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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 28th January 2022

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Get your wallets open because UK insurance companyFirst Central Group Ltd (First Central)is considering a sale totalling around £600 million ($800 million), according to people with knowledge of the matter. First Central was founded in 2008 to restore and maintain trust in the financial services sector through data and technology following the rise in popularity of price comparison websites by reducing risk and delivering high-quality products. Now with 1,000 employees, it underwrites Car insurance under the Skyfire brand and owns insurance brokerage 1st Central. First Central has teamed up with Evercore Inc., a global independent investment banking advisory firm, as it gradually catches the attention of potential buyers, most likely Private Equity firms. Deliberations are ongoing, but it is still uncertain if they will lead to a transaction. However, sources expect the group to begin the sales process as soon as the second quarter of 2022.

In another case of declined Business Interruption claims, international law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper has sent a “letter before action” to rural InsurerNFU Mutualon behalf of several farm businesses. In the letter seen by Farmers Weekly, Penningtons Manches Cooper claimed NFU Mutual has breached contracts for refusing to pay out on Business Interruption insurance.

AXA XL Risk Consultingis launching a new environmental risk assessment tool for its clients in Europe and the UK. The new solution helps companies identify and mitigate pollution and environmental risks. According to AXA XL, the solution combines the expertise of the company’s Risk Consultants, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence applications to turn environmental and climatological data into actionable insights.

Gallagherwill rebrand its Switzerland-based businessesHesse & ParterandVerbagfrom January 31 onwards. In 2018, Gallagher expanded its specialty broking capabilities when it purchased a 65% stake in Hesse & Partner before fully acquiring the remainder of the Swiss insurance Broker in 2021. The final act of rebranding will complete the integration of the firm into Gallagher.

InBeazley’snewly-launched ‘Spotlight on business risks’ report, the Insurer highlights that business leaders believe they are more resilient as we move into 2022, but 34% still place business risks as their top concern for the year. According to the report, most organisations have leveraged the pandemic to improve operations from the ground, which led 84% of business leaders to believe they will be more resilient in 2022.

TheBritish Insurance Brokers’ Associationpicked the theme ‘managing risk’ for its 2022 manifesto which takes in a number of key issues including the hard market, IPT and regulation. The manifesto was launched in Westminster to an audience of ministers, MPs, senior Government officials, insurance professionals and the media on 25 January 2022.

Complete Cover Group (CCG)has confirmed potential job cuts as part of a review of the business. A spokesperson for CCG said: “The wider Group is progressing well, however, we are reviewing our approach to one small element of the Group in line with wider market changes. “This has the potential to sadly result in some job losses in CCG.”

Insurance BrokerNW Risk Solutions (NWRS)has launched with the aim of providing bespoke solutions to clients including large AIM listed firms, boutique businesses and private clients. NWRS is an appointed representative of James Hallam and the Broker detailed that it will be able to access specialist insurance products via Lloyds of London and a range of insurance companies and Managing General Agents.

TheHouse of Lords IndustryandRegulators Committeekicked off its investigation which focuses on the commercial insurance and reinsurance market on 14 January. The Committee will explore whether regulatory policy is well-designed and proportionately applied and the possibilities for improving regulation following Brexit. The inquiry, which began on the 25th January 2022 considered the roles of the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority and assess the effect of regulation on customers and the market’s global competitiveness.

In its 150th year, insurance giantMarsh McLennan (Marsh)remained resilient despite the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting 10% underlying revenue growth and 24% adjusted EPS growth for the financial year ended December 31, 2021 (FY21) – both the highest in more than two decades. Specifically, the company’s revenue hit US$19.8 billion for 2021, a 15% increase compared with the figure in 2020, or 10% on an underlying basis.

NFU Mutualhas agreed to a multi-year deal withGT Motive, allowing it to utilise the latter’s GT Global cloud-based estimating platform. GT Global provides estimating solutions for Insurers, Repairers, and Accident Management businesses. It can be accessed on most devices, including mobile phones and has been designed with simple APIs to allow flexibility and easy collaboration among users.

When commenting on the Q4 2021 and full-year 2021 results reported byAXIS Capital, President and CEO Albert Benchimol said the global Insurer is “excited for the future”. Among the key figures published by the group, AXIS revealed that Q4 saw its gross premiums written increase by $214 million (up 16%) to $1.6 billion – up $211 million (or 19%) in the insurance segment, and $4 million (or 1%) in the reinsurance segment.

Personal Group Holdings Plc (PGH), an Employee Benefits and services provider, has announced that its overall trading for the financial year ending December 31, 2021 (FY21) aligned with its market expectations despite the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a Press release, PGH revealed revenue of approximately £75 million (2020: £72 million) and adjusted EBITDA of about £6 million (2020: £10 million) for FY21. During the same period, the group saw a robust balance sheet with a cash position in excess of £22 million (2020: £20.2 million).

Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI)has set up a new unit focused on impact investing in private markets in an effort to create a sustainable investing drive. With £647 billion in assets, AllianzGI is looking into private companies that are interested in solving environmental or social issues in a measurable way, it said in a statement.

Owners of dogs and cats over two months old can now avail ofCo-op Insurance’snew Pet insurance, on top of the Car, Home, Travel, and Life policies they already offer - and it has none other than reality television star and rescue-dog owner Pete Wicks to spread the good news. Over 3.2 million households in the UK have got a pet since the start of the pandemic, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association. However, YouGov revealed 12% of them have come to regret the decision and considered leaving the unwanted pet at a rescue centre. That has become the sad reality for 160,000 pets who have been given up since 2020.

