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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 14th February 2020

14 Feb 2020

Starr Insurance Companies has opened an office in Madrid, expanding its commercial lines presence across the Iberian Peninsula and boosting its European network. The company hosted a group of 100 Brokers and Risk Managers to mark the occasion.

“With AXA’s positive culture and driven mindset, I am confident we can tackle it.”. Those were the words of AXA UK & Ireland’s group HR Director Lucinda Charles-Jones when the Insurer released its latest gender pay gap report, which shows a narrowing of the difference between the wages and bonuses paid to men and women at AXA UK. According to the 2019 report, which is based on hourly rates on April 05 last year, the median pay gap stood at 20% – a better showing, albeit just by 0.2%, compared to the previous year – while the mean pay gap was 22%. As for the gaps in bonuses, the median was 25%; mean, 43%.

In further news... AXA UK is paving the way for a smoother Motor claims process by piloting Repair or Replace Intelligence (RoRI) at its office in Ipswich, with plans to integrate the machine-learning tool into the Guidewire software used by AXA Claims later this year. Designed to support Claims Handlers in making quicker and more accurate decisions, RoRI captures relevant data from phone conversations to assess how much it would cost to fix the vehicle and how much it would cost to write it off. Based on an ensemble of predictive models, the right decision can be arrived at as soon as the claim is notified.

Expansion, expansion, expansion is what it’s all about for UK-based digital mutual Insurer Laka, which has completed a US$4.7 million (around £3.6 million) funding round led by venture capital firms LocalGlobe and Creandum. “This investment will help us continue our growth and finance our expansion across Europe,” said Laka Chief Executive and Co-Founder Tobias Taupitz, whose business welcomed industry hotshot Amanda Blanc to its board of Directors in January.

It’s official: Liberty Insurance (JSC) is no longer an affiliate of Liberty UK and Europe Holdings Limited. The latter, a Liberty Mutual subsidiary, has completed the sale of its Russian unit to PJSC Sovcombank. That means Motor insurance specialist Liberty Insurance (JSC) is now owned by the lender, which is described as the number four car loan provider in Russia. The bank said the acquisition will make its proposition to car manufacturers and car owners “more rounded” while adding another source of stable fee and commission income to Sovcombank.

The business combination deal between International General Insurance Holdings (IGI) and Tiberius Acquisition Corporation is nearing the finish line. Last month the Bermuda Monetary Authority granted the green light; now it’s the turn of the Dubai Financial Services Authority to give its regulatory nod to allow the IGI-Tiberius transaction to move forward. Meanwhile the specialist commercial (re)insurer has also received share exchange agreements from its existing shareholders holding 100% of the issued and outstanding IGI common shares. IGI said this is in excess of the 90% threshold as set out in the business combination agreement with Tiberius, a special purpose acquisition firm.

CNA has joined the list of insurance companies reporting their financial results. For its fourth quarter of 2019, CNA reported a net income of US$273 million (around £211.3 million), bringing its full-year total to US$1 billion (around £774 million). Its Q4 combined ratio for Property and Casualty operations was 95.6% and 94.8% for the full-year, versus 95.4% for 2018. CNA also saw its net written premium for P&C grow by 5% in both Q4 and the full-year. Net catastrophe losses were US$51 million or 2.9 points of the loss ratio in the quarter, compared with US$146 million or 8.6 points of the loss ratio for Q4 2018

Remember when Lloyd’s of London requested clarity of coverage for Cyber exposures in all insurance policies to address the issue of silent Cyber? It was seemingly for the best interest of everyone involved… but now it is being suggested that the move has brought about unintended consequences. According to insurance governance expert Mactavish, it is witnessing a significant increase in UK commercial Property insurance policies removing all elements of cover that relate to technology. Data loss or IT meltdowns, for instance, will not be covered even if they come about due to, say, a fire.

It was last September when centuries-old Lloyd’s of London announced a series of signature actions aimed at driving cultural change in response to the shocking results of a market-wide culture survey. At the time, the insurance marketplace said an independent advisory group would be formed; now we’re about to meet the experts who will ensure that Lloyd’s is taking the right actions on this front. The line-up of the newly created culture advisory group has been unveiled and it includes Salesforce UK and Ireland Chief Executive Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the ex-CEO of Virgin Money who was appointed as the Women in Finance Champion of the British government in 2016.

Customer centricity has always been essential to the value proposition of a successful Insurer, however, in recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on the requirement of Insurers to put the customer at the heart of their business and for Brokers to assist them with achieving this ambition. For Paul Driver, who was recently appointed Head of Allied World’s bespoke division, his experience overseeing a range of classes of business including PI, E&O, auto & Property and A&H has given him a broad overview of the core requirements of customer centricity and tailored insurance solutions.

