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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 25th February 2022

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Pikl has reported a 300% growth in revenue last year, says Louise Birritteri, Founder and CEO. The sharing economy specialist has also grown its team from about 15 people in 2020 up to about 28, and it’s expecting to double that over the next 18 months.

In November 2020, the reinsurance giant Swiss Re forecast a 2021 turnaround and its expectations have proven to be correct. The group, which today joined the ranks of its peers and announced its full-year results for 2021 has revealed a spike in net income, which rose to a profit of US$1.43 billion after a net loss of US$878 million in 2020. Meanwhile, GWP for the reinsurer rose 9% to US$46.66 billion from US$42.95 billion in 2020, and 2021 saw the group report a return on equity of 5.7% and a combined ratio of 94.7%.

Just how bad could flash flooding get in London? According to Zurich Insurance Group, it seems the situation could be severe. The Insurer has released a study outlining that more than 126,000 commercial buildings in the capital would be at risk, with climate change heightening the ongoing threat.

Life Insurers in both the UK and EMEA regions are “under significant pressure” from regulators and management to improve their financial reporting, so many have made automation technology their key priority – a new survey from WTW has found. Over 90% of the Life Insurer survey respondents to WTW’s EMEA-wide Life Financial Modelling Survey said that the application of automation technology – which includes business process automation, elastic cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) – is a key priority of theirs to address the demand for reporting speed and efficiency.

MS Amlin Underwriting has chosen RiverStone International to undertake a split reinsurance-to-close (RITC) transaction of the UK Property and Casualty portfolio for 2019 and prior years of account of MS Amlin’s syndicate 2001. The companies have also agreed to a 100% quota share arrangement for the 2020 year of account for the same lines of business.

AXA has revealed a combined operating ratio of 95.6% for Property and Casualty business in the UK and Ireland in 2021, an improvement on the 96.2% posted in 2020. The Insurer reported total P&C revenue for the region of €3.53bn (£2.95bn) an uplift on the €3.46bn delivered the year before. The revenue breakdown showed a fall in Personal Lines but a rise in Commercial business.

In further news...AXA UK & Ireland has been awarded a Stonewall Gold Award in recognition of their commitment to creating a welcoming workplace for lesbian, gay, bi and trans colleagues. AXA has also moved up 24 spaces in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

The imarket policy count grew from 482,000 in 2020 to 490,000 in 2021, according to a report by technology provider Polaris. The number of policies traded on imarket, which connects Broker software platforms to Insurer systems for the placement of Commercial Lines insurance risks, increased to an “all-time high”.

Ageas UK is making significant investments “to enable us to win” with Brokers long term in the Personal Lines arena, CEO Ant Middle, said. Earlier this week, the Insurer revealed it had partnered with EIS for a “once in a generation” acceleration in its digital capability. The provider detailed that the infrastructure will stretch across proposition development, underwriting and pricing as well as allowing it to build tailored insurance solutions at pace for Brokers and to simplify insurance for customers including the ability to self-serve.

In further news...Ageas UK has reported a 1.7% drop in GWP to £1.21bn last year from £1.23bn in 2020. The provider’s combined operating ratio worsened year-on-year from 95.2% to 96.2% however the net result showed a substantial improvement. Profit rose by 14.6% to £52.1m.

Nexus Underwriting, an independent specialty Managing General Agent (MGA) in the London market, and Xenia Broking, a insurance and surety distribution specialist, will operate as distinct, independent brands under the Kentro holding company. Colin Thompson will continue to lead Kentro as CEO. Tim Coles will remain CEO of Xenia and Colin Thompson will continue as CEO of Nexus. The change of name to Kentro – the Greek word for “Centre” – will become effective on 22 February 2022.

The Financial Conduct Authority has not seen evidence of pressure to lower standards below the level the watchdog thinks is appropriate as the government reviews the state of regulation, leaders of the watchdog told a Treasury Select Committee. Sheldon Mills, Executive Director for Consumers and Competition at the FCA and Edwin Schooling Latter, Director of Wholesale Markets, gave evidence to the inquiry on the future of financial services on 21 February along with representatives from the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Bank of England.

