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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 12th July 2019

11 Jul 2019

Insurance News

Gresham Underwriting has launched a new sports and social clubs product, available on its online quote system. The Managing General Agent (MGA) stated that the policy had been developed in response to feedback from its Broker partners. It noted that Brokers wanted more options in the market outside of schemes and affinities, allowing them to place business direct with the Underwriter rather than often acting as a Sub-Broker. The provider detailed that the product includes a wide range of covers designed for this sector of business but with the flexibility to consider any specific requests that may arise.

Towergate has confirmed it is closing its office in Halifax at the end of the month in a move which will impact 12 staff. The Broker stated that the servicing of its Halifax clients will move to its office in Leeds, adding that all staff in its Halifax branch have been offered a position in Leeds. Six people have decided to leave the business, while the remaining six have decided to stay with the business and take up roles in Leeds.

Profits have fallen at Thomas Carroll Group despite an increase in turnover, results for 2018 show. According to a document filed on Companies House, the firm’s turnover rose from £10.1m in 2017 to £10.4m in 2018. Turnover increased across all three classes of business at Thomas Carroll: broking, Financial Advisors and health and safety. Broking made up £8.1m (78%) of the 2018 total. However, profits went in the opposite direction. Profit before tax fell from £1.6m in 2017 to £1.3m in 2018. Thomas Carroll Director John Moore MBE remained positive in a statement: “The results for 2018 again outperformed our market competitors.”

Lloyd’s is set to hold a series of confidential focus groups to investigate the market’s culture, directly following the completion of its market-wide culture survey at the end of May 2019. The focus groups will be conducted independently by a specialist psychologist from consultancy firm Pearn Kandola LLP. Beginning on 9 July, nine sessions will be held across three days at a discreet off-site location. A spokesperson for Lloyd’s said that there are currently no specific plans for revealing the results of these sessions, but that “the focus group insights will probably be included within a broader survey piece”.

Premium Credit has confirmed it has stopped financing insurance premiums where unrated Danish provider Gefion Insurance is the underlying Insurer. The business said in October that it had Gefion under “active review” and was monitoring the volumes being written. This follows the news from earlier this month that the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (DFSA) stated that Gefion’s solvency ratio is 105% as of 31 May, lowering it from the 130% the provider posted in its Solvency Report in June. The Motor Insurer was forced to take action earlier this year, after its solvency ratio dropped to 72%.

In further news....The Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (DFSA) has ordered unrated Danish provider Gefion not to increase its volumes of business. In a statement, the regulator wrote: “Due to the company’s solvency situation, the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority ordered the company not to expand its business volume.” The decision followed on-site inspections by the DFSA. The regulator said it reviewed Gefion’s business models, solvency, capital, capital plan and management system.

As the Dive In festival gets closer to its fifth year, Pauline Miller, Head of Talent Development and inclusion at Lloyd’s, said that diversity and inclusion (D&I) look different in every location due to differences in culture, legal systems and regulation. The global theme of the festival is impact and Miller added: “Clearly around the world diversity & inclusion, especially diversity look different in different locations and that may be cultural, it may be legal and regulatory. So it's not for us in London to enforce our views on or to enforce the diversity message across the full spectrum of diversity in local countries, it’s for us to engage communities around the diversity and inclusion agenda, as is relevant to them and where they are on the D&I journey.”

The Dive In festival will take place from 24 - 26 September in 33 countries and for the first time events will be hosted in Nigeria, Bahrain, Turkey, Oman and Indonesia. Event registration started from 11 July and members of the insurance industry are able to browse and sign up for events via its new website which also features a video library on Dive In and D&I. Speakers at the event include Frank Bruno, Esther Rantzen, Mary Portas and Reggie Yates and discussions include mental health and the issue of bullying and harassment. Pauline Miller, Head of Talent Development and Inclusion at Lloyd’s said that this year the festival will also address the insurance #MeToo movement. The 2019 festival has twenty gold sponsors: Aon, AIG, Aviva, Axa XL, Chubb, CNA Hardy, DLA Piper, Gallagher, Kennedys Law, Lloyd’s, Markel, Marsh & Guy Carpenter, Miller, MS Amlin, Oliver James, PwC, RSA, RMS, Willis Towers Watson and Zurich.

