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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 5th November 2021

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Insurance News

The insurance industry is said to lag in the era of digitalisation. Insurers were told to ramp up digital efforts in order to meet rising demand during the pandemic – and it turns out this was the push they needed to break free from traditional broker-based insurance. The digital insurance landscape had an estimated worth of US$102.2 billion at the end of 2020. By 2026, it is projected to blow up to US$169.2 billion (approx. £125.80 billion).

The last week has seen a flurry of Insurers and Brokers alike sharing their trading results for the three months ended 30 September 2021, and now it’s the turn of the global insurance company Beazley. The business has revealed that its gross written premiums (GWP) for the period increased by 29% to $3,271 million (approx. £2431.84 million), up from $2,534 million in Q3 2020.

Bermuda-headquartered Watford Re, which came under the ownership of Arch Capital Group and funds managed by Kelso & Company and Warburg Pincus in July, has shed its old identity. The acquired business is now known as Somers Re, while parent Watford Holdings was also renamed Somers Group Holdings, as a nod to Bermuda Founder Sir George Somers. According to Arch, the rebrand is part of a “strategic repositioning” for the reinsurer.

Jonathan Miller, UK Sales Director for Partners& has been appointed the Chair of the volunteer advisory board for Working Options in Education – a charity organisation which helps young people with employability and life skills. Miller is already a volunteer with three other charity organisations: KidsOut, Birmingham Food Council and the BPFS Black Leaders Network.

American International Group (AIG)has reported its third quarter (Q3) 2021 results, with net income attributable to AIG common shareholders of US$1.7 billion (approx. £1.26 billion), a significant increased from the US$281 million (approx. £208 million) collected in the prior year quarter.

Liberty Mutual has announced its third quarter (Q3) 2021 financial results, reporting net income for the quarter of US$721 million (approx. £534.37 million), up 81.6% from the prior year, despite an elevated level of catastrophe losses. For the nine months ended September 30, 2021, the group’s net income was US$2.346 billion, an increase of US$1.750 billion over the same period last year. 

Avid Insurance Services, which is a Managing General Agent, has launched which it described as the first A-rated GAP insurance product into the retail auto market. Steve Duxbury, Head of Ancillary Motor at Avid, said the product is a “big vote of confidence” in UK Gap. The Avid GAP product, which has received approval from Lloyd’s, will be offered to customers initially through three online retailers, a sales channel that Duxbury said has grown considerably in recent years, after FCA created a four-day deferral period which has enabled customers to shop around rather than have to buy it from a car dealer.

Hastings Group has reported further profits for the nine months ended 30 September 2021, with the company’s profit before tax reaching £103m, up from £76m in Q2 2021. The provider revealed that its customer retention rates continue to be strong and “above market average”.

The insurance industry’s well-established festival for diversity and inclusion, Dive In, reached its largest ever global audience this year, with attendees from over 103 countries. Focused on the theme of Active Allyship, the festival attracted over 31,000 participants, who heard from more than 500 inspirational speakers on topics ranging from mental health to neurodiversity.

“The UK will go further and become the first-ever ‘net zero-aligned financial centre’.” That was the pronouncement made by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in his speech at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. In his address, Sunak pointed to the plan to ‘rewire’ the global financial system for net zero, with the UK leading the charge.

WF Risk Group has announced the bringing together of its wholesale and Managing General Agent (MGA) propositions. Within the WF Risk Group, Brokers will have access to solutions from both Generation Underwriting and Arden Wholesale, to help assist them in the current challenging market.

From economic and humanitarian standpoints alike, a larger percentage of natural-catastrophe risks should be borne by Insurers, Munich Resaid in a statement following an IPCC report last August. The flooding in Central Europe last July, had an estimated loss of €46 billion (about £39.01 billion), making it the most expensive natural catastrophe in modern European history. Of these losses, over €9 billion were insured.

Bermuda-headquartered Lancashire Holdings Limited has issued its trading statement for the nine months ended September 30 and things are looking good for the specialty (re)insurance provider. According to Lancashire, its gross written premium (GWP) for the period rose 46.9% to US$967.7 million. Of the total, US$503.4 million came from Property and Casualty (P&C) reinsurance; US$158.4 million, P&C insurance; and US$145.2 million from Energy.

Property & Casualty Underwriter Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. has turned things around, reporting a profit in the third quarter after suffering a loss in the same period last year. According to the Bermuda-headquartered insurance group, its net income attributable to common shareholders amounted to US$19.8 million (about CA$24.57 million) in Q3 – a major leap from the US$25.1 million attributable net loss posted in 2020.

Admiral– one of the largest auto insurers in the UK – will be using Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) data in its pricing and underwriting, thanks to a data and analytics solution developed by LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

At COP26 the Women in Finance Climate Action Group will share the conclusions of its report, on gender inequality in private climate finance. The report has been developed by the Women in Climate Action Group and has also drawn on research conducted by CARE International UK. The Group argues that whilst climate change impacts women across the world significantly, women remain seriously under-represented in climate policy, climate decision-making and climate finance. The Group calls for urgent action to improve gender equality when designing, delivering and accessing private climate finance such as addressing the disparity of senior female representation on climate issues and improving financial inclusion for women. The Women in Climate Action Group is chaired by Amanda Blanc, Group Chief Executive of Aviva, who is also HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter Champion appointed to spearhead efforts to boost gender diversity across the UK financial services sector. 

AXA extends its commitment to fight climate change and protect biodiversity. AXA announces several new milestones in its approach to the Energy sector by strengthening its existing Oil and Gas exclusions, with a specific focus on unconventional activities and new greenfield explorations.