Canada-based telematics company, Intelligent Mechatronic Systems, which was acquired by the UK’s Trak Global Group (TGG) in December 2018 has announced that it will be rebranded with immediate effect as ‘IMS - Insurance & Mobility Solutions’ (IMS). Trak Global will consequently cease to operate as a trading brand in Europe, but Trak Global Group will remain as the parent company to both IMS and Carrot Insurance (Carrot).

At the Fitch Ratings Insurance Roadshow 2020, Ekaterina Ishchenko, Director at Fitch Ratings provided an overview of the fundamental sector outlook of both the UK non-life company market and the London market. While the outlook for the London market specifically is currently stable, as pricing conditions improve and underwriting results are likely to improve, she said, the outlook for the UK non-life company market is negative overall. This, Ishchenko said, is a reflection of Fitch’s expectation that underwriting profitability in this sector is likely to deteriorate further. The central reasons for this expectation, she outlined, boil down to three specific concerns: elevated claims inflation, a weak pricing environment and a high level of regulatory scrutiny.

Hiscox has partnered with LeakBot to become the first UK Insurer to offer the latter’s leak detection system to all its buildings insurance policyholders at no cost. “Much like our customers, our goal is to protect their homes and smart solutions like LeakBot will become an increasingly fundamental part of this,” said Hiscox UK propositions head Phil Thorn. “It’s often the smallest, hidden leaks that go undetected and ultimately cause the most damage, so spotting these early is essential.

Zurich UK has posted a 97% rise in operating profit in its general insurance business for the full year 2019. The provider’s operating profit came in at £271m in 2019, compared to £137m in the preceding year. In addition, its UK combined operating ratio improved to 91% from 94.9% in 2018.

Wholesale Broker Ceta Insurance is set to add more products to its Infinity platform this year, according to Chief Executive Officer John Bibby. The platform currently offers non-standard home insurance and Bibby said that the plan was to add product lines such as liability, tradesman, small SME, caravan insurance, boat insurance and gadgets.

aQmen Underwriting, part of Q Underwriting, has developed its specialist commercial combined policies for the recruitment industry. aQmen detailed that RecruiterCover is a specialist and tailored product for this complex sector, including cover for contractual liability for non-standard contracts, vicarious liability for temporary workers and the option to include driver’s negligence and fidelity bonding.

HDI Global Specialty SE has promoted Frida Kangasniemi to the position of Head of Airline. As Head of Airline, Kangasniemi and her team will underwrite the worldwide airline portfolio of HDI Global Specialty SE from their office in Stockholm, Sweden.

GABR and Davies Group alumnus Kim Alcock is now part of the McLarens family. Tapped to lead the global loss adjuster’s UK Casualty and third-party administration (TPA) operations, Alcock brings 25 years of cross-class experience to the role. She will be working alongside David Fillingham, who will continue to be the technical lead for UK Casualty.

It’s all change at the top for Gallagher in the UK with the brokerage giant today revealing a host of major changes. Jonathan Turner, who has held the role of CEO of Pen Underwriting for the last three years, is to become Chief Executive Officer of the firm’s UK-based specialty business. He takes the role as current CEO John Thompson steps into the position of Head of Business Development for the division.

Coverys Managing Agency Limited, the Lloyd’s managing agent of Syndicates 1975, 1991 and 3330, has announced the appointment of Valentina Minetti as Active Underwriter for Syndicate 1975. Minetti has more than two decades of underwriting experience in healthcare lines and actuarial management. She joins Syndicate 1975 from Beazley, where she was most recently responsible for underwriting the company’s US hospitals portfolio and coordinating and implementing the division’s medical professional Liability strategy in the field. Minetti has also held roles at RSA, GE Financial and Groupama.

Tokio Marine Kiln has appointed Charlotte Pritchard as an Underwriter within its special risks team. Pritchard will focus on all aspects of special risks, including political violence and accelerating the growth of TMK’s Terrorism book.

Jensten Group has announced the appointment of Jamie Lewis as Managing Director, bespoke wholesale, with specific responsibility for City Underwriters. He was previously Head of Commercial branches at LV and joined City Underwriters in February 2020.

Stillman Insurance Brokers has appointed Sarah Davies as Account Manager. Davies has previously held various positions at national and independent Brokers across the south of England.

SchemeServe has announced the departure of John Price as Chief Operating Officer (COO). According to the software provider, Price is leaving for personal reasons and to pursue new career challenges within the industry. SchemeServe is actively recruiting for a new COO as well as a number of additional roles. CEO Adam Bishop, together with support from the management team, will take up Price’s role in the interim. 

Jo Whyman has joined Ecclesiastical Insurance as Risk Management Director, taking over from Mark Matthews who retired last year. Whyman has more than 30 years’ experience in the financial services and risk management sectors and joins Ecclesiastical from Zurich, where he worked for more than 25 years in various roles.

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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