Seventeen Group has acquired Plymouth based Walker Persson & Spargo Ltd effective from 28th June 2019 for an undisclosed sum. WPS was established in 1968 and are a leading independent Broker in the South West. They are Chartered Insurance Brokers and members of the UNA Broking Alliance. In addition to handling corporate and personal lines business on both a regional and national level, WPS handles schemes and affinity-based clients across a number of sectors. The business employs over 40 staff and generates a Gross Written Premium of £17million. WPS is led by Directors Steve Rowlands, Steve Harvey and Colin Watts, all of whom are remaining with the business along with the wider WPS team. The business will continue to trade as WPS from the existing Plymouth premises.

More than one year on from the General Data Protection Regulation, which came into force on 25th May 2018, the news that British Airways is to be fined more than £183m by the Information Commissioner’s Office after hackers stole the personal data of half a million of the airline’s customers will come as no surprise, says insurance, risk management and data privacy expert Darren Wray. The ICO said that the incident involved customer details including login, payment card, name, address and travel booking information being harvested after being diverted to a fraudulent website.

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has produced a promotional toolkit to help existing and new holders of Chartered status promote their achievement. The Corporate Chartered toolkit offers documents explaining what consumers can expect from a business that has achieved Chartered status plus details of how to get a free Chartered wall plaque and window stickers. The toolkit also offers access to the Chartered logo, which can be used by businesses that achieve this status on everything from email signatures to corporate web pages, social media, printed brochures or letterheads.

In other news...Diversity and inclusion is something that Tali Shlomo, the People Engagement Director at the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and speaker at the upcoming Women in Insurance event, is extremely passionate about. Shlomo worked in a number of different industries, from start-ups to tech to media, before landing the job at the CII. She said that the organisation was looking for someone to bring in a “mindshift change” and that she was ready to take that on. Her whole career since has been focused on working in the diversity space, long before many organisations jumped on board to the extent they have now. Shlomo points out that people are key in an organisation and having different perspectives, that comes from having a diverse workforce, is one of the most valuable things that a company can have. Women make up half the population of the world, yet in insurance, are woefully underrepresented in the executive ranks.

In further news...Bravo Group, the name behind Compass, Ethos Broking and Broker Network, has announced a collaboration with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), training provider Babington and insurance giant RSA on what it describes as a “collaborative apprenticeship scheme” that represents a “one of its kind” for the UK broking sector. The first cohort sees 17 employees and members from across Bravo Group being funded by RSA via its Apprenticeship Levy funds to help enhance professionalism across the sector. The Bravo Group Learning Network aims to “revolutionise” the way professional development is approached through collaborative learning and by connecting industry experts with learners via virtual classrooms and webinars.

Pool Re has announced the placement of its new retrocession programme covering non-damage Business Interruption (”NDBI”) losses. The programme incepted on July 5th 2019. The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018, which was signed in February 2019, allows Pool Re to cover losses incurred if a business cannot trade or is prevented from accessing its premises in the wake of a terrorist attack that does not involve damage.

Only 9.6% of Brokers believe the economic climate is having a positive effect, down from 20% last year, according to Aviva’s latest Broker Barometer. National Brokers reported they are feeling the impact most, with 42% saying the current climate is bad for business. In addition, Brokers in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland were more concerned than Brokers in England. However, the number of Brokers who feel there is no impact on their business has risen to 60.8% in 2019, from 51% a year ago.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its annual reports and accounts for 2018/19, reporting that income exceeded operating costs by £25.4m. The excess income allowed the FCA to pay down 30% of its accumulated deficit, which now stands at £61.5m. However, at a staff level, sizeable pay gaps persist for female and ethnic minority employees, as well as between executive members and non-executive staff.