In further news...Results season continues with the turn of French insurance giant AXA to share how it’s been doing so far in 2021. According to AXA, its gross revenues for the first nine months of the year grew to €76 billion (about £65.08 billion). 

AXA’s Board of Directors approved the launch of a share buy-back program for up to Euro 1.7 billion. “The share buy-back program reflects the strength of AXA’s balance sheet, and demonstrates the Group’s financial discipline. It is also a reflection of the confidence we have in our business profile, strategy and prospects”, said Thomas Buberl, Chief Executive Officer of AXA.

In the period to 30/9/21, Global Risk Partners (GRP) has continued to see significant growth. Run-rate EBITDA has climbed by 30% to £80m (2020: £61m) and run-rate income has risen by £34m to £197m (2020: £163M).

The Movo Partnership has terminated its relationship with Hedron, which is the network run by Global Risk Partners. Managing Director, Lea Cheesbrough, commented: “We wanted to step away from the connection to private equity. With all the M&A in the sector, we want ‘independence’ to still be a word in broking in five years’ time.”

Mergers & Acquisitions

HSB announced it is set to acquire the MD Group of companies, including its Managing General Agent, MD Insurance Services. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, will see HSB purchase the structural warranties specialist, along with the Guarantee and LABC Warranty brands.

Capita has agreed to sell its speciality insurance businesses to Marco Capital Holdings UKf or an undisclosed sum. The sale comprises two specialty insurance businesses, Capita Commercial Insurance Services (CCIS) and Capita Managing Agency (CMA). The deal is subject to regulatory approval and the senior management team and employees of CCIS and CMA will reportedly remain with the businesses as they transfer to Marco’s ownership.

Chester-based Daulby Read Insurance has celebrated its third acquisition within 12 months as it welcomes Hornby Snape Insurance Services into the family. The Chelford-based brokerage is firmly established in its local area and boasts a strong agricultural book of business. The purchase will see Daulby Read grow its overall GWP to circa £7m, up from £2.9m in early 2020.

The Ardonagh Group has announced that, further to the announcement on 26 May 2021, it has completed its $500 million acquisition of the insurance operations of BGC Partners inc. Besso Insurance, Ed Broking, and Piiq Risk Partners will join Bishopsgate, Compass London Markets, Inver Re and Price Forbes in the Ardonagh Specialty and Capital platform, creating the largest independent specialty Broker in the London market with offices across the globe.

Ripe Thinking Limited (Ripe), a UK-based digital underwriting and insurance distribution platform, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a definitive agreement for Aquiline Capital Partners LLC to acquire a majority stake in the company. Aquiline is a private investment firm based in New York and London with $6.9 billion in assets under management, specialising in investments at the intersection of technology and finance. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Movers & Shakers

Kelly Ogley has been promoted to CEO of A-Plan. Group CEO Cark Shuker confirmed that Ogley, who was formerly Chief Operating Officer, took the reins at the Personal Lines specialist this month.

RBIG Corporate Risk Services has recruited James Brown as Business Development Manager. Brown brings over a decade’s insurance experience to the Denton-headquartered commercial Insurer, which is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Chaucer has named Mike Smith, formerly Director at Willis Towers Watson, to head up its new Marine specialty division. Smith has over 35 years’ experience working within the Marine insurance industry, focusing on all aspects of Marine Cargo and Freight Liability insurance, from both a broking and claims management perspective, most recently with responsibility for servicing a portfolio of global Cargo accounts at Willis.

HB Underwriting has appointed Rachel Kelly to the newly created role of Partnerships Manager. According to the MGA, Kelly will be supporting the distribution of Rural Protect and Rural Protect Elements with HB Underwriting’s key Broker panel.

The Movo Partnership network (Movo)has named Julie Branto as Broker Liaison. Branton joins from RCHL Group, where she was Business Development Manager.

The Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA)has announced the appointment of Guy Dormer to the recently-created role of Head of Underwriting Strategy. Dormer joins from Starstone Insurance Group, where he served most recently as Group Head of Corporate Development. Prior to this, he was Corporate Development and Strategy Manager for Hiscox, leading all M&A and corporate development activities for the group. 

Bought By Many has appointed Adam Rostom as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Rostom makes the move from Babylon Health, where he had been CMO since 2018. 

Eoin Reynolds has been appointed as Prestige General Manager for Ireland and Executive Director at Prestige Underwriting Services Ireland Ltd. A former pupil of Trinity Business School, Eoin’s ambitious new role will be to facilitate growth in the Republic of Ireland for the various businesses within the Prestige Group of companies delivering specialist products and services in Broking, Underwriting and Insurtech.

Gallagher has appointed Derek Henry as Managing Director of Micro SME and Personal Lines within its UK retail division. The appointment is subject to regulatory approval. In his new role, Derek will head up Gallagher’s micro SME and Personal Lines offering. He will report into Gareth Birch, Managing Director of SME and Personal Lines. Derek has a wealth of insurance experience and was most recently Managing Director of broking at Brightside.

QBE has appointed Delphine Leroy as the new General Manager for France, subject to regulatory approval. Delphine joins from CNA Hardy where she was Head of Europe South, having also previously led CNA Hardy France.  She holds strong expertise across underwriting and distribution and in particular performance management, strategic change and delivery.

Somers Re has appointed former Chief Risk Officer Liz Cunningham as Somers Re CEO. She replaces Jon Levy, who served as Watford Re President and Chief Executive. Ex-controller Sioned Butler, meanwhile, has become Chief Financial Officer.

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