WTWandThatcham Researchhave partnered to combine their data and analytical capabilities to better understand the impact of increasingly advanced vehicle technologies on claims risk. Due to huge transformations in vehicle technology, even mass-market family hatchbacks feature technologies such as advanced driver assistance systems, expensive headlights, and keyless and connectivity systems, WTW said. Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have also risen substantially. According to WTW, these changes add a new level of complexity for insurers, creating pressure to have a more sophisticated picture of claims data relating to the many varying features of new vehicle models.

In a move designed to help Brokers take advantage of some of the most powerful data available to the insurance market today,Open GIhas become the first major software house to offer access to Broker Intelligence fromLexisNexis® Risk Solutions, the data enrichment solution designed specifically for small to medium Brokers. The point of quote enrichment solution from LexisNexis Risk Solutions has been created to make data enrichment faster and easier for Brokers, with access to specially selected attributes that will be of most value to their business.

Pen Underwriting has announced two long-term UK capacity deals with QBE in the highly specialist areas of public authority and higher education risks, as well as hazardous goods, environmental industries and tanker transportation. The renewed agreements build on strategic partnerships of consistent capacity provision that date back 10 and 20 years respectively.

Mergers & Acquisitions

PIB Grouphas bought insurance broking and financial planning firmAlan Tierney & Partnersbased in Ireland. The move is PIB’s fifth deal in Ireland and follows its purchases of Brokers Campion, Creane & Creane and Oliver Murphy last year. In 2019, it purchased Irish Managing General Agent Optis Insurance. Brendan McManus, PIB Chief Executive Officer, commented: “What a great way to start the new year by giving a very warm welcome for everyone at Alan Tierney & Partners to PIB Group!"

Movers & Shakers

Following the announcement of David Croom-Johnson’s retirement,AEGIS Londonhas made another key promotion withMatthew Yeldhamas its new Chief Underwriting Officer. Yeldham is anything but new to the role, having acted as the deputy CUO since 2015. Prior to joining AEGIS London as a Head of Casualty in 2010, Yeldham held senior positions at Aspen Insurance Group and Wellington Underwriting. Now, he is set to succeed Alex Powell, who will take Croom-Johnson’s place as CEO when he retires in June.

Insurance United Against Dementia (IUAD), has appointedRichard Dudley, Global Head of Climate Strategy at Aon, as its new Chair. IUAD is a fundraising and awareness raising campaign led by Alzheimer’s Society and leaders from the insurance sector. Dudley, who is a founding member of the IUAD board, will lead the next stage of the campaign, with a goal of raising £10 million. He succeeds Chris Wallace, Executive Director for continental Europe and UK at QBE, who has led the campaign since it launched in 2017.

Willis Towers Watsonhas appointedLou Smithin the company’s insurance consulting and technology business. Smith will lead the unit’s commercial lines data strategy and accelerate its digital trading capability. Smith most recently served as the first Chief Digital Officer at Lloyd’s of London, where she was responsible for shaping and delivering the organisation’s digital future and strategy for a data-enabled, digital insurance marketplace.

In further news...WTWhas announced the appointment ofJulie Bakeras Lead Relationship Management for the Banking sector. At Marsh for over 20 years, Ms Baker designed and managed bespoke Financial Lines programmes for a broad spectrum of financial services clients within the FINPRO division.

Aonhas namedKaty WhelanandCharles Stewartto its operations leadership team in the UK. Whelan joined as the London Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Stewart is set to in early April 2022 as the Head of Strategy, Planning and Implementation, Aon Business Services, UK. Whelan has over 15 years’ experience of leading operational improvement projects as COO of the corporate finance division of Deutsche Bank. Stewart will join the firm after a 25-year career at WTW, where he most recently served as Great Britain Head of Strategy and Planning and Chief of Staff for the GB CEO. 

Marshhas announced the appointments ofTim Payneas UK Chairman of Marsh Specialty’s financial and professional practice andMichael Morganas Head of Professional Liability, UK Finpro. Payne has over 35 years’ industry experience and was previously Head of Professional Liability, UK Finpro. He began his career at Bowring Professional Indemnity. Morgan previously served as Head of Global Professions. He has over 30 years’ experience across Financial Lines, Reinsurance, and Captive Management and has been with Marsh since 2003.

Lucida Grouphas appointedTina Scottto the new role of Chief Information Officer. Scott joined Lucida Group following the acquisition of Bennetts in May 2021, where she held the role of IT and Change Director for the motorcycle specialist. As Chief Information Officer, she will oversee all technology-related resources and initiatives in support of group strategy.  

Markel International, has appointedRuth Gordonas a Livestock Underwriter. Gordon will be responsible for growing and developing the Livestock portfolio of business. Gordon has worked in Markel’s Equine and Livestock claims team for six years.

TheCambridge Centre for Risk Studies (CCRS)at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School has appointed Pool Re CEOJulian Enoizias Executive-in-Residence. He will take up this advisory role as of 1 Feb 2022. The role of Executive-in-Residence was created by CCRS to enable it to bring in Senior Executives from companies in a variety of industries to contribute their practical experience to the Centre’s strategy of bridging theory to practice. Executives help enable selected research tracks with their unique business perspectives and outreach capabilities.

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