Saffron Insurance has bought Broker Network member, Bridge Insurance Services for an undisclosed sum. This is Saffron’s fourth deal since becoming an Ethos Broking Partner and follows the purchases of Romford-based Farmer Insurance Brokers, Continuum Insurance Brokers based in Hertford and Bedfordshire-based Grove Insurance Services. Bridge was established over 40 years ago by Cliff Humphreys in Wisbech Cambridgeshire and provides insurance in both personal lines and commercial lines.

Davies Group isn’t hitting the brakes just yet when it comes to expanding its stable of businesses – announcing its latest swoop aimed at boosting the company’s specialist Motor claims capability. Acquiring Burnley-based GBB Holdings for an undisclosed amount, Davies will be joined by specialist forensic investigations business GBB and motor engineering solutions provider Banwells. Both operations are headed by Managing Director Brian Henderson, who will remain in his current capacity. The forensic investigations unit will continue to trade as GBB, while Banwells and its existing specialist motor engineering business TLSS will operate under the Davies motor engineering banner. Overall, the 70-strong team of forensic scientists, engineers and collision specialists will be part of the motor claims roster of Davies.

Pro Global Holdings, an independent consultancy and service provider, has announced the launch of its Cyber audit practice, which was developed to support the insurance industry’s response to Cyber risk. The practice is headed by Richard Robertson, Pro Global’s Head of Information Security and was launched in partnership with Cyber and information-security firm Cyber Security Services (CSA). Pro’s Cyber audit practice will utilise CSA’s security intelligence and operations, which will provide 24/7 automated technical monitoring.

The tech industry is worth £184 billion in the UK and generates £150 million of GWP each year for the insurance industry. That is part of the reason why insurance giant Markel decided to launch its new proposition, MarkelTech. Nic Brown, UK Sales and Marketing Director, said that the proposition brought together a number of functions to create a unique product with the concept dating back two years to when Neil Galjaard joined Markel as the UK’s Managing Director.

Autonet owner Atlanta Group has reached an agreement with Ageas to take over the lease of Ageas’ Stoke-on-Trent office and offer employment to the majority of the 220 staff who work at the site. In March, Ageas confirmed it was to close its operations in Stoke and Port Solent, anticipating up to 430 redundancies. Atlanta, the retail division of the Ardonagh Group, which also owns Carole Nash and Swinton, said it was taking over the office in a phased programme beginning 1 September 2019.

Markerstudy has bought telematics Broker Smart Driver Club Insurance, part of the Smart Driver Club Group, for an undisclosed sum. The business will be added to Markerstudy’s retail and affinity division, adding a growing number of policies to its existing book. In January, Markerstudy bought Co-op’s underwriting business and signed a 13 year agreement to distribute Motor and Home insurance products for a total of £185m.

Flood Re has announced proposals outlining how to encourage more properties across the UK to be made resilient to flooding. Flood Re was established to promote the availability and affordability of Household insurance for eligible homes and over its lifetime, enable a transition to affordable risk-reflective pricing for Household insurance for those at risk of flooding. Flood Re must formally review the scheme at least every five years in what is called “the quinquennial review” (QQR). Flood Re wants to work with Insurers to “build back better” homes after a flood. It therefore proposes changes to the scheme that would permit the payment of claims to include an additional amount for resilient or resistant repair, above and beyond the original damage.

Allianz Partners, which has been providing Travel insurance to customers of Eurotunnel for the last 14 years, has bagged a major contract that widens its longstanding partnership. It’s been announced that Eurotunnel has chosen Allianz Partners UK as its European roadside assistance partner, leveraging the experience of Allianz Partners in handling more than four million Motor assistance cases throughout Europe each year.

