Owen Digman has moved up at HDI Global SE – UK and Ireland, from Liability Manager to Director of Liability Underwriting.

Specialty insurance company Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings (R&Q)has announced that Co-Founder Ken Randall has retired as Executive Chairman. William Spiegel succeeds Randall in the role. Randall has also stepped down as a Director of the company.

Guy Carpenter & Company has appointed Sebastian Cook as Managing Director and Head of London Europe, effective immediately.

Sompo International Holdings has announced that Maxine Goddard has joined its international insurance strategic distribution and development team as Senior VP. Goddard joins from Zurich Insurance, where she spent 20 years most recently as Director, Senior Commercial Operational Business Partner.

Independent specialist insurance and reinsurance Broker BMS has announced the appointment of Bruce Murdock as Managing Director at BMS Capital Advisory. Murdock will report to Romulo Braga, CEO of BMS Capital Advisory.

Former Chief Underwriting Officer Adrian Cox is now the man in charge at Beazley Plc, having assumed the Chief Executive post on April 01, and the specialist Insurer has disclosed how much it is paying the new boss. “Adrian’s base salary on appointment is set at £507,500, in line with Andrew Horton’s current salary,” said the UK-headquartered insurance group in a London Stock Exchange filing. “His Pension benefit is unchanged at 12.5% of salary, in line with the Pension opportunity available to the workforce. “His maximum bonus opportunity for 2021 is unchanged at 400% of salary. Adrian’s maximum LTIP (long-term incentive plan) opportunity for 2021 is set at 200% of salary, in line with the policy for the CEO.”.

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