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association, the Association of British Insurers, and Flood Re have announced the launch of a new directory of specialist Flood insurance providers that people may use to find cover. The move comes as collaborative approach between the three organisations, which aims to help more householders access Flood cover.

The Association of British Insurers has pledged to double the number of apprenticeships across the insurance and long-term savings sector to 2,500 by 2025. Over the next three years, the commitment aims to boost socio-economic diversity at entry level across the industry, shoot up career opportunities around the UK as well as increase access and inclusion.

Liberty Mutual Holding Company Inc (Liberty Mutual or LMHC)and its subsidiaries finished 2021 with a bang, as seen in its fourth quarter and full-year financial results. For the three months ended December 31, 2021 (Q4), LMHC's net written premium (NWP) totaled US$11,028 million (approx. GBP826 million), up 9.2% from US$10,095 million during the same quarter in 2020. Meanwhile, for the 12 months ended December 31, 2021 (FY21), the insurer's total NWP reached US$43,679 million, up 7.5% from US$40,624 million in the previous year.

In further news...Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM), part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, has become the first UK Insurer to provide both real-time Flood warnings to clients triggered by Internet of Things (IoT) sensors placed in watercourses close to their premises and surface water flood warnings. The ground-breaking initiative will see flood-affected commercial clients receive personalised warnings and graphical representations of water levels in their immediate area, allowing them to take action to protect their premises from flood water.

UK drivers could be left with “eye-watering” bills after making an insurance claim if they do not check the fine print in their policies for “loopholes,” consumer website Which? has warned. The consumer group analysed 49 policies from 34 insurers and found “gaps in cover for personal belongings, often toothless legal expenses cover, and surprising exclusions for courtesy cars.”

A footballer’s foul play cost him almost £4,000 after being caught out purchasing an insurance policy mere minutes after his vehicle collided into three parked cars. Pa Omar Mbowe, 25, who has played professionally in the Finnish and English leagues, took out a one-hour auto insurance policy to cover his back when his BMW 116i Sport smashed into the vehicles.

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)has opened nominations for the 2022 Building Public Trust awards, which honour the efforts made by members and organisations across the insurance and finance profession to raise public trust. The awards will take place virtually on September 15, 2022.

Aviva is issuing a warning to householders with virtual reality devices, after receiving a flurry of claims linked to VR games. The Insurer saw home contents claims involving VR headsets soar by 31% last year, compared to 2020, with the majority of claims relating to ‘accidental damage’. In most cases, customers made claims for TV sets which had been broken by over-enthusiastic gamers. The average value of a VR-related claim for accidental damage in 2021 was around £ issuing a warning to householders with virtual reality devices, after receiving a flurry of claims linked to VR games. The Insurer saw home contents claims involving VR headsets soar by 31% last year, compared to 2020, with the majority of claims relating to ‘accidental damage’. In most cases, customers made claims for TV sets which had been broken by over-enthusiastic gamers. The average value of a VR-related claim for accidental damage in 2021 was around £650.

ONE of the UK’s leading independent insurance Brokers is expanding its services throughout the North-East to cater for an increase in demand. H&H Insurance Brokers(HHIB), which operates throughout the North of England, the South of Scotland and Wales, is developing its range of products available to the agricultural sector following requests from clients. In addition to recently acquiring Hexham-based Tynedale Insurance Services to complement its Durham office, HHIB Account Executives will increase their presence at agricultural marts in Middleton-in-Teesdale and Kirkby Stephen on the Cumbrian border to connect more regularly with customers.

RSA Insurancehas announced that it is pledging over £750K to fund external apprenticeships, helping 40 small and medium-sized businesses create 146 apprenticeship opportunities throughout 2022. The Insurer’s pledge seeks to support the government’s agenda to level up pay, employment and productivity in the UK.

Full year results for Allianz Group show that the organisation is continuing to grow its business in the UK, achieving total revenue of £5.4bn in 2021 and growth of 2%. These combined figures position Allianz as one of the largest General Insurers in the UK.