The three-way partnership between insurance law firm DAC Beachcroft, insurtech Automated Insurance Solutions and Motor repair and claims flow solutions specialist Audatex has brought to life BAIL – an online tool, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), designed to assess motor accident Liability with speed, accuracy and consistency. Accessed through a secure web portal, the BAIL platform can be used by either a claims handler or the policyholder themselves via the self-service feature. The Liability outcome is produced immediately using captured information as well as links to Google Maps and historical meteorological data.

Swiss Re has hit a snag in its planned initial public offering (IPO) of UK closed book subsidiary ReAssure. Announcing the suspension of the IPO, Swiss Re noted: “This action is in response to the heightened caution and weaker underlying demand in the UK primary market from large institutional investors.” Swiss Re Group Chief Financial Officer John Dacey, meanwhile, suggested that the London listing isn’t a matter of urgency.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has published indicative numbers illustrating how its levy will be distributed across firms in 2019/20. According to the organisation, the top 110 firms, comprising 0.2% of the total levy paying population, will pay an average of £3m, which is almost 61% of the total levy bill. Meanwhile, 59% of the 46,000 firms that will pay FSCS’s levy this year will pay less than £50. The scheme added that more than 4,500 businesses will not pay any levy at all and will instead receive an average rebate of £139.

Market Movers and Shakers

AXA UK and Ireland has announced that David Baker will join the company as Chief Risk Officer after the summer, subject to regulatory approval. He joins AXA from Direct Line Group, where he has been the Director of Group Compliance: Regulatory and Conduct Risk for the past seven years. An economist by background, Baker has been instrumental in shaping Direct Line Group’s journey from an insurance division of the RBS Group to a standalone listed FTSE 100 insurance group, having previously also held regulatory focused roles at Prudential, the Financial Ombudsman Service and Phoenix Group. Baker will join the AXA UK and Ireland Management Committee, replacing outgoing CRO Evan Waks. The continued importance of the Insurer’s relationship with the regulator will be a significant focus of his role, as AXA moves to finalising and implementing its 'Beyond 2020' strategy.

In further news...AXA Commercial Lines has appointed Joanne Howliston as Regional Director for the North. Prior to this promotion, she was Branch Manager for Leeds and Newcastle. In her new role, Howliston will have accountability for the direction and performance of the six branches that make up the North region. She will also liaise closely with Alan Scott, Regional Director for the South, to ensure a coordinated approach to trading and distribution relationships across the UK.

Property Initiatives Underwriting Agency (PIUA) has hired Caroline Fisher into a strategic account management role. Fisher, who joins the business from Commercial Express, will report to MD Wayne Tonge and has a brief to expand trading relationships with Brokers. PIUA, part of the URIS Group Ltd (which is part of the Ardongh group), based in Petersfield, Hampshire, is a leading Commercial and Residential Property Underwriter distributing their products to UK Regional Brokers. Tonge said: “Caroline is a highly experienced practitioner with a fantastic track record who will oversee our ambitious growth plans in the Property sector. She starts with immediate effect and I am delighted to welcome her to PIUA.”

Towergate Insurance Brokers has recruited Phillip Hatfield as Development Executive, whilst Jonathan Swainbank and Adam Mitchell join as Account Executives - all three will be based at the company’s Taunton office. From the Taunton branch, Towergate Insurance Brokers deals with commercial business insurance, specialising in Motor Trade, Utilities, Construction and Farm and Agricultural insurance. In his new role, Phillip will be responsible for seeking new opportunities to support more local businesses and individuals across the South West with their insurance and risk management requirements. He will manage and develop a portfolio of clients, identifying new business opportunities and supporting local businesses, particularly using his agricultural experience to benefit clients across the sector.

Allianz Insurance has named David Harris as its new Regional Motor Underwriting Manager for Midlands and the South West region. David joined Allianz in 2002, after being attracted to the company for its culture and investment in its people. He has held a variety of roles, working in a mixture of Motor Fleet and underwriting account management, holding his most recent position for 15 years as Motor Manager in the Luton Office. In his new role, David will have responsibility for creating and driving the strategy for Motor Fleet business in the Midlands and South West region.

