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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 22nd July 2022

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Insurance News

Beazley has revealed its financial results for the half year ended June 30, 2022, a period that delivered a mixed bag for the Specialty Insurer. Its profit before tax dropped 87% to $22.3 million (approx. £18.64 million), from $167.3 million in H1 2021, while its annualised return on equity dropped to 1%, from 15% for the same period last year.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has published its 39-page response to HM Treasury’s consultation as part of the latter’s review of Solvency II. Part of the ABI’s response reads: “In addition to its commitment to HMT’s key objectives on competitiveness and policyholder protection, the insurance and long-term savings industry shares the government’s ambition to capitalise on Brexit by reforming Solvency II rules to unlock billions of pounds in new investment in the UK economy."

The Worldwide Broker Network (WBN) has added a trio of European members to its roster. Now part of the WBN line-up are Dutch business Söderberg & Partners and Croatia-based firms Risk Solution Broker (RSB) and Fortius Inter Partes.

There has been a sharp increase in insurance fraud claims this year, and it has been suggested that the surge has been driven by mounting cost-of-living pressures, a new report from Zurich UK has found. According to the Insurer, it saw the number of fraudulent Property claims jump by 25% between January 01 and May 31, compared to the same period last year. Zurich UK also noted that in the last five months, the Insurer prevented fraud totalling £4.2 million, which is up from £3.3 million over the same period in 2021. This translates to over £40,000 a day.

There may be a “great deal to be concerned about on a macro basis and a geopolitical basis in the world today”, but the world’s largest insurance Broker remains confident about its prospects in the face of any incoming recession, Marsh McLennan CEO Dan Glaser said. Glaser addressed analysts as the global brokerage released its second quarter results, reporting year-on-year revenue growth of 7%.

​​The cost of comprehensive car insurance rose by £32 in the last 12 months, according to research by Confused and WTW. The Car Insurance Price Index revealed that UK motorists now pay £554 on average compared to £522 in 2021. WTW and Confused detailed that car insurance premiums have now seen consecutive annual increases for the last two quarters, following the implementation of the new Financial Conduct Authority pricing rules on 1 January.

The Financial Conduct Authority has revealed progress towards its diversity and inclusion goals in its Annual Report & Accounts for 2021/22. The watchdog, having shown positive movement in all areas, highlighted that D&I was critical to its work on culture and governance. “Improving this in firms promotes diversity of thought, guards against groupthink, promotes better understanding of a diverse customer-base, and encourages greater competition and innovation to meet their needs,” the regulator stated.

In further news...​The Financial Conduct Authority has warned of a clone which is fraudulently using the logo of Assured Partners Broker, Borland Insurance. CEO of Borland Insurance, John Silcock, said that the clone had been using the firm’s logo but stated that no customers had been affected by the scam.

The current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nadim Zahawi, has pledged that laws will be changed under the newly-published Financial Services and Markets Bill. In a speech at Mansion House this week, Zahawi, said: “The Bill implements the outcomes of the Future Regulatory Framework Review. I can announce today that we will repeal hundreds of pieces of retained EU law."

The Financial Conduct Authority only met its processing speed target for 44.7% of appointed representative notifications in 2021/22. The FCA detailed that it has a voluntary target of processing 95% of complete notifications for AR status within five working days of the request. The low achievement in 2021/22 was even worse than the year before when it only delivered on time for 48.1% of notifications.

The Financial Ombudsman Service has highlighted a 33.4% fall in complaints about insurance pricing in 2021/22. The one-third drop took complaints from 1,507 in 2020/21 to 1,004 – effectively in line with the 1,076 reported in 2019/20. There was also a reduction in the FOS’ uphold rate. The percentage of complaints upheld by the ombudsman has now fallen from 29% to 19% between 2019 and 2022.

Alison Meckiffe, CEO of Broker Endsleigh, has taken the business back to its roots focusing on education, students and not-for-profits. Meckiffe, who joined the Broker in 2020, said: “The role came as a surprise opportunity and offered a chance to bring the business back to profitable growth and focus on its heritage."