Aon plc has announced that the Board of Directors has authorised an additional $7.5 billion in share repurchases. This is in addition to Aon's existing share repurchase program, which had approximately $1.7 billion of remaining authorisation as of December 31, 2021. Total authorisation increased to approximately $9.2 billion, before any share repurchase in the first quarter. Aon intends to complete the existing authorization before repurchasing shares under the new authorisation.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Trōv has revealed that its technology has been acquired by The Travelers Companies. The Insurtech added that most members of its team have also joined the Insurer. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Scott Walchek, Founder and CEO of Trōv, says the transaction was a results of the company’s years of experience in insurance innovation and credits Trōv’s team and partners for introducing technologies that brought on changes to the insurance industry.

Aston Lark Ireland has revealed the acquisition of Marine & General Insurances, subject to regulatory approval. Established in 1972, Marine & General provides bespoke solutions to individuals and businesses, offering a range of General Insurances, Financial Services, and Life and Pensions products. The Dublin-based Broker’s team is led by Colm Tyndall and Gavin Kennedy.

Global Risk Partners (GRP)has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Hamilton Fraser (the trading name of HFIS Limited). The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval. Hamilton Fraser, which is based in Borehamwood, was founded in 1996 by Simon Fox, Eddie Hooker and David Jacobs, and provides specialist insurance and risk management for the Private Rented Property sector and the Cosmetic and Aesthetic Practitioners industry, with a customer reach across the entire UK.

Amba C&W is part of the Amba People Group, a technology business that says it provides clients with an eco-friendly, ethical employee benefits platform. PCH is acquiring the assets of the broking division, based in Bristol, which distributes Employee Benefits, including Healthcare insurance, Group Life and Group Income Protection to corporate clients. Stephen Hough, MD at PCH said the deal was the third for PCH since the business was acquired by GRP in June 2020.

Movers & Shakers

Optio has expanded its Warranty and Indemnity (W&I) business, with the specialty MGA hiring Paul Tominey as Senior W&I Underwriter and increasing its W&I line size for single risks from £12 million to £20.5 million. Optio said that both moves will further strengthen its W&I proposition, helping it meet the increasing demand for transactional liability insurance for SMEs, where M&A activity remains high.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI)has appointed Dirk Flesch as the new Head of its Marine operations in Germany. He moves up from his position as Senior Underwriter for Marine at the insurance giant, which he joined in 2017. Flesch boasts more than two decades of experience in Marine insurance.

Beazley has revealed that James Eaton, current Head of Specialty Lines, will be retiring by the end of 2022. Eaton has spent almost 16 years at Beazley, and will retire after having served nearly 40 years in the insurance industry. He began his career as a Broker in 1984, joining Beazley in 2006. In 2018, Eaton assumed the role of Group Head of Specialty Lines, which comprises Beazley’s Professions, Treaty, Healthcare, International Financial Lines, and Private Enterprise teams. He also joined the company’s Executive Committee as part of his appointment as Group Head.

Aviva plc announces the following changes to the composition of its Board and Committees. Belen Romana Garcia and Patricia Cross will retire from the Board following the conclusion of the Company’s AGM on 9 May 2022, having served eight and seven years respectively. Andrea Blance has been appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director of the Company with effect from 21 February 2022.

AXA XL has announced plans to promote Francesca De Rosa to Head of Construction and Engineering, Reinsurance, effective June 1. In her new role, Ms. De Rosa will lead AXA XL’s Construction and Engineering Treaty and Facultative portfolio for International and US clients. She will be responsible for outlining and executing the portfolio strategy. Ms. De Rosa, who is based in Zurich, succeeds Toni Vukadinovic.

Premium Credit, the UK and Ireland’s leading premium finance provider, is pleased to announce that Iain Atkinson has joined the business as a Key Account Manager. Iain brings considerable sales and account management experience to the role including time spent with Close Brothers Premium Finance, Cooke and Mason and Swinton Commercial. He is also President of the Lincoln Insurance Institute.

Insurance provider ARAG has appointed Emma Wilson to the key role of ATE Account Manager for western England. Emma brings experience working in both the legal expenses insurance sector as well as for law firms, including Bott and Co.

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