In further news...Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE (AGCS) has shuffled the leadership of its alternative risk transfer (ART) and Liability lines of business. Christof Bentele, who was most recently Head of Global Crisis Management, has been promoted to the newly created position of Head of Global Client Management for ART. With Bentele’s new role, the Head of Global Crisis Management job has been split into two positions: Björn Reusswig has been named Head of Global Political Violence and Hostile Environment Solutions and Stewart Eaton appointed as Head of Global Crisis Management Recall.

Allianz UK Chief Executive officer Jon Dye has been named as the new Chair of the Association of British Insurers (ABI). This follows the resignation of Amanda Blanc last week, after she left her role as EMEA CEO of Zurich. The Insurer trade body noted that Dye will serve a one-year term, after which the board chair role will revert to a two-year tenure.

Mactavish, the UK’s leading expert on insurance governance, has made two senior hires from the insurance sector. Liam Fitzpatrick joins Mactavish in a newly created position of Client Services Director, where he will oversee the delivery of the firm’s technical output and be responsible for all aspects of client service. Matt Pellowe joins Mactavish as Business Development Director, where he will be focused on how the company can further expand on its recent strong growth. Previously, he has worked at AXA as a Liability Underwriter and most recently at Zurich where he worked in their Deal Management Team, coordinating complex multi-line insurance solutions across both Property/Casualty and Speciality classes.

General insurance provider, Berkeley Alexander, has appointed Limahl Davies (Cert CII) as Commercial Business Development Executive. Previously with AJ Gallagher, Limahl has been appointed to strengthen the commercial business development at Berkley Alexander to cater for growth in this space. In May, Berkley Alexander saw a 63% increase in commercial quotes and subsequently the business is predicted to be 153% up on quotes in June versus the previous year.

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba) has confirmed that Aon Risk Solutions Chief Executive Officer Julie Page has stepped down as its Deputy Chair. She will be replaced by Laura High, Director at Yutree Insurance, who has served on Biba’s board for more than two years. High commented: “It’s an honour to become Biba’s Deputy Chair. I am delighted to be continuing my work on the board and taking forward the important Broker issues on behalf of Biba’s members.”

Zurich Insurance Group has found the ‘perfect’ replacement for top industry name Amanda Blanc, who resigned from the company less than a year after coming onboard. Alison Martin, the Executive Committee Member who joined Zurich in October 2017 before assuming the Group Chief Risk Officer post in January 2018, has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer for EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and Bank Distribution effective immediately. Aside from her new remit, the Swiss Re alumnus will continue to oversee the group risk management function at Zurich until her successor is named.

The Bermuda operation of Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM) now has a new Chief Financial Officer as well as a Head of Bermuda Claims in the form of Steven Beadle and Chen Foley, respectively. Beadle came onboard Ironshore in 2008 before becoming corporate controller in 2017 after serving as Financial Controller (Bermuda) for three years, while Foley is a former Iron-Starr Claims Head whose new remit is to help bring together the ex-Ironshore business lines and Property claims teams.

Saffron Insurance has announced that David Beswick will be stepping down as Managing Director over the coming months. Directors Steve Seekings, Colin Fellowes and Keith McGregor will continue to lead the business together until a successor is found. The Broker stated that Beswick will be available to the business until January 2020 to ensure a smooth handover.

Specialist Travel Insurance Broker Just Travel Cover has welcomed two new members to its Board of Directors as part of long-term growth plans. Isabel Mellefont, current Head of Internal Controls and Compliance and Daley Gore, Head of Broker Development have both been appointed to the Board, joining Andrew Jackson, Chris Newton, Ken Lee and Robert Newton to add strength and value to the business as the company embark on ambitious future plans.



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

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