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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 15th July 2022

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Insurance News

Gross written premium in Sabre’s Motor book has dropped around 10.6% compared to the same period in 2021, the Insurer has revealed in its half year results. Sabre flagged that this was due to pricing ahead of the market in response to higher levels of inflation. GWP was up year-on-year at £91.8m from £78.2m, but this included £22.1m of motorcycle and taxi business which the provider has expanded into.

Insurtech Motor specialist Zego has told staff that it will be cutting its headcount by 17%. A Zego spokesperson commented: “On Monday 11 July, Zego’s CEO, Sten Saar, announced to all employees that regrettably, the company could no longer avoid headcount reductions, and that sadly this meant 17% of the team across various departments would be impacted. This decision was not taken lightly, and largely came as a result of increased economic headwinds experienced since the beginning of this year."

Verlingue has grown its turnover to £18.3m, a 2.3% increase on the £17.9m it posted in 2020. The business revealed in a statement that profit before tax decreased by 4.3% to £2.9m (2020: £3m). The organisation said this was a result of continued investment in the business.

Property specialist Avantia has reported revenue of £26.58m in 2021 with a reinvestment by ECI Partners. This was up from £21.75m the year before. In a filing at Companies House, the business stated that it grown “strongly” due to continuing to focus on enhancing its pricing, underwriting and data analytics capabilities.

Aviva is providing customers with the ability to communicate using British Sign Language when calling the company through a new partnership with interpreting service Sign Live. The free initiative enables Aviva’s Home and Motor insurance customers to connect via video with a certified BSL interpreter who can provide a two-way translation and enable a real-time conversation with an Aviva representative.

Brit Insurance has partnered with GT Scholars, a UK-based social enterprise, to launch online digital challenges that help young people access career opportunities in insurance and build their employability skills.

Romero announced it is investing more than £110,000 a year in its wellbeing service, giving every employee £500 each to spend on the subsidised wellbeing services that are hosted on site in the businesses head office, from a custom-designed permanent wellbeing clinic. The Broker developed a wellbeing programme across its seven offices and for its 200 staff several years ago.

Flood Re has reported covering 256,634 policies in the year ended 31 March 2022, up 17.7% on the previous 12 months. The increase came with a similar rise in gross written premiums, up by £7m year-on-year at £46m. According to Flood Re CEO, Andy Bord, the growth was spread across the country.

Insurance claims solutions business S&G Response has opened a new office in Halifax, expanding its operations within the North of England. The new 4,000-square-foot office is located in Holroyd’s Mill, Dean Clough, situated within easy reach of Halifax town centre. The opening created an initial 20 new jobs for Halifax locals, with plans to increase to 50 over the course of the year.

Lloyd’s Broker Superscript has been tapped as Virgin Money’s business insurance provider on the high-street bank’s new online marketplace for business banking customers. “We are delighted to partner with Virgin Money on their new business banking online marketplace,” said Superscript Partnerships Director Henry Newby. “Virgin Money is a big high-street bank, growing fast, and developing a really strong digital offering."

Swiss Re has published its annual world insurance sigma, which forecasts a record-breaking total premium volume of over $7 trillion in nominal terms by year-end and strong global insurance market growth in both 2022 and 2023. Swiss Re Institute’s prediction of a solid 6.1% growth in total global insurance premiums in 2022 in nominal terms – surpassing $7 trillion for the first time – finds support in steady employment and income growth, rate hardening in Property and Casualty, and a uniquely heightened risk awareness for mortality and health risks. Volumes will be 17% higher than at the onset of the pandemic, Swiss Re noted – a testament to the resilience of insurance markets.

A man from London has been sentenced for setting up hundreds of fraudulent insurance policies on behalf of other people by using false details and compromised bank accounts. Rodney Bruce Van der Puye, 34, of Southwark, pocketed around £50,000 in just over 15 months by acting as an illegal intermediary, also known as a ‘ghost Broker’. Van der Puye targeted some of the UK’s biggest insurance companies, using his, his mother’s and unknowing members of the public’s identities to take out cheaper Motor insurance policies for his ‘customers’.

The management team of Honcho, the UK’s first ‘reverse auction’ market-place for car insurance has announced that they are “packing up.”

UK Insurtech Ripe Thinking has achieved its strongest financial performance to date and is embarking on its next phase of growth and proprietary tech deployment. Ripe has reported a record year, with turnover rising by 24% to £23.3m for year ending 31 December 2021 (2020: £18.8m) and profits remain consistently strong.

Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM), part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, has welcomed the market-leading Gracechurch London’s Leading Underwriters Report 2022, which recognised LSM as the London Market carrier with the strongest female underwriting talent, including the highest number of influential female Underwriters. In addition, Meghan Walker, Head of Aviation at LSM was ranked #2 of London’s Leading Female Underwriters 2022.

Aston Lark Ireland closed its Dublin head office yesterday (July 14) to pay respects to former associate director Barrie Dunphy, who was laid to rest on the same day. “It is with great sadness and heavy hearts we share the news that our dear friend and colleague Barrie Dunphy recently passed away,” posted the insurance Broker on LinkedIn.