​The Protection Distributors Group (PDG) has announced the latest list of Insurers that meet its best practice claims criteria to become Claims Charter signatories, following a rigorous review of claims handling practices across the industry. Fourteen (14) Insurers have met PDG’s standards and been named as signatories to the Claims Charter for 2022, bringing total membership up to 21. These are Aegon, AIG, British Friendly, Guardian, Holloway, HSBC Life, Legal & General, LV=, MetLife, Scottish Widows, Shepherds Friendly, The Exeter, Vitality, and Zurich.

Marsh McLennan has kept strong momentum as it heads into the mid-point of 2022, as the insurance and consulting giant revealed its Q2 financial results. Consolidated revenue for the group saw a 7% rise year-on-year at $5.4 billion, slightly lower than Q1’s result of $5.5 billion. The group’s revenue increased by 20% on an underlying basis, while its operating income stood at $1.4 billion, an 11% spike from the prior year. Adjusted operating income rose 8% to $1.3 billion.

Insurtech Gateway – the birthplace of the likes of FloodFlash and By Miles – has completed the first close of its Seed Fund II, which will allow the Insurtech investor to back a further 20 teams over the next four years. “We believe that insurance and technology can transform society,” said Insurtech Gateway Chief Executive Richard Chattock, whose incubators support 20 portfolio companies in the UK and four in Australia. “We are proud to have created a place where independent Founders can build sustainable partnerships with progressive Insurers, Regulators, and Co-Investors.”

Global insurer Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) has now made its way to Switzerland. Announcing its foray into the Swiss market, the Boston-headquartered group said it now underwrites Property, Casualty, and Executive & Professional lines in Switzerland from the company’s new office in Zürich. Meanwhile several other product lines are set to be launched later on.

HSBC Life UK has launched a digital underwriting innovation that enables medical screening requests to be sent to and received back automatically from the medical screening provider Square Health, exclusively available on UnderwriteMe’s protection platform. Once the screening is completed, the results are returned to HSBC Life’s digital underwriting rules engine – provided by UnderwriteMe – to instantly provide an eligibility decision. This will also be available via the HSBC Life extranet journey for those IFA users who use IRESS, iPipeline and Synaptic Webline.

Major reinsurer SCOR has tapped into Insurtech Concirrus’ data modelling capabilities to improve its Marine line’s loss ratios. Concirrus was founded to harness data and technology to improve loss ratios and increase Specialty and Commercial insurance’s operating efficiency. Gregory Delaisse, Global Head of Marine at SCOR, said the reinsurer has teamed up with Concirrus to access its Hull Market Model.

HSB (UK and Ireland) has brought together its business development, customer trading hub and claims areas under a newly created Commercial Division. The Commercial Division will deliver a more collaborative and seamless customer experience for Brokers, Insurers and MGAs.

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) is pleased to welcome Arch Insurance as a partner. Steve White, BIBA CEO said: “It is really valuable to have another BIBA partner. Insurer insights help our Broker members to help their customers. We are delighted that Arch has joined BIBA and we look forward to working with them.”

Mergers & Acquisitions

Global Risk Partners has bought Maidstone-based First Insurance Solutions in its first deal since the takeover by Brown & Brown completed earlier this month. The consolidator confirmed that First Insurance, a broker providing bespoke insurance solutions in the contracting sectors such as drainage, cleaning, electrical, air-conditioning and security, will keep its brand, offices and all staff.

The Jensten Group has acquired Leeds-based Broker Ravenhall Risk Solutions for an undisclosed sum. The deal, which is subject to approval by the FCA, bolsters Jensten’s regional presence in Yorkshire and is the Group’s latest step in its ‘buy and build’ strategy.

Just Travel Cover, the Leisure Travel Insurance specialists and insurance product and service provider, has acquired the Travel insurance and Scheme specialist business Alpha Underwriting from CPP Secure Limited. The deal sees Just Travel Cover grow its Broker network and provide Alpha’s general insurance Brokers with access to its unique panel of insurance products, meaning they can compare multiple schemes from leading Insurers in one place, without the need to re-key, and offer worldwide travel insurance with no age limit, cover for hundreds of pre-existing medical conditions, cruises, winter sports and other activities.

Davies has announced that it has completed its acquisition of Asta Capital, the market-leading third-party Managing Agent at Lloyd’s, following approval by regulators including Lloyd’s, the UK’s Financial Conduct and Prudential Regulation Authorities, and the Dubai Financial Services Authority.

Movers & Shakers

Allianz Holdings has appointed Ashish Patel as Chief Operating Officer after Stephanie Smith left at the end of 2021. Smith had been with the business since 2009 becoming COO in 2016. The role has been held by Gavin Dresher on an interim basis since her departure. Patel has worked for the Allianz Group for nine years, having previously held the position of Head of Allianz Technology India.

APRIL International has announced two new hires – Agne Gacionyte has been appointed to the newly created role of UK Marketing Manager, while Roshani Thapa has joined as Broker Sales Consultant. Gacionyte most recently held a senior marketing role at AXA Health. She has more than seven years of experience in the industry and will draw on her experience of managing SME engagement and strategic media partnerships in supporting APRIL International’s continued growth. Thapa was previously with Aetna International, where she was responsible for providing support to the UK sales and retention teams for SME and large corporate accounts.

AXA XL Insurance has appointed Sarah White as Senior Underwriter, Professional Indemnity, UK & Lloyd’s, with immediate effect. Ms. White began her insurance career in 2006 as an Account Manager in the Professional Indemnity team at Lockton (formerly Alexander Forbes). In 2010, she joined HDI Global Specialty (formerly Inter Hannover) as an Assistant Underwriter, before being promoted to Underwriter and later, Senior Underwriter and Product Lead for SME lawyers.

Admiral Group has hired Keith Davies as Group Chief risk and compliance officer starting September 2022. Davies has experience in risk management and compliance. He is currently a Non-Executive Director and Chair of the audit and risk committees for two Admiral entities: Admiral Insurance Company and Admiral Insurance Gibraltar.

Dan Blake has joined the senior management team, as the new Head of Private Equity. Blake is a Chartered Insurance Broker and joins Vista from Arthur J Gallagher Insurance Brokers. His key role will be to lead Vista’s private equity practice. Blake started his career with J K Lee, which is now part of Howden Group.

The Financial Ombudsman has appointed James Dipple-Johnstone as Deputy Chief Ombudsman and Karl Khan as Chief Operating Officer. Dipple-Johnstone has previous experience in leadership roles. He currently works as the Deputy Commissioner for the Information Commissioner’s Office. He has also held senior posts in UK police, health and government oversight agencies. Khan has recently completed a secondment from HM revenue and Customs to the UK Health Security Agency as Operations Performance and Improvement Director. He was previously Interim Director General in the customer service group at HMRC.

Spring Insure has named Bethany Thomas as Senior Underwriter, where she will be responsible for leading the UK Financial Lines and Commercial D&O team. Thomas has spent her 14-year insurance career as a Financial Lines Broker and joins Spring from Protean Risk where she held the positions of Account Director and Team Leader.

Collinson has named Mo Shakarchi as its new Chief Product and Innovation Officer and will report to joint CEO Christopher Evans. Alongside his work at Collinson, Shakarchi will continue to be an advisory board member for Global Logic and start-ups, where he advises C-level suit on product, digital and data trends across industries.

Beazley has revelead that its Chair, David Roberts will be standing down from the board in autumn 2022 to take up the role as Chair of the court of the Bank of England.

Miller has hired Paul Jacobs and Steve Quick to form a Farms and Estates team. The rural team will be part of Miller’s new ‘international special asset insurance’ department, which incorporates its private client, rural and soon-to-be-launched equine offerings. Jacobs will report into Katie Small, Head of Private Clients, with Quick reporting into Jacobs.

Insurtech Ripe Thinking has welcomed industry veteran Laurel Powers-Freeling as the new Chair of its board. Powers-Freeling brings to Ripe a proven track record in financial services, tech, and business growth. Aside from serving as CEO of M&S Money, she has held various senior executive, board, or non-executive positions for major financial institutions like Prudential, ACE/Chubb, Lloyds Bank Group, and the Bank of England. She has also made significant impact in fintech, currently serving as chair of both Uber UK and personal finance platform Moneybox.

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