Allianzis looking to expand its reach from customers in the global insurance sector and deeper into multinational insurance. Its international corporate insurance carrier, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), will meet the increasing demand for cross-border coverage from large and medium-sized companies, adjusting to the complexities of the new market with substantial changes to its structure and strategy.

Simon Bierton, Owner of The Red Lion in Sturmer, has been awarded £207,112 by the High Court in the pub landlord’s Business Interruption clash with Managing General Agent Matrix Underwriting Management. The above-mentioned amount, which was said to be the maximum damages, came about following a lack of response from the MGA and its failure to meet a legal deadline. Bierton had to temporarily close the Essex-based pub in 2020 and was met with COVID-19 Tier 3 rules when he resumed operations.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Ataraxia has boosted its shareholding in Greater Manchester-based Whitefield Insurance Brokers to 49%. The minority investment specialists first bought in to Ramsbottom-headquartered Whitefield Insurance in 2018. Ataraxia highlighted that the firm has become an Ataraxia Plus member as part of the move. This level of ownership provides more strategic planning and day-to-day assistance to its insurance Brokers via access to a Regional Development Director, as well as support with compliance, marketing, and training, Ataraxia detailed.

Just Travel Cover, a Leisure Travel insurance specialist and insurance product and service provider, has bought the Travel insurance and scheme specialist business Alpha Underwriting from CPP Secure. The consideration for the deal is undisclosed. CPP only acquired Alpha Underwriting in January this year. Just Travel Cover said the move would help it grow its Broker network and provide Alpha’s general insurance Brokers with access to its unique panel of insurance products.

Miller has announced the acquisition of Lead Insurance Services Limited (‘Lead’). Lead is based in Tokyo, Japan, and the acquisition cements a longstanding relationship between the two businesses. Founded in 1994, Lead specializes in Hull, War Risks and Protection & Indemnity insurance, offering a highly complementary service to Miller’s current Marine capabilities. Lead has a strong client base and has been working alongside Miller for a quarter of a century.

The UK’s PIB Group has made its fourth investment in Spain, snapping up Confide Insurance and Reinsurance Broker SA, subject to Spanish regulatory approval. “We are delighted that PIB has attracted such a leading insurance team in the Spanish insurance market,” said the group’s Head of European Mergers and Acquisitions James Harmer. “Confide, together with our existing acquisitions, will form the cornerstone of the investment for PIB Group in Spain."

Movers & Shakers

The Personal Finance Society is seeking an interim CEO ahead of recruiting for a permanent successor to Keith Richards. Richards, who had been in the post since 2013, left in June last year. The PFS board will use consultants to find the interim CEO and expects to have someone in place before the end of the summer. The PFS has been part of the wider Chartered Insurance Institute group for nearly 18 years. The CII said at the time of Richards’ departure that his replacement would be Chief Membership Officer but not have the title of CEO.

​AXA XL has promoted Olivia Shing to the role of Head of International Casualty, UK & Lloyd’s. Shing has over 20 years of experience in senior leadership across client servicing, distribution, and operational roles in the UK and Asia. She most recently held the position of Head of Underwriting Management, UK & Lloyd’s at AXA XL, and has been in positions of increasing importance since joining the company in 2014.

In further news, AXA XL has announced the following promotions in its Marine and Energy teams. Paul Rothery has been promoted to Global CUO – Marine Liability & Ports and Mark Appleton has been promoted to Head of Energy Liability, UK & Lloyd’s.

​Aon’s M&A (mergers and acquisitions) and transaction solutions team in the UK has welcomed the arrival of three Executives. Sam Bridges brings more than two decades of investment banking experience from J.P. Morgan, joining the corporate M&A coverage line-up at Aon in his capacity as Director. Meanwhile, internal hire Tanya Hickson made the switch from the company’s corporate team to the M&A transaction advisory risk and insurance unit in Manchester. Also, Corporate M&A Lawyer Guy Ruddy moved from Leeds-based Squire Patton Boggs to become part of Aon’s transaction solutions roster outside of London. He will serve as Director.

Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM), part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, has appointed Laura Burns to the newly created role of Head of Client Management. Burns joined LSM in 2010. Her most recent role was Head of Broker Management in the London Market. Prior to joining LSM she worked for Mitsui Sumitomo. She has significant experience of working with clients and client management. She started her insurance career in 2006.

Claims giant Sedgwick is placing the emphasis on the word “team” with its latest addition. The company has announced the appointment of Vicki Cowell as Head of Colleague Resources in the UK – a move it believes will boost business performance as she aims to develop people-focused strategies and programmes. According to a Press release announcing her arrival, she will also “champion a collaborative approach” across the organisation. Cowell brings with her 20 years of experience across senior human resource roles.

Consilium, an international insurance and reinsurance Broker under the Aventum Group, has recruited James Baird for a senior leadership position. Baird, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the industry, joins Consilium from Ardonagh-owned Ed Broking, where he was Director of its strategic risk group. He will work together with Aventum’s leadership team to manage the Consilium’s strategic direction and growth globally.

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